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Issue #11: Planning a Town Meeting


1. Reach Out to Your Community

2. Get Together to Discuss the Issues

3. Many Different Shapes and Sizes

4. Ways to Get the Word Out

5. Use the Media in Your Community

6. A Model Steering Committee


On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying was produced to highlight the issues and improve end-of-life care in this country. The companion outreach effort will continue long beyond the series premiere on September 10 and is geared toward improving how people die in America. To effectively change public opinion and have an effect on how our healthcare system treats those at the end of their lives, we must mobilize people at the grassroots level to work for change. Many tools have been discussed within our newsletters to help steering committees reach out to their communities Š from ways to find partners for the outreach effort, to how to assess each communityÕs needs in end-of-life care. Now, we want to encourage you to take your outreach to the next level and invite your whole community to work towards improving end-of-life care.


Organize a town meeting to discuss end-of-life care in general, as well as specific services that are offered, or that people feel should be offered, within your community. You could show clips from On Our Own Terms to help get the discussion started. Use the results of your community assessment to raise issues of deficiencies in care offered to the dying or highlight a service that is being offered that many people might not know about. Invite experts in to sit on a panel. Open up the discussion and invite people to ask questions Š hopefully the dialogue will encourage action within your community.

Hold the town meeting in a town hall, library or school auditorium. Schedule it for the evening so that more people will be able to attend following work. Look to the Leadership Guide for suggestions on how to organize the meeting at: onourownterms/out/leader_guide/ taking4_3.html


Your town meeting can be set up in many different ways. Perhaps you will want to have a series of smaller, more focused town meetings; for example, inviting individuals focused on issues involving the healthcare system to meet in one place and those focused on senior citizen issues meeting in another. You might want to have panelists representing many facets of this debate to answer questions from interested parties. Make sure that you take into consideration everyone who has a stake in this issue Š senior citizens, healthcare professionals, clergy to name just a few, and try and create a place for them in the discussion. For a more complete list of interested parties, refer to the Leadership Guide at: onourownterms/out/leader_guide/ taking4_3.html

DonÕt forget to include your local and national elected officials so that they can hear the concerns of the community with regard to end-of-life care. After all, many elected officials view town meetings as "listening sessions" where they can plug into the feelings and concerns of the people they serve. An elected official might even want to host the town meeting. Read about one such effort online at: Forum49/HTML/000011.html


As you plan community activities, be sure to put in place a local publicity plan. In addition to increasing participation, publicity is valuable to help put a spotlight on end-of-life issues in your community. The Publicity Tools section on our web page includes project press paper for press releases, a publicity flier and project brochure that can be customized with local information, a project logo, photos, a brief description of the national project to incorporate in local releases, and other useful materials. By using these tools, you can help your local media to understand your coalitionÕs association with the national On Our Own Terms campaign, and your activities will assume even greater importance to the press. Check out these publicity materials at: onourownterms/publicity.html

One of the best ways to let people know about the town meeting is to post the details on the discussion boards. This way, anyone stopping by to check out the postings will see your invitation. It also allows us to publicize your efforts in our national campaign. Make good use of this free advertising at: onourownterms/forums.html

Stop by frequently to check out the latest postings.


Remember to utilize your local media, not only for a town meeting but for any events your steering committee organizes as part of your outreach effort. A major press effort for the series and the national project is underway, led by Kelly & Salerno Communications. They are placing stories with national publications and targeting television, health, lifestyle, religion and other reporters for coverage in newspapers around the country. The goal is to concentrate publicity on end-of-life and the airing of On Our Own Terms in September to create maximum awareness and interest at the time of the series premiere. Your efforts can contribute to this momentum as well as bring attention to your coalitionÕs activities. Please coordinate your plans with the national campaign, by calling Rose Lynn Marra at 212-632-0207.


Please remember to assign a member of your steering committee to post your activities on the discussion boards! We would love to highlight your steering committee in an upcoming issue.

This issueÕs model steering committee hails from Montana, and in this case, this is really more of a "model state effort." As you will see when reading through this posting, this group did not immediately start off as a cohesive, focused unit. Surely, many of you are experiencing the sort of "growing pains" that Montana experienced, perhaps you can learn from what they went through and apply it to your own situation. Read about their experience online at: Forum28/HTML/000002.html