To Maintain a Good Relationship With Your Community, Bring People in And Show Them What You Do.
By Thomas J. Roach
Quarries that are in or near city limits need to maintain good relationships within their communities. It may seem like a huge inconvenience, but the best way to do this is for management to bring people onto the property and show them what you do.
Not everyone wants a tour of a quarry, but one reliable source of interest is schools. For grade school classes, the quarry represents dinosaur-size machines, and for high school and college classes, it is an opportunity for experiential learning in geology and biology.
The quarry tour could start with a brief introductory presentation in a meeting room. A speaker could talk about safety and the layout of the site and provide some general information about the aggregate industry.
If the quarry has some historical connection to the community, that would be another excellent point to discuss. I grew up in Joliet, and we all knew that many of the older buildings from Joliet to downtown Chicago were constructed with the yellowish dolomite know as Joliet Limestone.
After taking questions, it is time to pass out the hardhats and go for a walk. Everyone should see the amazing heavy equipment employed by the industry. And, of course, they should also be afforded an opportunity to peer into geological history by looking up and down the length of the quarry walls.
Almost everyone has a couple of interesting rocks they are saving. A stop at a safe location where students can look for keepsake rocks or fossils could be the highlight of the quarry tour.
At the end of the tour, it would be useful to get everyone back into the meeting room and answer more questions. After the tour, the audience will be much more interested in the quarry, and this is an opportunity to contextualize the quarry operation and the aggregate industry in a positive light.
Remember that each student is a future tax-paying, voting member of the community. This is your best opportunity to counter the sentiment that the industry is only exploiting resources and is putting the wellbeing of the community at risk.
We need to tell our story and to remind the public that the aggregate industry is an essential part of the community and of civilization. In fact, we can claim that we literally provided the building blocks of history.
A second level of positive publicity is available if you invite a newspaper photographer or a television news camera crew to cover the event. By themselves, photographers and camera crews can only capture images of machinery and chiseled landscapes, but give them a crowd of school children to follow around, and you have created an evolving human-interest story.
Attention from the news media also makes the event more significant for the participants. The next day, the students will be clipping news stories and saving and reposting video clips of the tour that they downloaded online.
The aggregate industry has to define itself. If we don’t tell people who we are and what we do, then everything the public sees and hears about us will come from trial lawyers and NIMBY groups.
Spring is coming, and teachers and students will welcome opportunities to go outside and explore. All it takes to set up a tour is a phone call to a school and an itinerary. Once plans have been confirmed, then call the local news outlets and see if anyone is interested in covering your event. You don’t have to build anything, and you don’t need a PowerPoint presentation.
Excitement, curiosity and goodwill are always part of a quarry. Quarry Day just gives you a chance to share them with the community.