EP Voices Crisis Response + Event Management.
Trailhead: Where We Started
When disaster struck the quiet town of East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3, 2023, its tight-knit community faced an unprecedented challenge. A Norfolk Southern train derailment engulfed the town in chaos and media coverage, casting a shadow over East Palestine’s identity. For Threshold Residential Services, a non-profit supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and a vital community employer, this crisis provided an opportunity for Threshold to take a leadership role in the community as the region’s largest private employer.
Trek: Steps We’ve Taken
In response, Threshold partnered with TrailBlaze to launch the EP Voices Campaign, a unique initiative with several key objectives. First, it aimed to amplify the voices of Threshold’s often overlooked residents, providing them with a platform to express themselves genuinely and without exploitation. Second, the campaign sought to showcase East Palestine’s exceptional qualities and assets, pushing aside the shadows of adversity to reaffirm the town’s identity beyond the incident. The campaign embraced social media, video, and guerrilla marketing while delaying media engagement to avoid political conflicts.
The EP Voices brand, merging Threshold’s identity with local school colors, served as the campaign’s visual anchor. Central to the campaign were specially designed whiteboards featuring a speech bubble. Residents and businesses were invited to write their positive thoughts in the speech bubble and share on social media using #EPVoices. These whiteboards became a community symbol, encouraging participation and discussion. Local businesses played a pivotal role by not only engaging in the campaign but also acting as distribution points for posters, stickers, and window clings. The campaign extended its reach beyond social media, involving the broader community, including individuals with disabilities.
The campaign crescendoed in a community celebration and fundraising event, coordinated by Trailblaze, that featured videos showcasing Threshold’s residents and staff, highlighting their profound impact on the community.
Summit: Vision Realized
In a town of 4,700 residents, the campaign achieved remarkable success. The epvoices.org website received over 600 views. Sixty businesses participated in social media posts and distribution. Web traffic on Threshold’s site doubled and has sustained growth. Over 1,000 impressions were recorded on EP Voices posts in just one month. The EP Voices celebration drew 130 attendees and raised over $18,000. Four news outlets covered the event, and one featured a live broadcast.
However, beyond these metrics lies the immeasurable impact. The EP Voices campaign rekindled a sense of community pride and unity during a trying time. It gave residents a reason to celebrate their town’s strengths and assets, sparking conversations and positive vibes when they were needed most.
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TrailBlaze believes actions and opportunities that create equity are critical to developing a society without division. Vibrant communities develop more efficiently and sustainably when division is acknowledged and reduced. We offer this perspective in every project we do.