"Culture Committee" revisited (summary)

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From:"Sarah A. Jones" <hawkmoon15@earthlink.net> (by way of histonet)
To:histonet <histonet@magicnet.net>
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Since so many of you requested it, I am sending the suggestions:

1)This could be fun for all.

I work for the Federal Government and we have to have some cultural events
for our EEO.  We have done a pot luck for Cinco de Mayo and other ethnic
holidays.  Of course at our lab food is always an attractant.  There are
also videos about different people, events, etc from a variety of cultures
- you can have popcorn and video one afternoon.

I hope this helps.  Good luck and have fun with it - it is really
interesting to learn about different cultures.

2) What you do will depend on the level of co-operation you can expect
from your people. If it is a large group it is almost impossible to
get more than 50% compliance in any event you may want to organise.
But here are some thing that we have tried. I am a food/ outdoor
person so dont be surprised if this is what I favour.

Why not try a weekend away? We have had, for the last 2 years an
informal pathology meeting where 2 sister departments from different
cities meet at a halfway point. This way you can organise some
academic meetings, games and/or other outdoor activities. It is
an ideal way to combine relaxation with getting to know one
Another outdoor option is the so called "team building"
exercise- where you all go out and do something adventurous such as
whitewater rafting. This requires at least someone with some
expertise in the activity, but there are companies that specialise in
organising such events.
More simplistically, "dinner or tea"  with a regional or ethnic theme
if you are a cosmopolitan group, will go a long way
to get people to socialise and commit themeselves to an activity

3) Try taking "recess" together and go outside for a walk or hike up the
stairs a
few times a week. A fun way to encourage certain behaviors is to hand out
candy bars or fast food gift certificates if people meet a goal (no overtime
that week, work out by a certain time all week,etc) What really can pull a
team together is to adopt a charity - maybe a family or a particular worthy
activity like Humane Society - something that everyone can work on just a
little but the results can be important. We recycle all our pop cans and use
the money actually for lab treats but we've talked about giving a certain
amount to a charity - can't agree on which one - so if you're going to do a
charity of any kind it's got to be one everyone voted on and agrees with

4) I am a supervisor of 10 histotechs and 2 clerks.  We try to have monthly
potlucks with a theme.  This year we had a "blue moon" brunch and a
Valentine's Day party.  At the end of the year, we have a guess the
number of blocks contest.  We also had a contest to name our new tissue
processor.  When someone has done an exceptionally fine job, I will
e-mail the rest of the group that a certain tech has been named "tech of
the week". We decorate for all the holidays.  Sometimes I will furnish
food for our monthly meetings.

I know it is difficult to keep people upbeat and it is especially
difficult if you have any "whiners".  A little break from the normal
routine does seem to help.

5) One thing that we've done here in my department, is we celebrate every
birthday.  We do this by having a cake every month.  Of course, celebrating
and acknowledging ones birthday is personal, so it is by volunteer basis
that they give the okay for administration to publish and print (on the
cake) whose birthday it is that month.  We take pictures, do the happy
birthday song and all.  The pictures are put in an album and left in the
staff lounge for all to share.
To help with the cost,  all the lab section supervisors contribute for the
So far we have had a good response and no one is left out (unless by

6) These are activities we have done during Lab Week celebrations.

Last year we had a chili cookoff and the winner got a $100 gift certificate
to a very nice restaurant. A vendor donated the prize and there were enough
entries to feed the lab for lunch. I don't know if this would work for you
because when I hear "regional", I am wondering if everyone is in the same

A very popular one, as you remember, was matching baby pictures with an
employee. We also did this with parents and this year we are doing it with
feet. I will be taking a picture of one foot from all who wish to
participate. Many people think this will be fun but said they will get a
pedicure first! The picture goes on a board and each entrant tries to match
the foot to the right person.

Another popular one: We bought about 80 Lab Week refrigerator magnets and
hid them in all areas of the lab. You can imagine all the places we came up
to hide them with the Haller furniture being metal! The magnets were turned
in for gifts, with some magnets having a special mark which meant that
person got a special gift.

This year we are giving everyone a gift - a pack of post-it notes that say
on the bottom....from a valued member of the EMC Laboratory Services Team.

7) One of the contests you might consider is to place seveal
different sized tissue sections on a water bath. and set point values on
each section the person that can put the most sections neatly on a slide
wins. I have found there are not to many people that have the hand eye
dextarity to perform this simple task unless you work with it evey day. The
tiny 7mm sections should have the highest value. I think this is the size of
our small cassettes. Make sure the water bath is filled to the max with
sectons leaving very little room to manuver. It may not be a great idea for
a contest but it is cheap.

8) When I was at another institution, I was on the Lab Activities Committee,
anyway, they called me "cruise director" and we had potluck dinners 4-5
times a year, sometimes with an ethnic theme (everyone brings some dish that
is from whatever country or part of the US they are from) sometimes it was a
"spring" theme (usually in the spring) with things you think of more in warm
weather....salads, cold dishes, etc., sometimes it was a chili "cookoff" or
whatever kind of competetion (judges have to be diplomats in that case) and
we usually took up money from the pathologists (who didn't have to cook
unless they wanted to) and bought a cooked turkey or ham or whatever......
one time I bought shrimp with the money and cooked scampi for everyone....
food is always good!!  Seasonal door decorating contests are always good....
organize an after work softball game... or team to play in a league in your
area..... those were always good... a Friday after work "Happy Hour" with or
without alcohol....at some local restaurant is good for those who are
interested.... a t-shirt decorating contest limited to reagents and dyes
found in the department is good.... an ID the baby photo contest with
inexpensive prizes is good...... work together to do a departmental
cookbook..... if you're big enough, have it professionally printed,
otherwise do it on the computer and staple it together....when it gets
nicer, a departmental picnic would be good with activities.... even a bring
the kids affair....
Good Luck!!

And last, and certainly least....

9) a gallon of Jack Daniels only costs $30.00

For all of those of you who sent these suggestions, I am sincerely grateful!

Sarah A. Jones

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