For those of you are trying to focus on a way to make a difference, I offer Part II on Training To Make A Difference. I’m grateful to those of you who weighed in on my last blog and offered feedback about how difficult it is to focus on one issue. Scrambling events, scrambled minds seems to be the order of the day. All the more reason to call upon what is common knowledge about mindfulness— to pause, take a deep breath, and seek resonance to what calls you.
SOLIDARITY is the byword: Pick an issue you’ve never thought about, and show up
Initially, I scratched my head at this suggestion and then, thinking about the big picture, the element of weighing in, the surprise of commonality made sense.
- It’s as simple as showing up. Be a body among others.
- Especially at local levels, public forums: 10 more people can swing how a room feels
- You don’t have to agree on every single thing an organization does to recognize and support the common fight
- Braver than officials are or can be
How many times since Trump took office have I been amazed, surprised, pleased, grateful for the throngs of citizens who show up at public forums, at the doorsteps of their representatives, in marches, with placards, unafraid to shout out what is essential for their well being.
Practical details of Contacting Your Representatives
Request a specific action
- Methods in decreasing order of impact. Write OpEd Letter to the Editor, plan 1:1 meetings, attend legislative office hours, write letters, make calls, participate on social media, send e-mails. DON’T FAX
Know critical information about what you are requesting, make it personal
- bill number, current sponsorship http://magov/Bills/Search
- re: bill he/she have sponsored—ask how you can promote
- keep staffers’ email addresses
- Remember: officials and staff are real people
- suggestion: “I think you are the kind of person who can do the right thing.”
Make It Local
- If you’re federal representative isn’t listening, go local
Stay informed & spread the word (examples are from MA. check your locale)
- MASSerlist: http://www.massterlist.com/
- Politco Playbook MASS: http://www.politco.com/tipssheets/massachusetts-playbook
- com http://takeactionma.com/
- ProgressiveMA (keeps a legislative agenda/scorecard) http://www.progressivemass.com/
- If you’re going to an event, get quotes, pics , pr…be part of the positive echo chamber)
Following the training, there was a lengthy Q&A session. The following points are salient and useful in understanding the impact of participation.
- Re: increasing turnout: detach from an individual, attach to ideas
- What doesn’t work: Data suggests that “the sky will fall if X wins/loses” is a failed model
- What works—engage on issues: go door to door to engage on a specific issue that regularly affects your life (social security, education, healthcare)
- one study on this approach: 18% increase in turnout
- In relating to those with different views—1. if you start with your values, you open a discussion about how to fix a problem. 2. if you start with your policy position, most people will assume you are closed to their point of view.
I close with gratitude for the opportunity to share this valuable advocacy training experience with my readers. In highlighting the information I felt most compelling, I have a far greater sense of how each and every one of us, in stepping up in small and big ways on issues that relate to our values, can make a difference. As always, I am grateful for the give and take of comments and look forward to your sharing.