What You Can Do in Your Community
In any initiative to bring about meaningful change in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, education will be the key to success. Once people have the facts they need, we believe, they will demand change.
Probably the single most important step any of us can take is simply to talk. Talk to your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, your relatives. Show them the facts and statistics provided elsewhere in this toolkit. Share your own personal observations and experiences. You'll find almost everyone wants to see greater environmental protections and recognizes at least some of the disadvantages and dangers of our current energy system.
Then, use the following ideas to spread the word. It is easier than you think. Eventually, you may be planning media events and talking one-on-one with presidential candidates. Feel free to tailor any of these ideas as you see fit, to get the results you are looking for.
Letters to the Editor
Do you read the letters page in your local paper? So do most of your neighbors. A simple letter to the editor can be a useful tool for generating interest in energy and environmental reform in your community.
Editors are most likely to print letters that are topical in some way and refer to a recent published story. Keep an eye out for articles related to energy policy or the environment you can use as a "hook" for a letter of your own. In your letter, be sure to spell our what other individuals and organizations are doing in your area, and let people know how to get involved.
If writing to more than one newspaper (and we encourage you to do so!), each letter must be unique. Most papers will not knowingly publish letters that have been printed elsewhere.
Write an Op-Ed Piece
The Opinion/Editorial (Op-Ed) pages of newspapers include articles written by experts in certain fields. These articles usually offer a viewpoint on current events and hot topics. An Op-Ed should be sent to the editors of your local newspapers. You can locate the editor's name at the top of the Op-Ed page in each newspaper. Remember to ask for a word count limitations.
Submit Prewritten Articles to Community Newspapers
Community papers often accept prewritten articles and photographs. Call the editors or reporters at community papers at least six weeks before you would like your article to appear.
Team Up with Other Advocacy Groups
Most communities have grass-roots organizations dedicated to improving our energy choices, and there are many well-known regional and national organizations like the Sierra Club that advocate for the environment. Add your voice to theirs by attending their meetings and getting to know their members. If your community does not have such a group, start one!
Form a Coalition of Concerned Citizens
A coalition of people in your community dedicated to these issues might include environmental advocates, municipal and regional planners, teachers, parents, students, and others.
To get a coalition off the ground, contact anyone you thing might be interested in such a group, and set up a committee to organize a first meeting. Contact hospitals, churches, schools, or other public or semi-public organizations in search of a venue. Write and submit a press release (see below) to spark interest among the general public. Brainstorm strategies to bring about real change and make your voices more widely heard.
Stage a Town Meeting about Environmental Reform
Use the meeting to communicate your coalition's concerns to the wider community and to your local government officials. Take the opportunity to discuss possible solutions with them.
Write to Your Elected Officials and Candidates
Educate them about the issues and make your viewpoint know. Let them know what kinds of programs you support, and what kinds of changes you feel are needed.
Involve Local Business
Ask local businesses to support your organization by making a donation or putting up your posters and brochures.
Host an Awards Breakfast or Lunch
Recognize individuals who are doing great things for the environment in your community. Invite as many members of the community as you can.
Submit a Press Release to Local Newspapers or TV/Radio Station
Press releases are designed to gain publicity. They lay out the "who, what, where, when, why and how" of a story. Use them to inform the public about environmental issues and what is being done about them. You can send press releases to TV and radio stations as well as local newspapers. Before submitting your materials to any media outlet, inform yourself of their format and tailor your press release to fit them. A newsworthy event could be a local vigil or demonstration. Create an event designed to educate and dramatize the issues.
Develop Public Service Announcements
ublic Service Announcements (PSA's) are free advertising for non-profit organizations. Local radio and television stations donate a percentage of their airtime to worthy campaigns, but they have a limited amount of time and many non-profits are trying to secure a spot. Many media organizations require that a PSA request be submitted at lease six weeks prior to when you would like it to be aired or printed.
Utilize Local Libraries to Spread the Word
Ask your local library to let you display literature on energy and the environment. Many libraries have display cases with rotating exhibits that can be very effective for communicating your message. Be sure to ask if you can distribute fact sheets to library patrons.
Develop and Energy and Environment Exhibit at a Local Shopping Mall
It can be a similar display as one used in a library, with fact sheets to pass out to shoppers, and perhaps the date of a town meeting or energy coalition meeting. Informing as many people of the issues as possible is extremely important.
Invite Candidates to Your Community to Discuss Environmental Issues
Organize a meeting where candidates can speak directly to the voters where you live. Prepare a list of key questions to ask each candidate.
Reprinted courtesy ResultsforAmerica.org
Back to top