When advocating for causes that you’re passionate about, your voice is, without a doubt, your most powerful tool. Advocates use their voices to educate people about animal abuse, pet homelessness, endangered and threatened wildlife, and the human-caused destruction of our environment. Sometimes it’s by signing an online petition or sharing a news story on social media, hoping to educate others about important causes. Maybe you’re active in community education efforts or volunteering for a local animal welfare or environmental organization.
All forms of advocacy are important, but when we want to see changes in how animals and the environment are protected, it involves updating outdated laws and implementing legislation that helps make change possible. Legislative advocacy is key to these efforts, whether it’s a local ordinance banning the retail sale of commercially-bred animals, a state law banning people from keeping exotic pets or working to protect wildlife and natural resources. It’s a part of advocacy that needs voices now more than ever, and there are various ways you can get involved.
Use Your Words to Help Spread Awareness and Initiate Change
If you’re aware of an issue in your community, writing a letter to the editor for your local newspaper can help raise awareness and inspire others to take action. Be concise, and use examples or personal stories to help back your argument. Help people understand why the cause is important, and how it directly impacts your community. If your letter doesn’t get published, try submitting it to another publication. Not sure what to say? The Animal Legal Defense Fund and World Wildlife Fund have helpful advice that can be applied to letters written for any cause.
In addition to educating members of your community, it’s important to relay your concerns to the people responsible for making decisions. A written letter or quick email helps let city council members, legislators, and representatives know that their constituents are concerned about a particular issue, and it can help impact whether a piece of legislation gets passed. Organizations often send out legislative action alerts with pre-generated messages you can send, but always customize the message to help it stand out. Help your efforts go the extra mile by following up with a phone call to key decision makers asking them to support (or oppose) the legislation, and why.
Make Your Voice Heard by Attending Local Meetings
Speaking at a public forum such as a city council meeting or state committee hearing might be intimidating, but it’s important for lawmakers to hear from their constituents. Prepare what you want to say beforehand and bring a friend along for moral support. Even better, ask a few friends to speak up as well! Even if there isn’t a topic of interest being discussed, it’s still a good idea to attend a few meetings so you can get an idea of how they operate and what to expect.
There are also organizations that plan “lobby days” where you and fellow advocates can meet one-on-one with state officials to discuss proposed legislation and issues in your community. It’s a great way to meet new people while advocating for the causes that are important to you, and being able to team up with other people can make the experience less intimidating.
Volunteer For an Organization Focused on Legislative Initiatives
Start your advocacy journey by finding a local or national organization focused on legislative efforts in your community. Advocates are needed for all causes, and legislative organizations are always in need of volunteers. Duties might include research, writing, making calls, attending meetings, speaking at events, or hosting educational sessions at community events. A lot of the work to protect animals and the environment happens at the legislative level, and by volunteering your time to these causes you can help make an impact that will last for years to come.
Since most causes impact more than our individual communities, you can also get involved with organizations that do work on a national level. Whichever you choose, you’ll be making an impact and helping to make our world a better place.
Change Takes Time, But It’s Always Worth the Wait
An important thing to keep in mind is that legislative initiatives take time. Working to change laws can be a process filled with a lot of ups and downs, but each tiny success slowly builds a path toward change. Don’t be afraid to stand up for issues that you’re passionate about or think that one person can’t make a difference. Your voice has more power than you think, and when like-minded people come together for a common cause, amazing things can happen.
Learn more about One Green Planet’s work to speak up for important causes by visiting our petitions section and subscribing to our newsletter.
Lead image source: Wikimedia