Have a Say

Did you know that City Council members and even your Congresspersons often hear from only a few residents on most issues?  Taking a few minutes to send an email on important policies can actually make a big impact!  And you don’t have to be an expert to weigh in.

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  • Support important policies to protect our future
  • Make your voice heard

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Overview

The Action
We will write a letter to a local, state or national decision maker on climate change or sustainability issues.
Is this action for me?
Yes! This action can be done by anyone.
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime by anyone.
How long will it take?
Quick to Medium - whatever time you need to draft your letter.
What is the cost?
No cost! It's free and you're free to make your voice heard.

Benefits

  • Support important policies to protect our future

  • Make your voice heard

Resources

Information

Register to vote in your district

The Basics

Some people think their voice doesn’t matter, but that’s actually not true - it makes a difference! City Council members and even your Congressperson (or their staff) take time to read every email or letter sent and consider your input in their decisions. Your Congressperson can likely tell you how many letters are received on an issue and what the main messages were. Now with email links for most elected officials it is so easy to make your voice heard!

Checklist

Find the contact info of the elected official you wish to write to
Draft your letter
Send you letter
Consider speaking at a City Council Meeting

Your Voice Matters

Your City Council, Congressperson, and your state representatives are all elected and their job is to represent your concerns and interests.  It is often the case, however, that they don’t hear from their constituents often and only receive a few letters on any particular issue.  So when they receive letters, they actually pay attention.  Although we are often frustrated by gridlocked decision making at the national level, at the local level it is quite a different story.  In fact some of the most forward moving policies on sustainability and climate change are happening at the local level.

The best part - you don’t have to be an expert to write a letter.  The most important thing is to express clearly what is important to you and what you would like your decision makers to prioritize in their policies.  Although writing about a specific policy that is pending is a great approach, it is not required.  You can write a general letter as well.  Either way, your input will be heard and considered.

You can include in the letter anything you feel is important.  For example you can talk about your family, maybe your children or grandchildren and the importance of protecting their future, or about the health benefits or many jobs that good climate policies will create.  Many elected officials actually would like to take more bold action on climate and sustainability policies, but are not sure they have the public support.  Help them out and let them know that you stand with them and appreciate their efforts.  Also - don’t forget to say thank you when they pass a good policy!

Write and send your letter

It’s easy to send a letter.  First step is to decide who you would like to write to and find out the best way to contact them.  Check out their website and look for the Contact information.  Most elected officials have an easy to find link for either submitting a letter online or emailing.  The website should also include an address if you want to mail a letter.  Handwritten letters still have a bit more weight, but not much as most people move to electronic communication.  Your email will be considered important.  

A few other things to consider.  If you are writing to City Council, you can often send the letter to all Councilmembers at the same time.  Make sure to sign the letter including your name and your address so they know that you live in their City or district.  Letters from constituents have more weight!  If you don’t want to include your full address, you can say, Resident of (your city name).  Don’t be surprised if they reply!  They will often reply and thank you for your input.

Finally, consider following some of the important climate and sustainability policies and providing input as they are being discussed and developed.  You can find information through the City website on upcoming and recent City Council meetings including notes and policies passed.  You can also watch the local newspaper or check with local community organizations who follow sustainability policies for updates.  Once you get connected in and find the information, it doesn’t take too much time to write an email once in awhile in support of an important policy.

Step it up and speak to City Council

Ready to do even more?  Consider providing comments at a City Council meeting!  Every City Council meeting has time for general public comments and public comments on each topic up for discussion.  Speaking at a Council Meeting has even more impact than sending a letter.  If you are not sure about the process, just arrive a bit early and ask one of the staff for instructions.  Generally you will be asked to fill out a card with your information and the issue you would like to speak on.  They will call your name and let you know when it is time for you to speak.  Many folks are nervous about public speaking, but remember, you are doing this for the benefit of our future.  You have something important to say!