Raise your voice, not the sea level, not the temperature, and not your carbon footprint. Start a conversation about your favorite sustainability issue with someone – get engaged!
I was in Middle School when I heard Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech live over our school room speakers. Forty years later we elected our first African-American President, Barack Obama. Mr. King spoke up and spoke out eloquently and in a non-violent way. His words changed my life.
In celebration of Martin Luther King Day I thought it fitting for our third week to go on an engagement adventure. Inspired by Dr. King’s approach, we will choose an environmental, social, cultural or economic issue close to our hearts and learn how to take that issue to our politicians, the businesses we frequent or community leaders. Why? Because one person can make a difference.
“Finding your voice” Week. Come up with ONE sustainable issue you are passionate about and express your voice to one or more of the following (helpful links below):
• Write your Congressman an email or a real letter (link below). At least once in your lifetime you should visit your Congressman either in Washington DC or at his home office. I have never forgotten the experience of meeting Senator Hubert Humphrey and his personal tour of the Congressional Chambers where he described the joys and weighty responsibilities of his Office representing the Constitution .
• Attend a town meeting or council meeting and speak up.
• Speak to the owners of your local coffee shop or the businesses you frequent.
• Find your local community cable studio and start a sustainable show featuring local residents, business owners who initiate and maintain sustainable practices.
• Take your sustainable concern to your local newspaper/magazine/TV station. Write a letter to them (see links below) and follow-up in person.
• Attend this year’s National Conference and Global Forum: Energy and Climate Change, January 27-29, 2015 – Hear inspiring speakers from science, industry, academics, the EPA, Forest Service, NOAA, and DOE discuss and offer solutions towards are more sustainable future.
Once you have found an environmental, economic, social or cultural issue you would like to bring to local, regional or national attention, do your research. Some of the links below have valuable suggestions that can be helpful to complete a substantive letter to your boss, local media station or local politician!
And don’t be shy, while in your local coffee shop, take your own “to go” cup and ask them to refill it. Let them know its your way of keeping those cups out of a landfill. As you order that sandwich from your local deli, ask them if they practice the 6 R’s; for example, do they compost and recycle? Let them know your wallet is behind sustainable businesses. If you are in a store, ask them what sustainable best practices they are proud of (sustainable lighting, fair wages, sustainable and & smart designed products, sustainable packaging, etc.)
And if you are business owners, you could encourage more sustainable practices by giving a discount to those who bring their own coffee mugs, bags, etc. Purchase your own mugs and bags to resell to your customers, encouraging them to develop more sustainable practices. Start an employee rewards program for winners of quarterly 6 R competitions, green auto purchases, etc. Become recognized as a local sustainability leader.
In other words, be aware of your impact and your surroundings, be present. By being compassionate, kind and mindful of our collective impact we can make suggestions for a more sustainable world and they will be heard. So make your little corner of the world better during this “Find your Voice” week. Get engaged.
The Deep Dive:
How to contact Congress, citizen’s directory here.
Contact your Governor via email here.
Citizen’s guide to town meetings here.
Great ideas on how to influence Congress as a citizen here.
Visit your regional EPA office here.