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Advocating for local people

Local people can be effective advocates for local change by reaching out to leaders, community residents and linking to state policy makers.  It takes MORE than a village in this case...


An object lesson for local officials. 

Producers are not wed to your locality as much as to the region...even where the producer has "put down roots" they can and do make moves that maximize their profits.  Advocates, when you are talking to local officials, remind them of this story with the admonition...work with other communities to craft comprehensive long term solutions to local impacts instead of short term "road maintenance agreements" that take time and money to monitor for compliance.  Halliburton (and the others) are multinational corporations, Cadiz or Carrollton will not hold them accountable.  In this case, it takes more than a village.... (end of rant)

Sharing the Wealth
While a "fracking tax" is still popular with the general public and not among the elected reps in Columbus, advocates can take some steps to ask gas/oil producers what they are willing to leave behind in terms of family and community stabilization when they take resources away from the community Invest in private philanthropies that support infrastructure projects.  At the same time, advocates can be talking to elected officials find ways to build (not just maintain) infrastructure in collaboration with gas/oil companies (The companies need infrastructure too...)

Why infrastructure?  Housing, roads, water/sewer projects and telecommunications are the built environment that will sustain communities over the long run. 

The problem with infrastructure development has been that potential investors have said "maybe it's just a boom...and it will all go away leaving vacant homes, unsustainable public facilities and dark fiber."  The facts on the ground argue against that canard.  Secondary development (crackers, pipelines, private water projects) are booming. When the lawyers move to town, you know the boom is for real.

We need help from outside to change things here.”
Here's a simple fact: No one from outside can change your local situation. Outsiders can only support the change that you seek. There is no Lone Ranger who will swoop into your community to make things right. In the words of a well worn cliche, “we are the leaders we've been waiting for”. But it is hard to start from scratch. Here's some ideas:

FIND and support others in your community who have the same issue or concern. Maybe this means working across race, class and income lines to find a common cause.

ARTICULATE the issue others can join. Too often folks with a cause just want to tell their story, like an episode on Oprah. What you need to do is help others find their story in your experiences. Members are “made” not born...so remember the steps to engagement:

DEMAND SOLUTIONS. Just saying that there is a problem isn't enough. Tell your elected officials, community “leaders” and service organizations: “This is what we need!” Once you are making demands, then others (some outsiders, some insiders) can support you. Change begins at HOME.

Get more info here:  Thanks to tenants Joyce and Mark and others for asking the question...

 Strategies to address local impacts
  • Build more affordable housing
  • Build a social safety net for the "left behind"
  • Trap the value of extraction:  frack tax, user fees, tax increments and charitable donations
  • Community trust funds that captures short term profits for long term development:  diversified economic development, education, physical infrastructure, social infrastructure.  Funds may be public (local rainy day or capital development funds) or private (charitable trusts)
Tactics to induce change
1.  Build a local coalition.  I don't know how many times I've heard from a gas county resident who says:  I've written to (fillin the bland) the governor, the mayor, the county commissioners, my TV station, my congressman..."  The fact is no one will change it for you.  You will need some support from a network of activists.
2.  Argue the facts, not the feelings.  Your personal experiences give you credibility and authenticity...but they don't change other people's minds.  GET THE FACTS.  How big is the impact on THE COMMUNITY (not just you)?
3. Tell your stories in support of the facts.  Personal stories are great when they point to an underlying problem.  Maybe you know the "trick" of new journalism:  gather and analyze the facts, then find a story that illustrates the larger problem. 
4.  Unfreeze the status quo.  You would think that the influx of dollars, outside workers and pollution would be enough to unsettle the ways that communities have always done business.  WRONG.  In the fact of a few citizens becoming overnight millionaires, communities host "JR Parties" and sell bigger, louder, more garish pick up trucks.  Unfreezing means changing business as usual so that the benefits of extraction are shared by all.
5.  Move the discussion from the local and immediate to the general and long term.  Offer solutions that change the way business is done. 
6.  Refreeze the new status quo.  Once you have enacted change, be sure to create mechanisms to protect the changes you fought for.  Enacting laws and building institutions are ways to assure that your victories are preserved.

Notes & Links

advocacy tradecraft

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