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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

Raise Your Voice with Activism: Lesson 2- Writing Campaigns & Action Alerts

This is part two in a 4-part series where I will share strategies that you can become more familiar with when it comes to activism: lobbying, writing campaigns and action alerts, using social media, and rallies/demonstrations. If you’ve read any of my other blog posts (and I thank you if you have been), you know that I’m all about sexual/reproductive wellness and rights, but I believe that these tips can be used for a variety of causes. Feel free to focus on the tips throughout the coming weeks that inspire you the most and what makes the most sense for your cause. 

Last week, we touched on tips for lobbying elected officials. I wanted to start off with that one first because it tends to be the most daunting of the various strategies we can use to getting voices heard. This week’s tips are just as important, but I think it’s easier to get into for many people, and you don’t have to be an activist to do it! This week, we’re discussing tips for writing letters to the editor and to policy makers, and participating in political action alerts. These strategies involved different tactics, but together they each bring about one key result: taking quick action!

Letters to the Editor- Writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine is a great way to get your message out to your community, as well as to local officials that support your cause (or don’t!). Here are some tips to consider:

  • Keep it short– Just like with lobbying, make sure you stay on topic. However, unlike with lobbying, be as concise as possible. Shorter letters increase your chances of actually being published.
  • Announce yourself- Let’s say there was an article discussing mothers with a history of sexual assault who experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that you felt did not speak to your experience and relied heavily on stigma. Inform the editor that you are a mother who has experience PTSD after childbirth. Example: “I am a sexual assault survivor and new mother who recently gave birth, and I experience PTSD as the result of traumatic child labor.”
  • State the facts– If you have statistics on mothers who experience PTSD as a result of child birth (especially if they are stats from your age or racial/ethnic group), be sure to add them. An example would be: “Of more than 900 U.S. mothers surveyed, 9% screened positive for meeting all of the formal criteria for PTSD set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-IV, a handbook of mental-health conditions.”

[article source]

  • Invite others– If it applies, encourage other people in your community to raise more awareness about what you’re discussing. Be sure to add your contact information so that others may be able to contact you to connect and build on creating awareness.
  • Finish strong- The two sentences that stand out the most are your opening sentence and your closing sentence. Take the time to connect your closing sentence to your opening sentence by stating again why it was important for you to write.
  • Do it now– Submit your letter to the editor at least 2 days after the original publication. At the beginning of your letter, you can state: “I am writing in response to your article about mothers and post-traumatic stress disorder (insert title of article, and date it was originally published)”.

Letters to Policy Makers- The tips above for writing to the editor also can apply to writing a letter to a policy maker. While writing to an editor can help to create awareness about a particular cause, writing to a policy maker is equally as important because the job of a policy maker is to listen to the voices of their constituents and to support laws that their constituency are for. Here are tips more tailored to writing to a policy maker:

  • Written letters and emails are equally important– While writing an email allows for a faster delivery rate, policy makers tend to read handwritten  letters as well. It’s also easy to get the contact information of your elected officials for both written and emailed letters (see the resources below).
  • You don’t have to be an expert– Share why the issue matters to you. Adding your own perspective creates a more personal touch and it shows your elected official that you really care about the issue, and it can be more persuasive.
  • Announce yourself, again– Let the policy maker know who you are, and be sure to let them know if your are a citizen in their congressional district.
  • Get the right information– Be sure to get the correct address of the policy maker you’re writing to. It’s also helpful to find out if the person should be addressed to as “The Honorable” or not. (People can sometimes get peeved when they’re not addressed in the correct way.Also, include your contact information in the letter because oftentimes letters can become separated from the original mailing envelope.
  • Proofread!– Self-explanatory…and have someone else read it to see if your thoughts flow nicely.
  • Follow-up– If you hear back from your elected official, send them a “thank you” note. if you don’t hear back from them in 1-2 weeks, contact their office to see if your letter was received.

There are more ways to getting the attention of community leaders and policy makers besides writing letters. Writing letters can be effective yet can become more time consuming. Another way to raise your voice includes responding to action alerts.

Responding to an Action Alert

An action alert is a message that typically an organization, think tank, or community organizing group sends out via email, a mailing list, or over the Internet asking for a specific action to be taken on a current political issue.You may not what to create your own action alert (or if you do, check out the resources below!), but would rather know how to respond to them.

Most online action alerts give you background information on why the action is needed. These days, many of the online action alerts are pre-made, meaning that there is a constructed email that already has the key messages included in the body of the message. Here’s an example from Advocates for Youth’s action alert on ending all abstinence-only programs:

Dear Senator/Representative:To date, the United States has wasted more than $1.5 billion on ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. It is time for Congress to stop funding these failed programs once and for all.

Young people need this important information to help them make responsible decisions about their sexual health. According to the CDC, 62% of young people have had sex by the time they graduate from  high school. For example, every year, U.S. teens acquire about nine million STIs and young people under the age of 30 make up one-third of new HIV infections in the U.S.  In addition, the U.S. has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the developed world.  We simply cannot afford to leave our young people in the dark about prevention.

As a constituent who is a strong advocate for young people’s sexual health and rights, I urge you to cosponsor the “Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act of 2011.

Action alerts are similar to letters to policy makers, and they come pre-made for you. For many action alerts, you’ll be asked to provide your name as well as possibly your address so that the letter can be electronically sent to your elected officials . Last week, I signed the action alert created by Advocates for Youth regarding having my state representatives co-sponsor the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act of 2011. I entered my name, address, and full 9 digit zip code (which is needed to precisely identify your congressional district) and received the names of my elected officials, including Representative Edolphus “Ed” Towns of the 10th congressional New York district. A few hours after completing the action alert, I received an email from Re. Towns:

Dear Ms. Clark,

Thank you for contacting me. The time you took to share your views is greatly appreciated, and I completely agree. To that end, I would like you to know that I have decided to co-sponsor H.R. 1085 Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Funding Act of 2011.

Pretty cool. And you can do it to. Many national and local organizations that have a political action component often have options to sign up for their action alerts. Try it out for yourself. Even one alert can tip the scales in your favor.

Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

Sample Letter to the Editor: This letter was written to discuss how one school district’s support of abstinence-only education is detrimental to young people.

Sample Letter to a Policy Maker: This letter was written in support of comprehensive sex education in schools.

Policy Makers: You can find your federal elected officials here by going to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov 

Project Vote Smart: Find the names and contact information of your elected state officials here.

Sample Letter to a Policy Maker: This letter was written in support of comprehensive sex education in schools.

Designing Effective Action Alerts for the Internet:These tips are by Phil Agre and they’re for creating your own action alerts (geared more towards people working in organizations).

Sample Action Alert: Tell Your Reps to Support the “Repeal Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act of 2011”.

Sample Action Alert: Tell Congress to Support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act.

 

Check back in next week! We’ll be discussing how the use of social media can help to spread your message.

Do you have any experience with using messaging? Want to add in your own tips? Share them with us in the comments below!

 

By | 2017-05-20T20:35:34+00:00 November 15th, 2011|Categories: Activism|Tags: , , |0 Comments