I talked a little bit about advocacy last week and since then I have been involved in a couple of advocacy trainings and even met with some of Dick Durbin's staffers yesterday in DC. So I am jazzed about advocacy. One thing I learned that I thought was really interesting and inspires me to write more letters is that it only takes ten letters from constituents (that is real letters, not the ones someone sends you to send), for a legislator to take notice. Ten letters only, I don't think there is any one of you who doesn't have ten supporters to write a letter for you and imagine if it only takes ten what 200 will do. While we were waiting for Dick Durbin's staffers yesterday I started talking to the folks who answer the phone there (at 5:00 it was ringing about once every minute or so) and it was all people who wanted to say what they thought about a specific issue. Every one of those comments gets recorded and entered into the Congressional Record. The staffers told me that they were 95% negative because people don't call unless they are angry. But hey, if you call, your opinion gets recorded and entered into the congressional record. Maybe some of you knew that, but I didn't. A former state legislator's staffer said that a big part of his job was to find good works, do them and get credit for them.
Here's the deal, I'm starting to get the message that in fact, our legislators actually care about our issues if we care, but we have to tell them we care. So, let them know about the issues that are important to you but also let them know about the excellent work you are doing with city, state or federal funding, international exchange, whatever it is. Apparently they love anecdotes, so if you have a great story...tell it to them so they can repeat it when they make your case, which is, after all, their job.