What if just by speaking up you could change something to benefit mankind? For this article, I have a cleaner and greener Eastern Madera County in mind.
Speaking up or advocating for a cause can be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding. KOMB has advocated for a workable and enforceable covered load ordinance; for a local sharps disposal facility (a safe place to dispose hypodermic needles); and for more recycling opportunities in Eastern Madera County. We have not been the sole advocate or change agent for these benefits, but we have lent a strong, consistent voice for their implementation. We continue to advocate for matters that affect our local environment.
For our next advocacy project we’re looking to promote the establishment of a permanent hazmat collection site in EMC. A once-a-year collection of materials such as paint, batteries, electronics, fluorescent bulbs, etc. for roughly 30,000 people does not seem to adequately address our need to safely and responsibly dispose of these items. The hazmat collection at Yosemite High School in June had 300 participants disposing of 1760 gallons of diesel/water waste; 855 pounds of various types of fluorescent bulbs; and 1400 pounds of alkaline, nicad, and lithium ion batteries, among many more gallons and barrels of waste products.
So what does it take to advocate for or against something? Patience, persistence and perseverance are essential ingredients in any advocacy campaign. To increase the odds of success, do the research: What are the needs? How can they best be met? Have you educated yourself on the issue or are you starting with erroneous or inaccurate information? What might be some options for meeting those needs besides what you’re proposing? What will be required? Who will be responsible for implementation? What are the obstacles?When presenting your case or cause, it’s not enough to say it’s beneficial. It’s not enough to say something is ridiculous. Substantiate how it’s beneficial; substantiate how something lacks planning, common sense, or fiscal or environmental responsibility. Support your case with facts, figures, and valid references.
Unfortunately, not all well-intentioned or well-planned advocacy campaigns succeed. Witness what is happening, so far anyway, in regards to the Austin Quarry. Even with valid substantiation, sometimes factors beyond our control influence decision makers.
What are some legal, reasonable, and respectful advocacy actions? Letter writing/letter signing; petitions; peaceful marches; attending and speaking up at meetings of decision-makers; writing letters to editors; and using social media to promote causes. Follow up is also important.
Sometimes we wonder, “Will our modest efforts make a difference?” In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
If you’re interested in KOMB’s advocacy efforts, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or attend our next meeting, Thursday, Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Round Table Pizza in Oakhurst, near Von’s.