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It’s Time to Make Our Voices Heard About Climate Justice

One of the seven goals of Laudato Si’ is community resilience and empowerment. The Laudato Si’ Action Platform envisions “a synodal journey of community engagement and participatory action at various levels.

Actions could include promoting advocacy and developing people’s campaigns, encouraging rootedness and a sense of belonging in local communities and neighborhood ecosystems.”

As we move into an election year, the Climate Change Task Force wants to emphasize this goal in particular ways. First of all, we are challenging our constituents and those who know us to actively participate in pre-election work. What better time to speak out about what environmental legislation is needed! 

Now is the Time to Speak Up

We know that those running for office are influenced by the voice of the people. So NOW is the time to speak up at the local, regional, and national levels.

How are our legislators influenced? According to research by NETWORK, a national Catholic political advocacy organization, the key is determining what people and actions are most likely to influence lawmakers the most. 

There are several print tactics that activists might consider, such as Letters to the Editor, Op-Eds, sign-on letters, email and social media campaigns.

If possible, in person communication might also be considered: questions at town hall meetings, phone calls, or visits to the legislators’ offices in-district or at the Capitol.

Effective Communication

So, you might ask, which of these forms of communication are most effective? NETWORK has reported the findings of a 2015 survey by Congressional Management Foundation of Congressional staff, which included chiefs of staff, communication directors, legislative directors, and legislative assistants. 

The survey asked: “If your Member/Senator has not already arrived at a firm decision on an issue, how much influence might the following advocacy strategies directed to the Washington office have on his/her decision?” 

Not surprisingly, 94 percent said in-person visits from constituents or the constituents’ representatives had “a lot” or “some” positive influence on the legislator’s decision. Close behind were individualized email messages (92 percent). Please notice, that “form” email massages have significant less impact. 

Only 56 percent of Congressional staff said that the “form” emails that are not individualized made “a lot” or “some” difference! (So, when you get those emails asking you to sign on, if there is a place to individualize your message, do so, as it will have more impact!).

Write a Letter to the Editor

Similarly, individualized letters mailed through the Post Office also had a strong impact. Eighty-eight percent said such letters had “a lot” or “some” impact. Local editorials/op-eds referencing given pending issues and comments during town hall meetings were also strong influencers (87 percent). 

Phone calls to legislators and letters to the editor (LTE) made “a lot” or “some” difference to 84 percent of Congress people. Note that LTE’s made “a lot” of difference (more than town halls or phone calls) to legislators. A visit from a lobbyist influenced 83 percent of legislators, though fewer said it made “a lot” of difference in their decision.

So, what does this have to do with climate justice?  A LOT!  NOW is the time to look at various candidates’ views on climate issues. This information can be obtained from the League of Conservation Voters.

This website tracks the voting records of all Senators and of the House of Representatives who voted for policies and legislation that have a significant impact on the environment and climate change.

Use Your Voice

Then, having accessed this information, do your part to influence your legislators through in-person visits from you or those who represent you. Send individualized email messages to your Congress people or write personalized, individualized letters. 

Use your voice in your local newspaper by persuading the editor to publish an Op-Ed or write a letter to the editor. Or show up at town halls and speak out or make a call to your legislators.

What might one voice do to change opinions? A lot … because all those “one voices” add up and can significantly influence the future direction of our country! Now is the time! Speak out!

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Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp

Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp

Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. She currently serves on the Congregation leadership team. Previously she ministered as a teacher and administrator at the secondary and university levels.

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  1. Avatar Deb Griffey on April 19, 2024 at 7:05 am

    Absolutely! I am always reminded of Margaret Mead’s statement when I think of making that call or emailing: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    Thank you for this reminder.

  2. Avatar Paula Modaff on April 19, 2024 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for all of the research you did and provided for us to know what is most effective to influence our legislators, Jeanne. Now to get to work and do it!

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