Local commissions have a big role to play in climate change. And there are greater possibilities for individuals to encourage them to act. This mini-blog will cover the basics of how to get started as a local climate advocate.
“I’ve never been to a local commission meeting. What are they like?”
Local commission meetings can be very different depending on the type of commission, its size, and the issue at hand. That being said, there are some general things you can expect. Most likely, the meeting will be open to the public and there will be an opportunity for public comment. The commission will discuss a range of issues and may take votes on decisions.
“What is the best way to prepare for a meeting?”
When first attending meetings, keep the obstacles low to make it feel as easy to check one out. Aim to listen and learn what priorities are currently being moved fowrard. If you feel up for it you can prepare a short personal message about why you care about climate change and ask for more information on what is already in process locally to address climate change.
“Can I speak at the meeting?”
Most likely, yes! There are usually opportunities for public comment. It is best to prepare your comments in advance, and to keep them well under three minutes. This way you can make sure your main points are heard without taking up too much time.
Again, don’t feel pressured to do this at the first meeting you attend. The goal is simply to get comfortable with the environment and learn what issues are active right now.
“What if I don’t have time to attend a meeting?”
There are other ways to stay involved and informed on what is happening with your local commission. Many meetings are now streamed online or recorded, so you can watch them at a later time. You can also reach out to your commissioner directly via email or social media to express your thoughts on climate change action.
“I’m not sure I’m ready to speak up yet. What else can I do?”
At first, don’t put any extra pressure on yourself to speak or achieve anything specifically. Listening and learning to get comfortable with the environment is the main goal. You can also join or start a local group focused on climate change advocacy, such as a parents’ climate action network, faith-based group, or youth climate strike group. These groups can provide support, education, and opportunities to take action together.
“Alright, you’ve convinced me to attend a meeting! Where do I find one?”
The best way to find out about upcoming meetings is to visit your city or county’s website and search for the commission you’re interested in. For example, if you want to learn more about your city’s planning commission, you would search for “city + planning commission.” Once you find the website, there should be a calendar of upcoming meetings.
You can also find information on upcoming meetings by following commissioners on social media or signing up for their email lists. This way you can stay up-to-date on what they’re working on and when the next meeting is.
Attending a local commission meeting is a great way to learn more about what’s happening in your community and to have a say in decisions that are being made. By showing up and speaking up, you can be a powerful advocate for climate action!
Citizens Climate Lobby – national advocacy organization with local chapters focused on climate change exclusively.
ICLEI – offers programs and services to cities to help create and achieve climate goals. Ask if your city is currently a member.
Sierra Club – educates and advocates on a wide variety of environmental issues, including climate change. Has local and state chapters.
Strong Towns – focused on a wide range of issues facing development and policies for cities and towns. A useful reference on issues that interconnect with climate change.
The Nature Conservancy – is a national organization with state chapters working on many environmental issues related to conservation, including climate change.