Conservation from the Couch: Taking impactful actions (plus tips for talking to your MLA!)

May 8, 2020
By: admin

Conservation from the Couch How to take action with impact (plus tips for talking to your MLA!)

Published [post_published]
Tara Russell

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Physical distancing has made it feel even more difficult to stand up for what you believe in. We have heard from thousands of Albertans about their concerns with the Government of Alberta’s plan to remove and close parks, everyone asking how they can help stop these changes make sure that Alberta’s parks are still well taken care of and there for us when the pandemic is over.

So while you are safe at home, what can you do to defend Alberta Parks?  We have put together a quick guide to help break down how your actions can have the most impact. 

The Engagement Hierarchy: Which actions are most impactful?

  • Meeting with your MLA (See below for some added tips!)
    • This is the most impactful action you can take to affect change. Taking the time to have a conversation with your elected official allows you to discuss your concerns in detail and explain your personal connection to the issue. You don’t have to be an expert or know all the details – just why it matters to you. This can be done over the phone or in-person; the conversation is the important part!
  • Calling your MLA or the Minister
    • Taking the time to call your MLAs or the Minister’s office can also have a significant impact. Politely and clearly outline your concerns, and ask for a follow up (a callback, meeting or letter about your topic). One or two sentences about what you are calling about and your opinion is enough. Calling ensures the office is aware of your concerns and makes it more likely they will take the time to respond to you. 
  • Sending a letter/email
    • Letters and emails allow you to explain why you feel the way you do in a clear and detailed manner. Again you don’t have to be an expert, a few sentences on why it is important to you is enough. Many organizations provide templates, which provide a great level of detail. However, a personal letter always holds more weight with elected officials, so if you can, always add personal details/concerns to the template letters or write your own. Letters can be sent as hard-copy or email.
  • Engage your network
    • Missing your hiking/skiing buddies? Give them a call! Check in with your network and let them know what is going on with the changes to Alberta Parks. Share the above actions with them. 
    • Social media can be another important tool used in political engagement. Sharing resources and posts on online platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be a venue to not only voice your concerns but to encourage others in your network to be a part of the conversation. This can be an effective way in getting elected officials to pay attention, and create sustained movements. 
    • If you are a part of other groups and organizations, chatting with fellow members and asking them to sign a petition or send a letter/email to their MLA may be another way to broaden your reach. 
  • Signing a petition 
    • Signing an online petition can be an important step to signal to the government how many people care about an issue. However, only specifically formatted petitions that are signed in hard-copy can be legally presented in the Legislature. It is important to take actions beyond signing a petition. 

Tips for writing to your MLA:

  • Make it clear and concise:
    • If you can get your point across in one or two paragraphs, that is ideal but even just a few sentences are good too!
    • Be personal. Why is this important to you, and how is it impacting you?
  • End with a clear ask:
    • Clearly define what it is you are asking them to do about the issue.
    • Conclude your letter by asking for a meeting, phone call, or reply to your letter.
  • Remember to cc relevant ministers:
  • Meetings are the most productive:
    • If you can, always ask for a meeting with your MLA to discuss your concerns.
  • Remember to follow up:
    • If you don’t hear back within one week, follow up with a phone call or another email

Are you ready to take action?

Find your MLA here: https://streetkey.elections.ab.ca/

Read more about the issue: https://cpawsnab.org/alberta-parks-fact-check

Send a Letter while you’re at it: Bit.ly/DefendABParks

Like what we are doing? Donate to help us defend Alberta’s parks!

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