Getting to the Heart of the Issue
There’s nothing like first-hand experience to bring an issue “home” In my last post I shared some very sage advice from Florida State Representative Danny Burgess where he talked about “wanting the facts, not just the talking points.”
And while having those facts in written form is very important, witnessing the impact of an issue first-hand is even more powerful. So this week I’d like to share a story from a colleague illustrating what can happen when you experience (or engage in) advocacy in action.
This individual, along with his colleagues and local and state officials, accompanied their law enforcement agency on a raid. The purpose was to highlight the disturbing and growing problem of human trafficking and prostitution within the county. Together, they visited three different establishments, finding not only code violations but illegal activities taking place in each one.
Seeing this first-hand had a very powerful impact on all who were present. But it did more than that. It created a greater awareness of the issue and ultimately a conversation about could be done at the local and state level to address it.
What makes this example so good is that law enforcement who initiated the strategy, included individuals that could do something about the issue AND they engaged them very early. So between now and the next legislative session in Florida, all of the local and state officials can have an in-depth, candid dialogue about filing legislation to address the problem.
So advocates, what can you learn from this scenario?
- Engage lawmakers early and often on an issue important to your community or organization. One conversation won’t be enough.
- If possible, invite them to experience the impact, interact with those affected, etc. to create greater awareness of the importance of your priority.
- Keep them informed post-visit (or interaction) so the issue remains in their thoughts and conversations.
BONUS! In addition to increasing awareness about your issue, you’re also building a relationship with legislators. No matter their political affiliation, one piece of advice they’ve shared over and over again is to communicate often.
Remember…they want to help you, but they can’t do that if they’re not aware of your issue or legislative priority! So once you’ve engaged and interacted with them often and have a solid relationship then it’s time to ask for what you want.
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy