With the chaos of the political parties' nominating conventions over, members of Congress have returned to their states and districts for a five week August recess.
Make the most of this extended opportunity to reach out to your legislators. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Tweet a photo of your local park using #MyLocalPark and tag your members of Congress. Congressional Twitter handles can be found on your legislators webpages, accessible through house.gov and senate.gov.
- Send a letter using APA's Legislative Action Center, where you will find pre-drafted letters on APA policy priorities like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and funding in the upcoming FY 2017. This is an easy way to get involved — sending the letters to all three of your legislators takes less than two minutes — and can have a big impact in offices.
- Call your members of Congress to tell them about the important planning issues facing your communities and ask them to support LWCF and a long-term spending bill for the upcoming FY 2017. You can use the Legislative Action Network as a resource for messaging, including the talking points in the letters. Contact information for your legislators can be found on their webpages.
- Schedule a meeting with your legislators or their staff. Lawmakers are home for the longest recess of the year and they frequently bring their DC-based policy staff. Take the opportunity to schedule a meeting with the district office closest to you to discuss planning issues in your community. Visit APA's Advocacy Toolbox for scheduling tips and advice on how to have an effective meeting.
- Register for APA's Policy and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. Focused on federal, state, and local policy issues, the Policy and Advocacy Conference is a great opportunity to learn what is new in planning policy and meet with your lawmakers to support good planning legislation. The conference runs from September 18–20, 2016. Registration is now open.
- Join APA's Planners' Advocacy Network. Planners' Advocacy Network (PAN) is the voice of the American Planning Association on Capitol Hill. Regardless of your advocacy experience level or your current involvement with APA, you can speak up and advance planning in Washington, DC and across the nation. It is free and open to all APA members. When you join, you'll tap into a wealth of resources, including email updates, webinars, and special events. You'll also save $100 on registration for the Policy and Advocacy Conference. If you're interested in doing more, volunteer to become a Congressional district or state captain to lead advocacy efforts in your area. Email GovtAffairs@planning.org to volunteer.
About the Author
Tess Hembree is policy manager at Advocacy Associates.
Top image: Tweet a photo or call your member of Congress during the August recess. Photo in the public domain.