By Alex Samuels
Original Story Here
Five community organizers tell us how they rally people around issues like school funding and the environment.
Dallas-Fort Worth program director, Texas Campaign for the Environment
Key issues: safer regulations for the disposal of sludge waste, preserving local options to restrict single-use check-out bags and expanding access to recycling and composting programs in cities
Location: Austin, Dallas and Houston
Number of members: Approximately 30,000
Get involved: Website or Facebook
“When you have strength in numbers, those lawmakers are counting you as constituent voters in their district and they’re going to take that seriously.”
— Corey Troiani
What kinds of organizing methods are most effective and why?
Corey Troiani: The leading organizing method that we use is face-to-face organizing. We send canvassers into communities to talk directly to constituents of state lawmakers and residents of Texas who care about environmental issues. I think talking to people face-to-face is the best way to get them engaged, involved and invested in issues like these.
Biggest challenges in getting people to engage around your issue?
CT: I think one of the challenges that we face is this sort of “armchair activism,” where people sit back and sign a petition or take some sort of action through a website and feel like that is their contribution to an issue. We can’t just sign a single petition and expect legislation to change.
How do local movements play at the state level and impact the state debate?
CT: I think grassroots and local groups have an impact because, regardless of where you are in the state, grassroots organizations are working with strength in numbers. Assuming that you have a good campaign strategy, you’re putting pressure on a state lawmaker or some other target that you can have an impact with. When you have strength in numbers, those lawmakers are counting you as constituent voters in their district and they’re going to take that seriously.
What kind of engagement are you seeing post-election?
CT: I’m seeing that people are understanding that politics is important and that participating is important. Somebody who just thought, “I’m going to go vote at the polls every couple of years or every four years,” is now somebody who wants to know when their local representative is having a town hall meeting and going to that.
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