Difficulty: Medium to Very Hard
Think global, act local! Think about some big ideas and values that matter to you. ( Such as the ones you may have discovered by reading EQxD Action #11). Often the most straightforward and impactful way into those issues is through advocacy and activism within one’s own local community. There are many ways to get involved with policy change at a local level. Click on the links in the list below to explore some ideas.
Attend a local meeting - In most communities, the city council, planning commission, and zoning commission all hold regular public meetings. The agenda is published before the meeting so that you can keep track of when matters that are important to you will be discussed.
Attend your Congressional Representative’s Town Hall - Most members of congress hold regular town hall meetings in which constituents are given an opportunity to ask their representatives to publicly address their concerns. These meetings are generally covered by the press, so they provide a way to build awareness for your issue, especially if you attend with a group of like-minded constituents.
Become more aware of the issues that affect you professionally and personally - There are many resources now that keep you connected on the policies/laws being implemented and pro/con issues related to each.
Call or Visit your Elected Official’s Office - Find your elected official right now!
Volunteer with a Local Organization (There are thousands of options out there that can serve most any interest!)
Organize an Outreach Event - Outreach events provide an opportunity to engage with your neighbors, and discuss the issues that are most important to you in your community. This consensus-building process helps shape a shared vision for the future of your community. The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development has useful toolkits for organizing this type of event in support of their New Urban Agenda.
Become a community leader
Join a Board or a Committee - There are a host of local and state-level boards and committees that would benefit from architects’ voices. Like Florida, your local or state AIA may have a list of committee appointments, and may even offer assistance with the application process.
Run for Office! - Whether you plan to run for your local school board, or are contemplating a run for city council, there are a host of resources available to first-time candidates hoping to make an impact in their communities.
Why it is Important:
While your values and goals are likely expansive, you don’t need to change federal laws to make a positive impact. Many of the policies that shape our workplaces and the built environment, from paid leave policies to zoning ordinances that provide equitable access to housing and public spaces to regulations governing environmental stewardship, are legislated at the local or state level. By getting involved in local organizations and politics, we, as architects, can leverage our reputation as creative problem solvers to delve into complex issues and advocate for a better future for our communities and the environments that they inhabit.
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Description of difficulty levels:
Very Easy - Takes no more than a couple of minutes, requires almost no effort
Easy - Takes no more than fifteen to thirty minutes, requires little effort
Medium - Takes no more than an hour, moderate effort required, might have to put yourself out there a bit
Hard - Takes a couple of hours, effort required, will have to put yourself out there.
Very Hard - Takes more than a couple of hours, may be a recurring commitment. Requires a solid amount of effort. Challenge yourself!