This article is part of a special series from our fall 2019 climate issue on how you can level up your actions against climate change. Visit the full Climate Action Guide here.
Lobbying isn’t just for major corporations. Anyone can meet with state legislators to discuss issues, and advocacy groups like Audubon often organize events called lobby days for constituents to do just that. These gatherings usually happen at the state capitol and can even require hanging out in the hall hoping for a meeting (it is called “lobbying”). But if you don’t want to wait for a formal lobby day, you can also schedule your own sit-down, either as an individual or as part of a group. Whatever your approach, the key is making your voice heard. “So few people meaningfully engage in the democratic process,” says Claire Douglass, national campaigns senior director for the National Audubon Society. “This is still a democracy.”
Request a Meeting
Every state representative has a website with contact information, so send an email introducing yourself as a constituent, requesting a meeting, and noting the issues you’d like to discuss. An office scheduler might reply, but if not, follow up in a few weeks by email or by phone. For the best chance of success, have a flexible calendar, Douglass advises.
Have a Goal
Whether meeting your rep alone or in a group, have a clear sense of what you want to achieve. For groups, discuss talking points and strategy before you sit down, including your specific ask—100 percent clean energy reform, for instance—and who will make the request.
Show Your Unity
Official lobby days can be busy and crowded. One easy way to project solidarity is by wearing the same colored shirts or hats. The message: We are here, and we are united.
Make It Personal
In your meeting, try to connect with your representative by explaining why exactly you and your community care. “Your personal story helps show, not tell,” Douglass says. (Here's how to find your personal climate story.)
Send a thank-you note and remind your lawmaker about specific points from the meeting. And if they end up supporting your bill or issue, show your appreciation again—to them and publicly if you can. “Thanking your legislators can have an outsize influence because so few people do,” Douglass says.