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#SpeakUpFor Science: An Advocacy Getting Started Guide

Looking to make a difference in your community? Want to advocate for change but not exactly sure where to start? Or, maybe you have already started a grassroots effort and want to make sure you stay on track?

You have come to the right place! Welcome to Science for Georgia's guide to making a science-based change in your community! We have a lot of experience in helping communities find assistance with environmental and health issues. The following isa step-by-step guide to advocating in the state of Georgia.

In an ever-evolving world where environmental challenges increasingly impact our lives , evidence-based scientific approaches are crucial to our communities’ well-being. This guide will empower you to advocate effectively for positive, science-backed transformations in the state of Georgia. Let's get started on this path of meaningful change!

Step 0 to meaningful change is to learn how to effectively communicate with policymakers. You may or may not have voted for them, but they represent you, they work for you, and they want to hear from you. 

Getting Started Guide

Not sure where to start? This page a bit too long?

Check out TL;DR quick hits to get started.

Wait. How Does the Government Work?

Need a refresher on the three branches and how a bill becomes a law?

Step 1: Form a Posse!

This exciting journey begins by asking, "What is it I  want to happen?" and then asking, "Who is going to help me make that happen?" None of the great leaders, movers, or activists of history acted alone. They needed help, and you do too. And how can you get help or start working towards that goal without setting a clear purpose? 

Identify Your Problem

Identify the problem you want to solve. 

First, write a paragraph about the problem. 

Then take this paragraph and boil it down to two key sentences.

Now reduce it further. Can you capture the problem in just five words?

This is your North Star. Use this to stay focused on your message. 

Build Your Core Group
Create a Growth Elevator Pitch
Grow to a Committed Posse
Brainstorm a Detailed Solution
Grow to a "Crowd" of Supporters

Here are some links to some examples that will help you on your journey to identifying a problem and a solution that will work for YOU.

Pro tips

  • Seek input from coworkers/experts, peers, and friends to gauge their interest in joining your cause.
  • To spread the word effectively, utilize various channels such as flyers, workplace announcements, and social media.
  • Engage with like-minded individuals who share your passion for science advocacy.

To analyze your entire issue space, you may want to do an Stakeholder Analysis. Download our handout. 

Step 2: Contact Policymakers

Okay! Now that you have a clearly defined solution and understand how it can benefit a large group of people, you must involve the people in power. Bring your problem and solution to them, show them who it affects and why, and get them excited to help you with your cause. 

Aside: Even if passing a bill doesn’t turn out to be the right avenue for your cause, legislators can still help. They can connect you with the right people, funders, programs to help with what you need! And if you can talk to them, you can talk to anybody!

Okay, but actually contacting your legislator can be a scary concept. They are in a whole other category! But really they are just regular folk. Most of the year they have some other day job. They are often very personable and they want to impress you, the voter! Its like when spiders are more scared of you than you are of them. They work for you!

Being clear, concise, and actionable in your messaging is crucial for effective advocacy.

  • To grab the attention of busy policymakers amidst a sea of competing issues.
    • A brief message ensures that your core points are comprehended and remembered, avoiding confusion. Moreover, clarity promotes inclusivity, making your advocacy accessible to a broader audience.
  • Clear and actionable messaging fosters trust and professionalism, reducing the risk of misinterpretation.
    • By adhering to these principles, you increase the chances of your message being heard, understood, and acted upon, ultimately driving positive change for your cause.

Step 3: Develop Concrete Change Solutions

Once you have a decision maker onboard, come up with a concrete solution. How is this solution implemented? What is legal? What is possible?

  • Get the experts involved. You got connected with some higher powers in the last step—legislators, senators, mayors etc. Ask them what solutions are available. Listen to what they have to say.
  • Understand if you need a bill, a rule, a proclamation, a lawsuit, or awareness
  • Regroup with your posse. With more information about what the law can offer, go back to your constituents and regroup! How will you modify your goals? Set expectations? Make plans to address everyone’s needs?
  • Iterate This process may be ongoing, and it is important that you continue to keep your peers represented.

Along the way, you will need to stay involved to make sure the goals of your stakeholders are being considered. Building consensus among a larger group of stakeholders fosters a sense of ownership and shared responsibility, paving the way for collaborative success and fostering a stronger sense of community and common purpose. 

You may find that the solution your posse is aiming for might not be as cost-effective or realistic as you hoped. Thats okay, go back and work through the worksheet in Step 1 again. And check out this infographic on building consensus among a larger group of stakeholders.

Step 4: Advocate for Change

Now that you have a workable solution, it’s time to get it passed and implemented. To do that, you need broad support. And then you need to get that support to be vocal and urge implementation. 

Possible Activities

  • Letter writing campaign
  • Day at the Capitol
  • Social media campaign
  • Petition to show support

Create a Toolkit

At this point, you want to ask for broad support for your issue. That means making it very easy for others to engage and complete your ask.

Creating a toolkit will help you engage with your audience and make it very easy for them to help spread the word. Components of the toolkit should include:

  • Sample email / phone call to a legislator
  • Link to how to find your legislator
    • Legislators hate canned email from non-constituents!
  • Talking points about your issue
  • A flyer about your issue

Going to the Capitol

The Georgia General Assembly building is open to the public.

You can go to the state capitol and...

  • Provide commentary on a bill in a hearing. That's right. You can walk into the hearing, put your name on a list, and speak. You typically only get 2 minutes, so use that elevator pitch!
  • Talk to your representative
    • Stop by their office / make an appointment / pull them off the floor
    • Wait, What? Pull them off the floor? Huh?
      • When the General Assembly is in session and legislators are in the chamber, you can send a request for them to come meet you "at the ropes" outside the chamber. For the Senate, go to the 3rd floor, for the House, go to the 4th floor. Ask someone to direct you to where you can request to see your legislator.

Remember to come prepared with a

  • Photo ID - you need one to enter
  • 30 sec elevator pitch
  • Name of your legislator
  • Bring leave behind à flyer, sticker, something! A memento of your visit makes you more memorable.

These videos below will help you navigate the Georgia General Assembly page so you can find what you are looking for.

Science for Georgia is a 501(c)(3). We work to build a bridge between scientists and the public and advocate for the responsible use of science in public policy.

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