Mid-winter in Vermont means any number of things, including spring skiing, the threshold of mud season, maple sugaring and initiatives in the state legislature. Our legislators have few support staff, and they depend on their constituants to help shape legislation and the state budget. One way for non-profits to help their own members help their legislators is to issue eMail “action alerts”, which provide all of the information needed for the member to take a position on a particular issue. I had a good one today from Local Motion, a transportation advocacy organization that supports walking and bicycling.

Dear Local Motion Members:

Your help is needed to pass H.198, the Complete Streets bill, which would change Vermont transportation policy to ensure that the needs of all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and older drivers – are considered and accommodated in state and locally managed transportation projects. Complete streets provide safe, accessible ways to get around, help young and old be physically active, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save on gas bills.Legislators are home this week for Town Meeting Day, and now is an important time to contact them about Complete Streets. We need your help to make sure Complete Streets is a priority for action in the House Transportation Committee.  Please contact members of this committee by mail, email or phone and ask them to support the bill.  If your legislator is not on the Transportation Committee, they need to hear from you too!

Click here for fact sheets and talking points (link)

Click here for a list of Transportation Committee members (link)

More information is at: http://www.localmotion.org.  Thank you for all your support for active transportation and recreation!

Signed (name of the executive director) Local Motion, Executive Director

organization address
web site
email address

Local Motion is a non-profit organization promoting active transportation and recreation for healthy and sustainable Vermont communities.

Get out and get active this winter — at the Intervale Ski Trail or Great Ice in Grand Isle!

The beauty of this eMail is that Local Motion has now given me all of the tools that I need to contact my own representatives in the House and Senate with a position.
1. A short paragraph describing the bill, with a bill number.
2. A call to action.  “Do XYZ”.
3. Links to a fact sheet
4. Links to talking points
5. Links to a list of legislators.
6. Contact  information for the organization
7. A tag line suggesting a relative activity sponsored by the organization.

This gives me everything I need to spend fifteen to thirty minutes or so to create an eMail message to send to my legislators. What’s not to like about that?

Our legislators tell us  that for every one person who contacts them via eMail or phone message, they estimate a minimum of ten other constituants feel the same way. Such contacts are effective. If a legislator receives 100 messages about Bill X, and 10 about Bill Y, then they begin to get a sense of where they might focus their priorities for this particular legislative session.

This kind of personal constituant contact is much more effective than “email blasts” from advocacy groups or contact with lobbyists.  State politics are a contact sport. It can be fun and individuals really can influence the outcome of a legislative session.

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