We continue to welcome guests into our parking lot as a part of the Safe Parking program, and there continues to be a lack of support and affordable housing for far too many people, including families.
We’re not powerless in addressing the issue of those who are without houses to live in, and Cindy Hackett, one of our stalwart volunteers, offers this opportunity to engage the issue in our state legislature.
Rev. Linda Hart
Use Your Voice
Each of us can use our voice to engage in the democratic process, to inform those we elect about the issues we are passionate about, to urge them to vote in a way that reflects our values, to vote towards a more just and compassionate community. Political advocacy – in addition to direct action – is a way we can act on our UU Principles.
There is pending local, state, and national legislation that is in-alignment and out-of-alignment with our UU Purposes and Principles. I experience the information about pending legislation as a bit overwhelming, so I suggest using the tracking option that the Washington State bill information website offers to identify state legislation relevant to your interest area. The Search and Tracking Tools option helps identify pending legislation in a timely manner to allow more time to call, write a letter or send an email to our voting representatives.
Identifying an organization that focuses on the issue you want to advocate about is another way to keep informed about proposed legislation. For example, the Washington State branch of the Poor People’s Campaign will keep you updated about proposed legislation in Washington State about health care, affordable housing, renters’ rights and other issues relevant to the inherent worth and dignity of every person and justice, compassion and equity in human relations.
Although there is never a wrong time to contact your representatives with your views on pending legislation, the Washington State legislative session ends April 24. Look at the status of legislation about issues that speak to your heart and values and use your voice.
So, how to lobby effectively? There are many internet sites offering advocacy best practices. Here is a distillation of this information:
- Focus on an issue and be well-informed. Have a goal and do your research not only about the topic of the bill but the progress of the bill through the session.
- Decide how to communicate: in person (requires significant planning), by phone, by letter, by email. (Many articles suggested that email may be most effective for legislative staffers which makes it most effective for legislators.)
- Address your legislators correctly and use their correct titles.
- Identify yourself and reference the issue and the relevant bill (by number and name if possible) at the beginning of your message.
- Be brief.
- Let your representative know how you want them to vote and include three points outlining why.
- Include personal, lived experience stories – yours or others – if possible.
- Use your own words or, if you are basing your email/letter/phone call on suggested language, change it enough that it sounds like a personal appeal.
- Always include an email and physical address, in case your representative wants to get in touch with you and to affirm that you are a constituent.
- Stay respectful.
Please consider using your voice with your legislators to advocate for legislation that reflects your values. Every voice matters. Participating in legislative ministry is a spiritual practice.
Questions? Contact the TUUC Social Justice Subcommittee on Housing Insecurity at TUUCHousingSubComm at gmail dot com.