Mainers say we have a fifth season: the season of all things mud. And thanks to summer temperatures last week and current cold, rainy weather, this month actually feels like we are experiencing each season over the span of just a few weeks.
When the spring day rolls around where I find myself outside in a t-shirt, I feel quite eager to head out for a hike. But living in western Maine, among the valleys and mountains, I must remind myself that trails may not be ready for hiking boots just yet.
So, what is one to do while waiting out the wet, muddy trail season in Maine? This month I’ve been channeling my itch for getting outdoors by upping my advocacy game.
April is a busy month at the State House in Augusta, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine has been active in standing behind a number of legislative priorities this session. Activity got off to a slow start but is now in full swing, and citizen engagement is important.
Recently, I attended an online workshop that concentrated on letter writing when advocating for climate change. From my note taking, I gathered my top three tips when writing to your local legislators and letters to the editor. So, let’s dive in!
Tips when writing to your local legislator:
- They know the facts and figures. Identify the issue, share how you feel/why it’s important, and what you want them to do about it.
- Doesn’t need to be an essay; keep it short and stay on point.
- Be polite, always. Getting angry doesn’t motivate change.
Fun fact: When you write a letter to a politician, it’s equivalent to expressing concern to 50-200 people!
Tips when writing a letter to the editor to your local paper:
- Write a clear opening sentence.
- This is not the place to get creative with prose. Instead, keep your letter clear, to the point, and concise. Suggested word limit is 250 words.
- Consider writing about a story the paper has published or reply to a letter.
Letters to the editor are a great way to reach a broader crowd.
If you are feeling ready to dive in, and are in support of the new Maine Trails Bond, you have an upcoming opportunity to take action and make a difference. The public hearing for LD 1156 will take place at the end of this month, and submitting written testimony to the Committee is a proactive way to get your voice heard.
Writing to your legislators and letters to the editor can initially feel intimating. I know because that’s how I felt. But I hope these tips encourage you to give it a try, and know that when you care about something, it’ll come through in a positive way in your words. Let your passion motivate you.
—Sarah Sindo, NRCM Rising Leadership Team member