There are many ways to get involved in sustainability advocacy in your community whether you’ve been active for years or are just starting to get involved. This topic came to us directly from an Ambassador looking to start their journey as a community advocate, so we hope these first steps are a helpful jumping off point for everyone. Though most of the action items in this post are specific to Ann Arbor residents, many can still be replicated in any community.
Take some time to learn about the movements that are important to you and in your community so that you can set goals for the change you want to see.
Many local environmental groups such as the Ecology Center or Sunrise Ann Arbor can often use a hand with email campaigns or social media outreach. Building relationships with these groups can also help you learn about what advocacy work is already being done and where extra help is needed. Voices for Carbon Neutrality, led by several U-M faculty, staff, and alumni, and the student-led U-M Climate Action Movement offer several ways to advocate on campus as well.
Contact Your Representatives.
Take a minute out of your day to call or email your city council members about the issues most important to you. The contact information for every Ann Arbor city council member and Mayor Taylor is available on the city website. Not sure which ward you’re in or who your council members are? Search for your home address using this interactive map.
Attend a City Council Meeting.
This is an opportunity to get an up-close view of what local issues are being discussed and to see how accurately your voice is being represented by your council member. You can also sign up to speak during the public commentary portion of city council meetings. Call the city clerk’s office at (734) 794-6140 anytime after 8 AM on the day of the meeting to reserve one of 10 speaking spots. Student voices are especially valuable in city advocacy!
Local advocacy can often be the most influential form of action because local government is the closest to the people, and these pressure points are often underutilized. While community action has changed in the time of COVID, it is still important to play an active role in policymaking so that you protect the resiliency and health of your community.