We kicked off our Civic Engagement Brown Bag Series with a session focused on finding and communicating with your state legislators. This is a key step in building your confidence and toolkit for being an ocean advocate!  There will be several more sessions coming up on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12pm on a variety of topics and with some fantastic guest presenters.

It’s not too late to Register HERE.

If you want to watch the full recording of our first session, scroll down to the bottom of this post.  Otherwise, here are the central take-aways…

Legislators are here to make changes and they need to hear from YOU!  It may seem intimidating, but it’s actually quite easy…

Quick Overview of the Oregon Legislature

The Oregon Legislative Assembly (aka the Legislature) is divided into the upper house (aka The Senate) and the lower house (aka the House of Representatives).  There are 30 Senators and they serve four year terms. There are 60 Representatives and they serve two year terms. Each Senate district is composed of exactly two House districts.

       Senate Districts                                                     House Districts

 

Find your Legislator

Go to the Find Your Legislator page and enter your physical address (not PO Box). The map will zoom into your district and you can click on the different tabs in the pop-up box to see your State Senator, Representative, and Federal Congressperson. You will find their contact information and a link to their webpage.

Research Your Legislators

  • Check out their webpages
  • Sign up for their newsletters to receive updates
  • Follow them on social media
  • See how they’ve voted in the past on their Environmental Scorecard

Communication Methods

  • Make a phone call. It will likely go to voicemail. If your prefer to leave voicemails, make sure to call after hours or on weekends.
  • Send an email.
  • Set up a meeting. This is the best way to have a real conversation with them!
  • Tag them on social media.  This could be thanking them for something they’ve done, alerting them to an issue, or asking for support.
  • Invite them to events!

Formula for Communication

  • Who are you? (Including where you live and your role in the community. Are you a business owner? Teacher? Parent?)
  • Why you care about this issue.
  • What you are personally doing to address the issue.
  • What you want them to do to address the issue. Say their name and be specific!  For example, “I want Representative Wright to vote Yes on House Bill 2617.”
  • Thank them for their service. Being appreciative goes a long way.

Example

My name is Sarah and I live in Depoe Bay. I walk the beach every day and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t see plastic. I’m always worried about my 3 year old daughter picking up the small plastic pieces and swallowing them. I also worry about the plastic in the seafood we eat. I want Representative Gomberg to vote yes on House Bills 2365 and 2617 to protect our coast and our communities from harmful plastic pollution. I would be happy to discuss this more with the Representative and can follow up via email with some more information about the bills.

  • In person meetings are scheduled far in advance, often by the organization but individuals can arrange them, too.
  • During COVID restrictions, meetings can be scheduled virtually.
  • Get to know your legislators. If you find out they love Star Wars, show up to the meeting with your memorabilia!
  • Remember legislators are people, too. They like to have fun and certainly like a good photo-op.

Take Home Points

  • Your don’t need to be an expert on science or policy to talk to your legislators. They don’t expect you to be!
  • There are many ways to contact them and it’s much easier than it may seem.
  • As part of the electorate, you are technically their boss! They want to hear from you!

Now It’s Time to Take Action!

  • Find your legislators and their contact information. Check their scorecard.
  • Communicate with them in at least one format and ask them to support House Bill 2617 for a Foam-Free Oregon!

Thank Your For Being an Advocate!

Full length recording: