Nurturing hope and empowerment: Reflections on lobbying

Young CCLers preparing for lobby meetings.

Nurturing hope and empowerment: Reflections on lobbying

By Karen Jackson, volunteer with CCL Salt Lake City, Utah

CCL’s November lobby week just came to a close, and we had over 280 virtual meetings held by volunteers across the country! They worked to generate support for our primary and secondary asks: the BIG WIRES Act, the RISEE Act, and the Increased TSP Access Act.

Lobbying our elected officials is a critical part of what it means to be a climate advocate with CCL. CCL’s core values guide our citizen lobbyists as they work to generate political will for a livable world. After our conference and lobby day on Capitol Hill earlier this year, eight Utah students reflected on their experiences of finding realistic hope and direction through lobbying. 

Zeke Peters explains how the D.C. conference gave him the ability to find common ground and how inspired he is to continue lobbying: 

“D.C. was incredible and so was the conference. My only regret is I did not learn about CCL sooner! My biggest takeaway is the ability to really reach across party lines on an issue that has felt so polarizing for so long. My father-in-law and I have something to talk about that we agree on now — permitting reform! (He may work in Big Oil, but still!)  

I have been writing letters and emails back to people we met with and other interested parties I met in D.C. It truly is incredible the sway and ability we have as organized citizens. I also had a distorted view of lobbying, and now I think I may want to do it all the time. Working together on issues and making deals is not as ‘under the table’ as it seems, and everyone wants to do what they think best. I am hopeful for the future and excited for what CCL continues to bring and teach me over the years!”  

Hailey Keller describes her second experience in D.C. with CCL like this: 

“Each year at the conference I learn more lobbying, interpersonal, and life skills than I ever could imagine. Each year I gain friendships that I am certain will last for my life. The sense of community and passion that radiates from every person I met from across the country has given me enough energy to pursue my passion of advocating for the environment and sustainability, public health, and equity.”

Sydney Shaw explains how she was prepared by CCL to have an impactful lobby meeting: 

“I didn’t know anything about what a lobbying meeting actually looked like before this trip but felt confident in my abilities after learning the basics in a workshop and actively meeting with Congress members. Going to the Capitol building and experiencing everything for the first time was eye opening. I felt inspired to do more work for the planet and was ecstatic about how many possibilities there are and ways to tackle the issues we face with the climate crisis. I would highly recommend [CCL] to anyone wanting to dip their toes in the policy world!” 

Daelon Gilbert-Bland paints a picture of how CCL volunteers gain hope and optimism through the lobbying experience:

“Our lobbying efforts were probably my favorite part of the whole trip! Being able to go inside the Capitol buildings and see the inner workings of our government was equal parts exhilarating and humbling. Each year I learn more and become more confident in my ability to have an impact by lobbying.” 

Luis Garcia had this to say about his experience:

“I had the privilege of engaging with members of Congress and their dedicated staff to discuss crucial policies to combat climate change. Through our advocacy efforts, we had the unique opportunity to gain insights into their aspirations and viewpoints…My time in D.C. was genuinely enriching, and the entire lobbying experience left a lasting impact on me. I enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to contribute to the fight against climate change and encourage anyone interested in joining this important cause to reach out.” 

In a world where uncertainty looms and challenges seem insurmountable, Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s transformative initiatives offer hope. The conference and lobbying experiences stand as a testament to the power of unity and determination, as volunteers — including students — from all corners of the globe converge to learn, connect, and advocate for a sustainable future. With a commitment to core values that transcend divisions, attendees leave equipped with the tools to bridge political gaps and forge meaningful relationships.

These testimonials of Utah’s youth paint a vivid portrait of the conference’s impact, from newfound abilities to find common ground to a deep-seated inspiration to continue lobbying for change. Each story underscores the invaluable lessons learned, the friendships forged, and the dedication to affecting real change. As these young advocates channel their energies into driving policy shifts and combating the climate crisis, the ripple effect of hope and determination they embody promises a brighter path for generations to come. 

Are you a student who is interested in lobbying with us? Find out more and get involved by joining CCL Youth.

And mark your calendar for the next upcoming climate conference and lobby day!