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Plan a CCL Tour: Here’s how Georgia did it

From left, Henry Slack, Terry Schiff, Vernon Dixon and Dale Stratford.

From left, Henry Slack, Terry Schiff, Vernon Dixon and Dale Stratford.

Plan a CCL Tour: Here’s how Georgia did it

By Flannery Winchester

Inspired by the success of the Texas Energy Freedom Tour last year, a group of volunteers from CCL’s Georgia chapters decided to craft a tour of their own. At the beginning of April, Henry Slack, Vernon Dixon, Dale Stratford and Terry Schiff took CCL’s message on a three-day sprint through four South Georgia cities. The group organized presentations at a public library and a college campus, to local groups and student organizations, and even with one congressional aide who agreed to a 10-minute chat. They visited Albany, Tifton, Valdosta, and Savannah. Venturing into the rural south, this group found something you might not have expected: audience after audience of receptive, eager listeners.

Here’s how they crafted the Georgia Clean Energy Tour and made it a success — and how you can plan one of your own!

Connect With Local Resources

To make the Tifton leg of the tour successful, the Atlanta volunteers reached out to an old friend, Dan Currie, living in the area. Dan and his wife Ellen booked a speaking location in their town, talked up the event to their friends, and connected the CCL volunteers with other civic groups in town. They even offered up a spare bedroom, which helped defray the cost of the tour! Local connections like these also gave the group a window into local environmental issues and priorities, so their presentations and conversations could be even more productive.

Meet People Where They Are

Near Savannah, there’s a landfill where coal ash is being stored. People living nearby are understandably upset about that. Terry Schiff was able to show them that adopting a carbon fee will help reduce our use of fossil fuels, in turn reducing their waste products, like coal ash. “We can take their local problem and connect it to this larger solution,” Terry pointed out. “You don’t even have to get to climate change — just address their local issues.”

Amplify Your Message Through the Press

Henry Slack said, “In Albany, our local contact had run a non-profit for over 20 years and knew all the press people.” This connection allowed them to secure a brief TV interview on the local news and a few pieces in local papers. Based on the viewership and circulation, the team estimated that “local press reached possibly 300 times more people than attended the meetings.”

Don’t Forget the Basics

Give your tour a name. Calling it the Georgia Clean Energy Tour gave these particular meetings more weight than simply saying “Vernon and Henry from CCL are coming to town.” Also, before you leave, make sure you test out any equipment and software you’ll be using and confirm that everything is in working order.

Continue CCL’s Method—Because It Works!

The volunteers met with staffer Alice Kelly in the office of Congressman Austin Scott, a Republican, who represents Georgia’s 8th district. Our CCL volunteers introduced Carbon Fee and Dividend and presented a stack of postcards from constituents supporting the legislation. Ms. Kelly responded that she has seen a change in the way many people think about caring for the environment — even in their predominantly conservative district, many people are concerned about that issue, she said. She promised that Rep. Scott would reply to each of the people who had sent him a postcard about Carbon Fee and Dividend.

This type of interaction shows that no matter where you live, CCL’s model of building political will can work. As we all continue to write letters to the editor, communicate with our representatives, and meet with them personally to convey our concern about climate change, we are truly moving the needle every day. And when volunteers join together to plan and execute a tour like this, they move that needle even further. So what are you waiting for? Plan a tour for your state or region today!

Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.