You have the power to transform our government
By Claire Squire
Growing up, Sam Daley-Harris always cared about poverty and hunger, but assumed, “If there were solutions, someone would have done something by now.” Today, Sam Daley-Harris is the founder of RESULTS. In this Citizens’ Climate University webinar, he shares how lobbying and citizen advocacy transformed his life and helped him transform national policy on important issues. Plus, hear personal testimonies from three CCL volunteers.
Appreciative bipartisan advocacy
Sam Daley-Harris begins by explaining that advocacy exists upon a spectrum, and that the work his organization and CCL does sits on the “appreciative bipartisan” end. He notes that a primary goal of CCL is to help citizens overcome the powerlessness they often feel when confronted with substantial political challenges, reminding the audience of the Frances Moore Lappé quote, “Our real problem is not a warming planet or rampant malnutrition…we only have one real problem: our own feelings of powerlessness to manifest the solutions right in front of our noses.”
Daley-Harris identifies three main messages he wants people to take away from his talk.
Sam Daley-Harris then provides an example of the ways citizen lobbyists with RESULTS have transformed national policy by using their voices. He explains that in early 2019, after President Trump proposed a 25% cut in funding for a successful child-survival program, “RESULTS volunteers got 153 Republicans and Democrats to sign one letter to the leaders of the Subcommittee of Appropriations” asking them to maintain funding levels. That move proved impactful. Daley-Harris says, “When a committee with 9 members gets a letter signed by 153 of their colleagues…they pay attention.” Ultimately, largely due to the efforts of citizen lobbyists, the program saw a .5% increase in funding, drastically changing the narrative. To hear the whole story, check out the video below:
The final of Daley-Harris’ three main messages is, “If you find an organization committed to dissolving the powerlessness, you can make that profound difference.” Below, three CCL volunteers recount the ways CCL has been that organization for them and has transformed their lives.
As a student at the University of Georgia, Destiny Loyd says that she “wanted to do more than learn about the issues in the classroom,” adding that she “had all this energy and didn’t know where to gear it towards.” After joining CCL, Destiny says that she has become “personally and politically empowered” through her increased knowledge of and participation in her own government. In fact, Destiny found the experience of walking the halls of Congress and lifting her voice so impactful, she is now working to help other young people do the same. With the assistance of Third Coast Regional Coordinator Susan Adams, Destiny created a biweekly call for high school students and middle school students, which ultimately resulted in a youth committee charged with planning a few activities for the 3rd Coast Regional Conference. Destiny adds, “It was amazing to see them work together, be responsible about planning and scheduling, and come up with novel ideas on ways to get students involved.”
Krystal Ford was at a climate activism fair when she first encountered CCL. A mother to two young children and president of the PTA, Krystal had known about climate change for quite some time, but never knew what steps she could take to address the problem. At that fair, she heard a presentation given by CCL volunteers, and has since attended four conferences. She describes getting to talk with her representative as “one of the most powerful experiences,” and feels that her lobbying sessions have yielded great results. To hear Krystal tell the story of her lobbying work, watch the video below:
Grant Couch is a fixture of CCL—he has been a volunteer since June 2013, and co-founded the Conservative Caucus—but he despised politics for most of his life. Grant says he was apolitical and disillusioned by politics, which he saw as “a pox on both houses.” But after a flight through D.C. coincided with a CCL conference, he decided to give political advocacy a chance. During a keynote talk, Grant recalls that the speaker asked the audience “How many Republicans do we have here?” Only three hands went up. After the talk, he approached Executive Director Mark Reynolds about the imbalance, who encouraged him to “do something about it.” In response, Grant co-founded the Conservative Caucus, a step he says he sees as essential because “we need to recognize how important it is to work together and develop human-to-human relationships.”
Citizen lobbying provides ordinary people with the opportunity to make a profound difference on big issues, and oftentimes, it is not just the political landscape that is transformed. By advocating for policies to help improve the world, citizen lobbyists become empowered to better both their communities and their own lives.
To watch the entire training session or go deeper into citizen lobbying, check out CCL Community.
Claire Squire is an intern with CCL’s Communications team and a second-year Environmental Management student at Indiana University.