Props to Pennsylvania! 10 volunteers visit all 20 PA offices
By Flannery Winchester
Last Wednesday, 10 volunteers from CCL’s Pennsylvania chapters set off toward DC. They were on a mission. Jerry Lee Miller, the lead organizer of the trip, said, “We wanted to convey that there’s a growing movement of people who want their members of Congress to get involved in climate solutions.”
In the span of just one afternoon, this enthusiastic group of volunteers conveyed that message to all 20 Pennsylvania congressional offices.
Cards and connections
Jim Sandoe, Dr. Susan Finn Miller and Rev. Jerry Lee Miller represented the Lancaster chapter. Zig Herzog and Jane Jacobs attended on behalf of the newly formed Chambersburg chapter. From Harrisburg were Rachel Mark, Anne Searer and Deb Reilly. Dr. Mort Rubenstein and Myrna Rubenstein came from the York chapter.
Early on the morning of January 11, this statewide crew set off toward Capitol Hill, arriving by about 10:30. They met with a few CCL staffers based in DC, and then got down to the work of lobbying.
Of 20 planned office visits, 15 were drop-offs of some CCL materials. “We had 11-by-14 glossy posters featuring a collage of photographs from CCL meetings across Pennsylvania,” Miller explained. One of the photos was of a large banner, signed by Pennsylvanians all over the state, prompting a discussion about Carbon Fee and Dividend. The drop-offs also included a Pennsylvania-themed greeting card for each representative with a message showing appreciation for their service and asking them to work on bipartisan solutions to climate change.
And with five of the offices, the group was able to schedule staff meetings. They met with the staff of Democratic Senator Bob Casey and Republican representatives Lloyd Smucker, Bill Shuster, Charlie Dent and Scott Perry.
In the meeting with Rep. Shuster’s staff, Zig Herzog from the newly formed Chambersburg chapter made a real connection with the office. Rep. Shuster has worked to bring awareness and resources to the fight against Lyme disease, which is more common in Pennsylvania than any other state. Not only is the disease an issue for Pennsylvania, but our volunteers discovered that it’s personal to that office—one of the staffers had Lyme disease as a child. Zig showed the staffers a letter to the editor he had written and gotten published, in which he thanked Rep. Shuster for his work on that issue. Then, he connected the spread of Lyme disease to the warming climate. In just one meeting, they were able to show that CCL will vocally support a representative who goes out on a limb for an important issue, and that climate change is an issue that affects all our priorities in some way.
Another positive interaction took place in Rep. Smucker’s office. Miller said, “We had a good visit with his legislative assistant, Noelle. She had come from a Senate office and had had interaction with CCLers when she was in that office. She knew exactly who we were, and she had a good impression of that chapter, so it was a great boost to our relationship with that office.”
Overall, Miller said, “We had five great meetings.” In addition to establishing and building relationships, the volunteers also laid groundwork for the next steps. “Our ask was for a face-to-face meeting in the district during the spring break.”
Get inspired for the Spring Lobby Drive
Their example is a great one as we head into the spring, because right now, chapters across the country are gearing up for the Spring Lobby Drive. The aim of the drive is to organize meetings with your representative while they’re home in your district, meaning it’s a great opportunity for volunteers to lobby even if they cannot travel to DC for the June conference.
Sign into the CCL Community to get all the details about the Spring Lobby Drive, including how to coordinate with other chapters, how to request a meeting with your representative, meeting planning tips, online training schedules and more.
As Miller and the Pennsylvania volunteers showed, with some effort and planning, you can make big strides in your relationships with your representatives. Whether your meetings happen in DC or in your district, in the spring or in June, they’re a cornerstone of CCL’s work. It’s not possible without you.