Getting started: Pick your issue
One of the best ways to work in your community to protect your food and water is by working to pass a local city council resolution to either ban fracking or oppose factory farm abuse of antibiotics. Such a resolution shows your elected officials your community’s commitment to safe food and clean water, and encourages them to support similar legislation at the state or federal level. It’s not hard to do: with a little persistence and hard work, you can help your community make a stand on issues that matter to you. Many of our activists have passed local resolutions, and once they do, most can’t wait to take on bigger challenges.
Pass a resolution to ban fracking in your town or county. Resources:
- Sample resolution language
- Guide to passing a fracking resolution
- Petition to Ban Fracking
- Report: The Urgent Case to Ban Fracking
Pass a city or county-level resolution, calling on Congress to save antibiotics for medicine, not factory farms. Resources:
Launch a Campaign to Pass a Local Resolution
Once you pick your issue, use the steps outlined below to educate and build local support around your cause. If you’d like to connect with a Food & Water Watch organizer, contact your regional organizer.
If you have questions or need help as you work through this process, contact Katy Kiefer, Food & Water Watch Activist Network Manager at 202-683-4939 or [email protected]watch.org.
Step 1: Have an initial planning meeting
Before approaching members of your city council or launching your campaign, you’ll want to get a core group of people together to help you work on the campaign, An initial planning meeting is a good way to bring other interested members of your community together and build a core group that can work to get the resolution passed.
Recruit people to an initial planning meeting by talking with friends, conducting general outreach to community or neighborhood groups, or by collecting petition signatures at your local farmers market to identify people in your community who are supportive.
At the initial meeting, lay out the goals of the campaign and decide on a regular meeting time and place that will work for the group on an ongoing basis.
Step 2: Do your homework
The first step to passing a resolution is doing some research and planning a strategy. Either before your initial planning meeting or as a next step, it’s important to do a little bit of research to determine how to get started. You’ll need to clearly identify your goal, understand how your city council works, and map out a strategy for moving the resolution forward.
Research your city council
To pass a resolution, you’ll need to identify your targets — the people who have the power to give you what you want. Who’s your best ally on the council to introduce the resolution? How many votes do you need to pass it? Are there key members whom others listen to? Does the mayor have a vote on the council just like any other member, or does he or she have the power to veto a resolution if it is passed?
Consider your resources and potential allies
Who is in your core group and what resources do they bring? Does anyone have relationships with members of the council or other community groups? Brainstorm other individuals and organizations that might help you. Think particularly about why these potential allies might join you — why would they care about your campaign and what might they bring?
Step 3: Conduct Outreach
You’ll need to reach out to individuals and organizations in your community in order to show a broad base of support behind your resolution.
There’s power in numbers. Collect petition signatures when you talk with groups, meet people at farmers’ markets or in front of grocery stores, or go to other community gatherings. After collecting petition signatures, call or email the people who signed it and invite them to get involved in the campaign and take action. Send a copy of your petition signatures in to Food & Water Watch, so we can add them to our national total.
Organized groups can help demonstrate a broader base of support because they represent larger numbers of people from diverse perspectives. Brainstorm a list of community or neighborhood groups, such as churches, co-ops, school groups, medical or public health groups and others who likely care about your issue. Reach out and ask for their support, and ask that they send information about your next meeting (or city council hearing) to their email list or Facebook page.
Step 4: Meet with elected officials
In order to pass your resolution, you’ll need a majority of your council members on board.
Identify a sponsor to champion your resolution
The best sponsor for your resolution will be someone who is likely to be a strong supporter and who has good relationships with other members of the council, in order to gain their support. When you meet with the council member, try to bring other constituents and influential members of the community who can help nail down their support. At the end of the meeting, you should have a firm commitment to introduce the resolution (or agree on a follow-up plan if they need time to think about it), and you should get an idea of who you should to reach out to next on the council to make sure you have the votes you need.
Here’s a sample meeting agenda:
- Do a round of introductions to open the meeting.
- Thank the council member for meeting with you and confirm how long they’re available to meet.
- Make your case.
- Make your ask.
- “Will you sponsor this resolution?”
- Thank them again for their time and confirm any follow-up items that were discussed.
Hold meetings with other members
After you have a council member to introduce the resolution, you will want to set up meetings with the other council members to determine how they will vote. Set up meetings in advance by emailing or calling about a week in advance of when you’d like to set up the meeting. Make a direct ask for each council member to support the resolution and get a clear answer. If they ask for more information, provide it for them, and let Food & Water Watch know if you need help answering any questions. If they do not commit to supporting the resolution at your meeting, collect more petition signatures to convince them and set follow-up meetings to secure their support.
Step 5: Hold a hearing on your resolution
It is possible that your resolution will pass right away once it’s introduced. If this happens, that’s great! However, if there is any discussion or debate, most local governments will schedule a hearing and members of the public will have a chance to make a public comment.
You should view a hearing as a good opportunity to educate and mobilize people in your community. You can use the hearing as an opportunity to generate media coverage and drive turnout to the meeting to show support.
Step 6: Follow up
So your resolution passed – congrats! (And if it didn’t pass, don’t give up. Start back at step one to plan out the next phase to overcome any obstacles to getting it passed.)
Send the resolution to Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch is tracking and mapping all the resolutions passed across the country. When yours passes, send us a copy and we’ll post it on our website where other activists can use it as a resource.
Send the resolution to your members of Congress
Your members of Congress need to hear about your resolution to know where their constituents stand on these important issues. Send a copy of your resolution to your Senators and House Representative, and ask for their support at the federal level.
Build your next campaign!
Once you’ve celebrated this victory, think about what you can do next with your group.
Questions? Contact Katy Kiefer, Food & Water Watch Activist Network Manager at 202-683-4939 or [email protected].
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