Sunday, April 03, 2011

Catching Our Representatives in the Web: A Lenten Carbon Fast Challenge

Today's Lenten Carbon Fast challenge:
"Take action: Find out who your elected representatives are (http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbg/dbq/officials/) and tell them what you're doing to reduce your carbon footprint. Urge them to create and implement strong national and international laws to stop climate chaos. Find out what energy saving or climate change activities are going on in your local area."
This makes a lot of sense. We can and should do all we can, but that includes leveraging our clout by petitioning our elected representatives. There's no need to try to do it all ourselves when we have an existing structure called "government" which is at our service! Government is often frustrating, but it's like any other game - you can't win if you don't play, and you usually get better with practice. So don't worry if the first couple of times it didn't seem like you're getting anywhere; persist and results come, in my experience.

I tried the http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbg/dbq/officials/ link and was pleased to see that, based on zip code, it gave me a full suite of public officials, both state and federal. I went to the website of my Congressman, Jim McDermott. I was going to send a fairly standard message, encouraging sustainability efforts as a means of improving neighborhood resilience; based on my past experience, I know an intern reads them and tallies them into a database which has some small impact on the Congressman's behavior. I also expected to get a reply, and that would be that.
But then I saw on the Congressman's website that he had a Facebook page. This is great - it lets me actually engage is a discussion with Jim and other people. This is much more interesting and satisfying than old fashioned mail and messages, since we can share links and comments. I was delighted to see Jim had posted a short video in which he discussed something, a photo of a sumi-e piece he'd donated to an auction for Japanese relief, and so forth - and even better was the chance to discuss things not just with Jim himself, but also with other people from our district.
The lesson: this can be fun, especially if your representative is up-to-date with his or her web presence! Give it a try and you might enjoy the results!

1 comment:

Small Footprints said...

I resisted facebook for so long but have to say ... I'm finding it very useful. People (like elected officials) who used to be so inaccessible are now interacting with folks on facebook.

Thanks, Rewinn!