Project Development

Step 2: Advocate for Change

Look around.

Outdoor Nation UniversityYou know who they are. Your friends and friends of friends who care about the same issues you do and want to make the world a better place. Your first priority in advocacy is identifying who cares about this issue and is wiling to do what it takes to make change. You might have met them at an Outdoor Nation event or at school or in one of your clubs – really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you don’t do this alone. This is Outdoor NATION and, together, we are a powerful force.

Because, as you know, More Voices = More Action.

Share what you know. Find out what you don’t.

Now that you’ve identified people who are on the same page, it’s time to bring them up-to-speed on both the problem and your solution. But, remember, even Steve Jobs didn’t have all the answers. Ask your burgeoning team about your ideas and beg them for feedback. Nothing will doom an organization more than a leader who isn’t willing to turn the wheel when there are curves in the road. It’s called “founder syndrome” and it’s a no-win situation.

So, share your plans, then ask for feedback. Trust us…working together will make your ideas even better.

Hit the “go” button.

Now, you can’t expect that your plan will never change, but at some point, you’ll have to pull the trigger and get to work. Sitting in your local coffee shop discussing the problem, mulling over the solution, and dreaming about ways you can advocate change won’t get it done. Won’t solve the problem.

Pull out that computer again and put together a simple well-written statement with the following information:

  • Situation (state the problem, who is affected, why it matters)
  • Story (tell the emotional story)
  •  Solution (what needs to change and how you plan to change it?)
  • Call to Action (what do you need from others to make the change?)

Advocating with the big dogs.

No matter what change you’re trying to affect, chances are you’ll run into a local, state or federal representative who will either try to stand in your way – or, fingers crossed – help you get it done. You’ll want to meet with them to get them thinking about your plan.

  • Set up a meeting.
  • Succinctly state the problem, clearly explain your solution and tell them what you need them to do.
  • Be professional, courteous, respectful and realistic.
  • Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

What does success look like?

Every movement needs to have a clear vision of what success looks like and the milestone successes to achieve along the way. Let’s say you want to connect all of the bike paths in your community so that everyone will have access to close-in outdoor recreation. First steps include mapping out current bike paths and seeing where gaps exist. Your long-term vision is that every single path will connect, but success should be celebrated every time one path connects to another. Those are the baby steps, but they are vital to ensuring your success and rewarding your advocates.

Oh, and…don’t forget to celebrate your success.

Additional Resources

Youth Action and Advocacy Planning Guide: Get that project going! Check out steps for action planning.
Nature Conservancy: Want to learn more about advocating? Learn from the pros!

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