A Fellow’s bragging rights
Go ahead and say it: “You’re a nerd, Becky”
It’s true. I sit in a Washington D.C. office each day where my sole job is to call and email constituents all over the country, encouraging them to participate in lobby meetings with their members of Congress. I have details of legislation memorized, a clock for every US time zone on the wall above my desk, and dozens of Congresspeople’s districts, states, and past action neatly organized in my head – and on GoogleSpreadsheets. So I’ll gladly accept that “nerd” label, because it means I get to work with some truly inspiring activists from coast to coast and beyond (I see you, Hawaii).
My colleagues Eugene and Travis and I have helped to schedule 108 lobby meetings all over the country, and the list keeps growing. We have a stack of letters waiting to be hand-delivered and we’d love for you to add to the pile! We hear about activists who call and email their representatives every day, asking them to cosponsor the bipartisan KONY 2012 resolutions.
And because of those meetings, emails, letters, and calls, 115 members of Congress have already cosponsored the resolutions supporting U.S. efforts to capture LRA commanders and support affected communities.
But beyond seeing these concrete successes, my favorite part of the job is watching lobby meetings take place like a proud parent, collecting stories to hang on my “fridge” (read: wall) and share with friends and family (aka coworkers).
Take for instance Matt Abajian, a high school teacher from Fresno, CA:
“…I felt compelled to do more then just hang a few posters around town. With the public talking about [KONY 2012], it was a desire of mine to rely on the political process to see the talk turn into action. I was nervous signing up to lead two lobby meetings within my area [But] I cannot tell you enough what an amazing experience it was to sit in two representative meetings, being able to share my heart about the issues in central Africa as well as bring others, especially my students, along for the journey.”
Sometimes it’s the staffers who provide the inspiration. That was the case for Lindsey Williams in Denver, CO:
“One really cool moment for me was sitting in the meeting, video conferencing with two staffers from Senator Mark Udall’s Washington DC office, one of whom is from South Sudan and knows intimately about the LRA and their atrocities. He shared some of his story with us, and for me, that served as a reminder that the people I am advocating for DO have a voice and they ARE talking, we just haven’t been too great at listening. I am here to amplify their voices and make them louder so people will start listening, because when we amplify their voices, that elevates them to equals and active participants in solving issues, not just silent recipients of our good will and aid.”
Still a bit nervous about getting involved? First-time lobbyist Danny Porter from Albuquerque, NM has some words of advice after leading two lobby meetings:
“I was stressing myself out more than I should have in the moments before the meeting started, only to find myself incredibly calm once it began. Remember, the Congressmen (and their staffers) are representatives of YOU. They work for the people. So just take a deep breath, shake it off and go in there with confidence, knowing that you’re not alone in this fight and that you’re taking a stand against injustice.”
We’re in this together, and there are still ways you can get involved no matter what your schedule looks like. And hey, it’s my job to answer your questions.
So get in touch. Clearly I love it!
- Becky Dale