Learning About Legislative Advocacy: A Look at Portland State University’s Workshops on Social Change (by Guest Blogger Zach Lubek)

Zach1Portland State is offering workshops on Social Change that are free to the public, interactive, and very informative. See this link for the full schedule of workshops.

https://www.facebook.com/UNSTatPSU/events.

The workshop I just attended on Legislative Advocacy was facilitated by Barbara Dudley; It and gave a nuts and bolts approach on ways to engage in the legislative process. Discussion ranged from how to get to know and engage with state legislators, to what the various steps of the legislative process look like, and tactical decisions that must go into legislative decision making. Because I think they are worth mentioning, the for basic tactics to keep in mind when attempting to implement a policy are; draft your own legislation, pay close attention to deadlines, make a splash (through use of grassroots organizing), and know your opponents.

The greatest take away from this experience was learning that getting to know members of the state legislature is far easier than some might assume. Not only can you set up individual meetings with them, but also they often hold gatherings at local coffee shops or places where people can come and chat with them about state specific issues of concern. This learning ties in wonderfully with the idea of ‘Civic Communication.’ Having discussions with legislators as well as other community members helps us to “effectively express, listen, and adapt to others to establish relationships to further civic action.” I think this translates into how we interact in the classroom especially, helping to extend the knowledge of those around us through differing experiences. As we engage in discussion in the classroom about our community partner sites, I think drawing connections between our individual experiences will become increasingly important.

zach2My experience at Parkrose High School has, and will continue to allow me to observe areas of students education that appear to be failing, and further address concerns that already exist. I think the workshop puts great emphasis on civic action. Using these considerations when looking at issues of education can be a great step toward addressing issues that are of steady concern. While I may not be the one who seeks to change legislation, I will have a more grounded knowledge of the necessary steps to help provide information to others who are actively seeking to make a change through a policy stantpoint.

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