Advocacy - Continued
Developing A Campaign for Change
The easiest and quickest way to get your organization off the ground is to develop a good campaign for change. This campaign should be small at first – designed to achieve a quick and visible win for your organization. As your organization grows, so can the numbers and complexity of campaigns. This first campaign will serve as the starting point for your organization. It will become the rallying point around which you’ll be able to build support and credibility. This is where things will start to get specific. Think about all of those things that irritate you, or wish your city would install or fix. Got a list of them? Write them down and use the following questions to help you determine which would be a good starting campaign: Does your campaign benefit many as opposed to just a few? Example: Putting up “Share the Road” signs along a busy corridor will benefit many, whereas having a shower put in at your place of work will most likely benefit just a few.
Does your campaign represent an immediate need for change? Example: Sewer grates built in to the road gutter along a stretch of road frequently used by bicyclists have wide, parallel openings making it easy for cyclists to get their wheels caught in. Perhaps there are a large number of potholes along a route that are continually causing pinch-flats or create hazardous conditions?
Is your campaign “winnable” within a relatively short time frame? Example: Putting bike parking in front of a local library is more likely to be winnable in a short time frame as opposed to building a bike and pedestrian trail along a 50-mile stretch.
Is your campaign one that lends itself well to the media and/or has a human-interest component to it? Example: Little Johnny used to cross an unrestricted freeway on or off-ramp, but now with a new stop light in place his trip is a lot safer.
Resources and Campaign Templates
The Thunderhead Alliance (www.thunderheadalliance.org) is the national coalition of local and state bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups whose job it is to strengthen existing and create new advocacy organizations. Thunderhead has been around for 10 years, and is composed of approximately 130 member organizations in 49 of 50 states, as well as some Canadian provinces. The beauty of Thunderhead is that is has the collected knowledge and experience of all of its member organizations. You’ll find lots of good, free, downloadable templates and worksheets in the Resources Library and Member Services (http://thunderheadalliance.org/site/index.php/members) area of their website.
In the Next Issue
The next installment of this series will deal with setting up a formal structure to your organization as well as some tools for better understanding your local transportation agencies.