Why You Should Write a Handwritten Letter to Your Legislator
by Erika Zambello -- November 28th, 2016
If you’re like me, the onslaught of anti-environment rhetoric tossed around the American political arena has got you down. Once again we find ourselves defending the EPA, regulations, greenspace, and so much more. Do you feel like you can’t make a difference? You’re wrong! One of the most effective actions you can take is actually one of the simplest: a handwritten letter.
Yes, a letter. What we all used to write to each other before email and instant messaging and texts, with a stamp and everything. While many millennials think of letters as “old fashioned,” they demonstrate to a senator or congressman/woman how much you, as a constituent, care about an issue. Every letter is read, and its content categorized and summarized for weekly or monthly reports. Though a representative may not read every word of your letter, they are deeply concerned with how their constituents are feeling; after all, we do elect them. According to Outdoor Alliance, “One state staffer told us that her boss, a Senator, calls the state office several times a day just to ask what they are hearing from people who are calling and writing the office.”
Because representatives receive fewer individualized letters (compared to emails, petitions, or form letters), each one that they do receive carries more weight.
I’ve written five letters so far to my national representatives, and am about to start on my local leaders. I wrote when I had a spare few minutes (in the waiting room of an office, while watching television, cooking dinner), and actually found the process quite meaningful.
Have I convinced you? Great! Then here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Only write to your own representatives.
If a senator or congressman/woman doesn’t represent you, your letter gets forwarded to the person who does.
2. Don’t write too often.
You don’t want to come off as a crazy person, but as thoughtful voter, so choose your issues carefully and write when it is most meaningful to you.
3. BE POLITE.
I wrote that in all-caps for a reason. Staffers are reading your letters 99% of the time, and trust me, these people get yelled at on a regular basis. If you want them to truly hear your concerns – and take them to their boss – be courteous.
For a more complete list, click here.
Grab your friends, your colleagues, your family, and have them join you for a letter-writing party. Make it fun, make it informative, and you will truly make a difference!