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New Year's Resolutions: A Letter a Week Campaign

by Worldchanging New York local blogger, Ben Jervey

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I've never been one for resolutions. So I was somewhat hesitant when recently pressed by both the hosts of the Ecotalk radio show and WorldChanging NYC to offer one publicly.

Sure, swearing off disposable grocery bags and coffee cups would be a nice thought. Or, maybe 2007 should be the year to finally commit fully to the 100-mile diet -- eating only foods produced within 100 miles of where I live. Make all trips under 20 miles by bicycle, perhaps?

Great and noble acts all, but somehow they feel too finite in the face of massive issues like climate change.

So if 2006 was indeed the year (as has been boasted repeatedly) that the "green is the new black" lifestyle became vogue, then 2007 needs to be the year that energy and environmental issues move beyond the personal -- the home and the body -- and earnestly into the policy arena.

Now, if you're at all like me, then much of your political activism has involved signing ubiquitous online petitions and placing many an orchestrated call to congressional phone flacks. Anonymous and generic, neither action feels like it carries much weight.

Thus my New Year's Resolution for 2007: to write, every week, a personal letter to a politician emphasizing the importance of real political action at this crucial moment in history. A letter a week. To local New York City council members and to Mayor Mike, the focus will be on more immediate and local issues (congestion pricing, anyone?). To the national reps, I'll insist that climate change be an integral concern of any energy, economic, or transportation-based legislature. When there does happen to be a timely issue or vote before some political body, I'll be sure to make my stance as a constituent very clear to my elected official.

Now maybe that old-fashioned letter won't get any further than the desk of the same staffer who politely answers my calls or likely deletes the barrage of MoveOn or Environmental Defense e-petitions. But something about the personally signed letter feels more formidable -- like something that might actually register.

One letter, every week. And hopefully 2007 will be the year that those policymakers figure out that voters are serious about energy and the environment.

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I agree that letter writing is important. Carries more weight than emails or petitions. Don't protest that it uses paper - so does going to the toilet. If everyone who attended a feel-good rally instead penned and posted a letter (a socially invisible action)...

Posted by: Jelly on 6 Jan 07

It would be interesting to (loosely) co-ordinate a WCg letter writing action on WCg topics. (There probably already exists a website to watch such activities.) A number of people in different parts of the world could write letters on similar issues and quickly give their updates on the responses they get ... might stimulate others to do the same... and ... who knows?

If you wanted, each week you could do a brief post on the response to any previous letter and indicate the topic on which you'll write and send a letter the following week (to give time for others to write a letter on similar topic at similar time to their local authority). You could do a monthly summary but weekly might remind others to write a letter as well. Or commenters could suggest topics to write in on.

Posted by: Jelly on 6 Jan 07

Ben & Jelly,
If you're intersted in such a system to track letter-writing, we can make time to get it together.

Otherwise, Ben, I'd love to know the topics you're writing on and to whom they're being sent. If I agree with your take, I'd be more than happy and hand-write one a week.

Posted by: Randy J. Hunt on 7 Jan 07



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