The Best Way to Better Your Community

Looking to create change in your community? Here's what to consider to make sure your voice is heard

The Best Way to Better Your CommunityThe secret to any effective campaign — whether your goal is to get a speed hump installed at the end of your street, promote family-friendlier government policy or get mayo packaged in glass bottles — is to launch a multi-pronged approach.

Here’s the formula for making change successfully, whether you’re dealing with municipalities, corporations or big-picture public policies.

1 Contact responsible parties

Write a polite and succinct letter stating the problem and proposing a solution. A letter will be taken most seriously, but email, fax and phone are options. For local issues, contact your city councillor as well as the relevant department (e.g., Parks & Recreation), and for public policy, your member of government. For corporations, skip frontline customer service contacts: Search corporate websites for CEOs and VPs.

2 Enlist the community

Look online for local groups that agitate for your cause, or start your own. Facebook makes organizing easy: Start a group, invite others and use the page to announce events and provide updates. Stick with an action committee of three people or so to maximize accountability and keep concrete tasks moving (drafting a letter template that people
can forward to stakeholders, etc.).

3 Get publicity

Nothing raises awareness or motivates the public or elected officials more than press. Go to your local TV, radio and newspaper outlets’ websites and search “news tips” or “tip line” for contacts, then alert them to the problem and action about to happen, whether it’s a demonstration or the delivery of a box of petitions to your local official so that she can bring them to Parliament. Include full contact info for one or two spokespeople, and keep that BlackBerry on.

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