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Tips for Young Activists

When Nice-Nice Doesn't Work

Okay, you've tried quiet diplomacy, petitions, and letter writing, and nothing has worked. Now what?

You've got a couple of options: You could wait until the next election and work to get the problem official(s) replaced with more enlightened candidates, or you can take the more direct approach -- show up at public meetings and make your presence known.

Most public bodies work without an audience, and that's the way they like it. Five, 10, or 15 people sitting quietly in the back of the room will definitely be noticed.

Whenever possible, try to get an appointment to address the committee or board. They may grant it or they may not -- it's their choice.

After a few weeks of "silent witness," there's an excellent chance they'll give you what you want just to make you go away.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Don't allow yourself to get distracted from your mission. There are two points to keep in mind as you go about working for your cause:

  • First: Persistence and focus pays off -- especially over the long haul. Most officials who are trying to resist change do so by playing the waiting game. They know if they stall long enough you'll go away and they've "won."

  • Second: Most officials are good people (whether or not they agree with you) and most share a natural human desire to take the path of least resistance. If you can demonstrate by persistence and determination that they have more to gain by granting your request than fighting it, then you and your cause will win.

Good luck!

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