Our time may be our most valuable resource. When we volunteer to work on an issue, we make a strong statement about the value we place on that issue. Elected officials are more likely to act when they see voter commitment to an issue, and citizen participation encourages government staff to look at how they’re doing business.
Find Your Passion
Volunteering starts by finding your passion, which is where your story connects with the issue. Climate change impacts so many aspects of life that there are numerous ways for your story to intersect with it. Here are some ideas on climate topics that might intersect with your story.
Discover What’s Already Being Done
Talk with government staff and learn what your community is already doing related to your topic. It may take a few phone calls to find the right person, and some topics may be split into several departments. Here are some suggestions of who to call in your community:
- Air quality: environmental or public health department
- Transportation: (1) public works, planning, traffic, or transportation department for planning; (2) transit for public transportation; and (3) fleet management for purchases of city vehicles and fuel
- Renewable energy: facilities or utilities department
- Community resiliency: sustainability or resiliency office
- Water resources: public works, utilities, water, or planning department
Enter into Dialogue
The Talanoa Dialogue is being used by the world to find solutions to climate change and is a useful concept for guiding conversation with government staff.
“Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. Blaming others and making critical observations are inconsistent with building mutual trust and respect, and therefore inconsistent with the Talanoa concept. Talanoa fosters stability and inclusiveness in dialogue, by creating a safe space that embraces mutual respect for a platform for decision making for a greater good.”
The dialogue is structured around three guiding questions:
- Where are we?
- Where do we want to go?
- How do we get there?
Volunteering adds a fourth question: How can I help?
Visit with government staff who are working on your climate topic. After learning what your community is already doing, tell your story. Discuss why the topic is important to you and where you’d like the community to go on it. Then, ask what is needed to get there and how you can help. The answer may be serving on a board or stakeholder committee, participating in a public meeting, rallying public support, speaking at a city council meeting or public hearing, helping government officials with research or information, or reviewing and commenting on draft plans prepared by the city.
COIPL is here to help you. Contact us if you have questions about climate change topics or volunteering on climate change initiatives in your community.