In my opinion, no progressive organization has been more effective in lobbying Congress than the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Since 2015, FCNL has launched dozens of Advocacy Teams nationwide -- and trainer Emily Savin will bring the workshop to Pasadena from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 16, at the Orange Grove Friends Meeting House, 520 E. Orange Grove Ave. She will teach advocacy skills and help to organize local teams to lobby members of Congress and the media. The initiative for 2017 is reducing Pentagon spending.
Unless I have to work on the 16th, I will be there. Even if I don't decide to join an Advocacy Team, I'll undoubtedly learn some valuable lessons about lobbying, thanks to FCNL and its 70 year history.
At least 20 people participated in the Advocacy Team workshop in Pasadena on Saturday, coming from Tujunga, Montrose and La Canada, from Pasadena across the San Gabriel Valley to Claremont, and south to Boyle Heights. Montrose Peace Vigil regulars Roberta, Anni, John and I were among them.
Emily Savin, the excellent trainer from the Friends Committee on National Legislation's D.C. office, led an active listening exercise in which we paired off to trade our stories and listen so that we could repeat them, something that Anni and I did at the direction of Bernard Lafayette Jr. during his nonviolent resistance training here in 2009. We also learned the key elements of writing an effective letter to a legislator, then put them into practice by drafting individual letters at our tables, asking one senator or the other to halt Pentagon spending increases. These listening and pitching skills will be employed in having meetings and building relationships with the staffs of our various representatives and senators about the issue.
Just about everybody signed up to organize a Pasadena Advocacy Team, with the support of the FCNL. We'll meet for four more one-hour training sessions with Emily on speakerphone, followed by half-hour discussions, starting on Monday, October 2. Attendance at the workshop is not a prerequisite to the training sessions, and nobody has to commit to every one of those to participate in the lobbying to come. Subgroups of the Pasadena team will address their House members -- I counted constituents of Chu, Schiff, Torres and Roybal-Allard in the room. And all of us will engage with Feinstein and Harris staffers at their L.A. offices.
Stay tuned to the Montrose Peace Vigil message board for further developments.
I've been searching for eight weeks for something solid to post about this Advocacy Team. Here it is: I'm bowing out for the foreseeable future.
I missed the first training session on October 6 because of work. Those attending set the second session for a Friday during Montrose Peace Vigil, which I don't miss for any reason. But the written materials and recordings of the meetings were available online, so I was prepared for the third session on November 6. The six of us there scheduled the final training for the 15th. Since then, someone who was absent unilaterally rescheduled the fourth session for November 30 via e-mail.
I had been looking forward to that training on the 15th because a woman on the team had set up a meeting at Rep. Adam Schiff's office with a district staffer on the 21st. Now I won't get the full benefit of this valuable training in time to use it.
So far, three of the five people who say they're going to Schiff's office are not his constituents. Also, I've learned that there is another FCNL Advocacy Team in Los Angeles that has been lobbying Schiff on the same issue.
I've already spent more time keeping up with the e-mail blasts from the Pasadena team and the FCNL national staff than I have doing anything productive for the past two months. I'm grateful for FCNL's program, so I will apply its lessons with other constituents. Look for another thread on the Montrose Peace Vigil message board about lobbying Rep. Schiff for peace.