One summer I arrived home from college to find out my hometown had ended their curbside recycling service. No longer would our Dean’s milk cartons, Diet Coke cans, and #1 and #2 plastics be set in orange bins and emptied twice a month. I was disappointment in my town and believed this was a huge step backward from environmental sustainability. But what could I do?
Thanks to the great communication skills of my neighbors, it didn’t take long to discover that many agreed they were frustrated at the end to recycling. Many even agreed that they would be willing to pay for the service.
This leads me to the next suggestion for summer writing projects: a petition. If you see something you would like to have changed, work to change it by mobilizing communities through a petition. That’s what I did. Instead of sitting around whining, I gathered formalized the neighborhood’s complaint in the form of a petition letter and presented it to someone who could do something about it.
How do you start? Just like any other writing project, think about your audience and purpose. Purpose should be easy if you have something specific you want to propose, something you want to happen. Yet, targeting your audience is just as important. For instance, the website change.org allows you to create an online petition to reach a digital audience. Though, in my recycling program example, an online campaign wasn’t my best bet because I didn’t know how to access only my town via an online platform. My neighborhood didn’t have a facebook page (unlike the ever informative facebook page for Louisville’s Germantown-Schnitzelburg).
I drafted my letter addressed to the town council, a proposal to reinstate the recycling program, printed it out, and physically circulated my neighborhood for signatures. After collecting the signatures, I mailed it off to the town council.
Do I know that my petition made a difference? Honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t receive a response. However, my story does have a happy ending. The recycling program was reinstated and my hometown now has weekly pick ups!
Resources for Petitioning
New York State provides a Citizen’s Guide to Petitioning the local government. This might even be helpful if you aren’t in NY.
Change.org’s How to Write a Petition
Dosomething.org’s tips for writing a petition