You don’t need to have experience to fight effectively. You just need to put forth the effort and be deliberate in your approach.
Many citizens without any experience have become remarkable leaders as a result of opposing predatory gambling in their community.
1. Get Informed
4 methods for getting good information:
- Read the fact sheets, FAQs, reports and other information on Stop Predatory Gambling’s website, especially in our Resource Center.
- Gather data for your area. Search online. Get public records from state and local government agencies. Go to the library to get help in gathering data and information.
- Connect with staff at Stop Predatory Gambling for advice on gathering data and information.
- When possible, conduct an opinion poll. Often you can connect with other area organizations using a pollster and then request to add a question or two to their survey. (The cost for one question is often reasonable.)
7 steps to get a petition off the ground
1. Write specific language for the petition that addresses the proposal.
2. Hold regular (weekly) petition organizing meetings open to all.
3. Continually gather community-based support. Faith-based organizations, businesses schools, nonprofits, community organizations, authors, artists, etc.
4. Hold a rally (or many). Invite politicians and other effective speakers. Ask all who attend to take four specific actions: sign the petition; come to the next demonstration; organize their friends; and come to the next community organizing meeting.
5. Once you have media attention, invite people to specific places to sign the petition (online or on the ground).
6. March, sit in and demonstrate. Find creative ways to exercise First Amendment rights to assembly.
7. Ask for a public hearing. Ensure the purpose, venue, time, and process are clear and that there is an experienced facilitator
3. Get the Word Out With Great Media
Go to Stop Predatory Gambling’s Get the Word Out page.
4. Start a Local or State Group
Go to Stop Predatory Gambling’s Start a Local Group page
5. Win A Politician To Champion Your Cause
5 steps to winning a politician champion:
- Have a clear message & plan, and broadcast it.
- Go to public hearings and speak about your issue
- Volunteer & donate to their campaign– and only theirs (focus your efforts).
- Organize with other citizen activists.
- Push other politicians to join your champion in support, especially when they are running for office.
- Once you win your champion: offer them a leadership role and give them credit for wins (as long as they are committed to the cause)
Some words of caution on winning a politician champion:
- Always get a specific commitment each time you meet.
- Bring the draft proposal or legislation with you (in addition to providing it in advance of your meeting.)
- If they need time to review, review the proposal with them or ask to another appointment to review together.
- Do not settle for a statement of support. Ask them to sponsor, second, or co-sponsor.
- If they refuse to meet with you or to negotiate, picket or protest them to get their attention.
Thanks to “Becoming a Citizen Activist,” a book by Nick Lacata.