Monday, August 18, 2014

How to influence change in your community

Founder of Citizen University in Seattle, Eric Liu recently gave a TED Talk about the importance of every-day individuals actively participating in local decision making.

This is an important topic for those of us advocating for public policy that supports healthy youth development.  To have our voices heard by decision makers, Mr. Liu advises citizens to use the following five skills:

1. Understand the system: Determine how decisions are made in your community and who makes them.  Who most influences those bodies?  What do you need to do to gain more power to influence decisions?

2. Identify your objective: What specifically do you want to change?

3. Sharpen your sense of strategy: Organize people by using social media or other communication tools.  Build alliances with others concerned about substance abuse prevention and healthy youth development.  

4.  Tell a story: Offer a story that people can relate to and share the solution you envision.  Here in King County, the most meaningful testimony for the adoption of a medicine return program came from parents of children who struggled with addiction to pain medications and whose children overdosed and died.

5. Practice: The more you advocate for policies that promote healthy and safe environments for children, the better you will become at it.  Learn from successes and challenges and share what you know.

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