Opinion: Local advocacy is where real change occurs

As individuals, we can often feel powerless to elicit change and advocate for causes effectively.  Without political or financial power, activism can be unnerving for the average person.

The political process through which social change and advocacy can occur is not readily accessible to everyday people. Political and social action requires research, resources, coalition building, and most importantly — time. Political action and social change takes a lot of time as our government system is fragmented into federal and state systems and action is slow-moving.

The average citizen typically lacks the amount of time and sheer will power it takes to stay dedicated to advocating on behalf of a cause or concern. Many of the social problems and concerns — climate change, government corruption and income inequality —  seem like such daunting issues within today’s society.

The complicated nature and massive scale that these issues have makes them seem unsolvable and disheartening. This is because social action on a large or national scale is less concrete and noticeable in our everyday lives. This results in many people feeling powerless in the political process.

That advocacy spirit is often better spent on the local fronts as it allows for people to have tangible results for their efforts and can create meaningful change in a more direct way. Typical avenues of local advocacy could be calling your local representative, attending city council meetings, getting involved in local organizational efforts, and volunteerism and donating to local causes and candidates. These local level efforts are more effective at engaging the public and building community because the issues and advocacy have a direct impact in people’s lives.

Another benefit of local advocacy is that more people are able to realistically get involved due to proximity. It is much easier for a person to plan on attending a local community meeting in their city than to organize advocacy efforts at a national scale, such as a protest. The local scale also ensures that people will have their voices heard and be able to tap into their political power.

Local advocacy is a chance for everyday people to get involved in the political process and lobby for the social change and action they wish to see. As we think of ways we can help our cities, neighbors and world, we must start at the local scale.  

Alyssa Tatro

Alyssa majors in urban studies and community development. She is interested in and concerned about issues in Tacoma that impact the community. She is obsessed with all things chocolate and piggies.