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Learning How to Lobby With Citizens’ Climate Lobby Workshop

by Hannah Pho

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, the Environmental Sustainability class had the opportunity to participate in a Climate Advocacy training workshop over Zoom with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The instructor of this class, Dr. Allyson Degrassi, invited all interested students to join the workshop.

The workshop was led by Brett Cease and Steffanie Munguía. Brett Cease, Citizens’ Climate Lobby education and engagement director, has volunteered with Citizens’ Climate Lobby for around a decade and has been on staff for five years. Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit climate change advocacy organization focused on national policies to address the climate movement. Cease explained why he is excited to be a part of the climate movement.

“The lift is still out there,” Cease said, “to make sure that we pass strong, effective, and durable climate policy for all of our futures.”

Munguía, who joined Citizens’ Climate Lobby last fall, is Citizens’ Climate Lobby student engagement manager. She is also currently a graduate student engaging in climate and environmental topics.

This training was focused on lobbying and how college students can prepare for lobby meetings. “Lobbying is the most highly leveraged activity we can do, to work directly with our members of Congress to move them,” Cease said.

Munguía explained how to prepare for a lobby meeting and what students should do to get the best outcome. Lobby meetings are a group of people talking to members of Congress. Munguía told attendees that before a lobby meeting starts, members need to research the Congress members that the lobbyists are meeting with. Munguía said to research questions such as, what is a Congress member proud of, and what have they accomplished? Munguía also said a follow-up with the member of Congress should be planned ahead of time. 

Munguía explains that roles should be assigned, but the roles are suggestions, they can change and a person could do something that is not within their role in a meeting. One person may have multiple roles, and everyone participates in the discussion. The roles presented in a lobby meeting should include the following: an appreciator who greets the member of Congress and thanks them for their time; a time monitor who makes sure the meeting does not go over time; a notetaker who takes notes or meeting minutes to share at the conclusion of the meeting; an asker, who presents the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s purpose and leaves the one-page ask behind; a deliverer who sends follow-up meeting materials and a thank you card after the meeting is completed; and technology support who helps with any technology needed when presenting to the Congress member. Some lobby meetings also have an observer who listens for any underlying needs and finds the opportunity to clarify the Congress member’s understanding and a photographer who takes pictures throughout the meeting and gets permission to share them online once the meeting is completed.

Munguía explained the outline of a basic lobby meeting. In the beginning of the meeting, the lobbyists will express their gratitude for the Congress member taking time to talk to them, ask how much time the Congress member has to talk, introduce themselves, state the purpose of why they want to talk to the Congress member, and start asking the Congress member questions. In the middle of the meeting, the lobbyists will have an open discussion with the Congress member, listen to what they have to say, and move them to the next steps. At the end of the meeting, the lobbyists will ask for support, follow-up, ask who they will work with, and end with gratitude.

Mugunía and Cease then went into breakout rooms with students for a question-and-answer session and a mock meeting process. The students had to prepare for the meeting, hold the meeting, and debrief after the meeting ended. Mugunía and Cease helped the students navigate the meeting preparation and acted as the Congress members in the mock meeting.

To learn more about Citizens’ Climate Lobby visit www.citizensclimatelobby.org.

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