How to Have a Successful Grassroots Campaign

Successful campaigns usually begin with a single politically non-active person who looks at a wetland fill, mining proposal, logging plan, or condo development and says to herself: "They shouldn't be doing that in this place; I wonder if there is anything I can do to stop it?"

Right now in the United States there are still sufficient laws and regulations to stop or delay most environmental outrages—if you want to bad enough, begin early and act effectively. Even when the fix is in, most environmental outrages must go through administrative process, and at some point most bad schemes are vulnerable.

Factors That Will Make or Break Your Campaign

All successful environmental campaigns resemble one another,
unsuccessful ones all fail in their own way.

  1. Know who owns the land and the steps in all the permitting processes. Understand the time lines and deadlines for every step.

  2. Get local folks interested in the issue; engage and use their individual and unique talents.

  3. Make sure your organization is united about what to do next, and who is your spokesperson.

  4. Know how to lobby public officials; when to use written communications as opposed to visits, email and faxes.

  5. Get the community to turn out for public meetings and be sure they know what to do, and not do, once there.

  6. Thoroughly prepare any written or oral presentations to public bodies.

  7. Get the right professional and technical help, like attorneys and geologists, but make sure you don't lose control over your issue to them.

  8. Raise enough money and obtain grants if you need them. If you will be securing grants, file for non-profit status or find an umbrella organization to handle your grants.

  9. If you are forming a new organization, create an effective board.

  10. If you will be doing formal sit down meetings and negotiations with professionals more skillful than yourself, prepare thoroughly.

  11. Know your legal rights to information and how to exercise them so agencies can't stonewall you.

  12. Make sure you do not subsequently lose any victories you initially win.

Top of Page

©2000 Jim Britell
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission.

Home | Consulting Services | Biography | Index of Writings | jim@britell.com