Getting organized, getting the facts, and making a plan are the first steps towards effective community action. There is an unspoken assumption in all this, however, and that assumption is that the group of people that assembles to try to affect public policy is actually willing and able to spend the amount of time necessary to do what needs to be done. One of the reasons that more people don’t get involved in community action is that it does take a lot of time.
“Time management” is a necessary component in any serious plan to achieve a public policy objective. One technique I use, with the groups with which I work, is to establish a regular meeting time (often a conference call meeting time), with each such meeting following a “standard agenda.” The group has a plan, so it knows what it wants to accomplish, and it knows the various activities that the group will need to carry out to get to the goal. If the standard agenda outlines the different activities that need to be accomplished, and if the group meets regularly, and goes over and discusses each one of those activities, setting out specific tasks, and checking off the tasks completed, it is surprising how much even a fairly small group can get done.
By the way, a group of between five and fifteen people is perfect for getting seriously engaged in affecting public policy. Get together with your friends; get the facts; make a plan, and manage your time. Something positive usually gets accomplished.
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