One more piece of capitol advice

Our state lawmakers will be hard at work one week from today as the session starts on February 12. My […]

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Our state lawmakers will be hard at work one week from today as the session starts on February 12. My past posts have provided some advice, which I hope some readers found to be helpful. Many of you are old hands at crafting bills, lobbying and getting a message out. I do not worry about you.

My intent is to provide some tips for newcomers. A terrific church friend, who left us a few years ago, always urged us to train our replacements. I think that is also true in the disability community. I have too many advocate friends who’ve been burned out due to constant demands on their time.

I also think that it’s too easy for legislator and lobbyists to tune out the same few people. That’s frustrating for folks who have worked hard for decades on our issues. But an issue needs to be seen in a broader context and that almost always means bring in more folks to be involved. It cannot be just “Jane’s issue.”

(And I am not using the term “self-advocate” as much these days. Of course we can all advocate for ourselves, whether we speak, work with others on message or just have a presence.)

While we at Access Press don’t “do” advocacy beyond our monthly print editorial, we’re glad to draw on decades of experience and give you some tip on what we have observed. We hope the tips provide a better session experience.

Rallies are events I sometimes struggle with due to arthritis and Meniere’s disease. I respect that they are important and we must cover them. They draw attention to important issues.

A well-organized rally is amazing to see and for people to take part in.

But the noise and the crowds are hard for me and for others. It’s even harder when a rally is not well organized. Our big multi-group rally days typically come off without a hitch.

Organizing is hard because of participants’ disabilities. Seating is hard because if I am up front, all of the shouting can give me a severe headache and knock me out for the rest of the day. I’ll be frank: one rally years ago devolved into random screaming. I had to rely on someone else for a ride home, my headache was so bad.

Rallies get crowded and people need to be aware of their space and the space of others. It’s all too easy to bump into someone and at some of our ages, a broken hip is a death sentence.

Be aware of your space and your space needs. Don’t crowd others if possible and don’t let others crowd you.

If you wave a sign, please don’t hit someone in the head. That’s happened to me. And dealing with a scalp cut is no fun.

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