In October 2012, I led a team of students from the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment as we sought new resources and opportunities to bring resolution to several major issues affecting the municipal drinking water sources of Greater Birmingham. After multiple meetings with key legislators representing the area, we developed the “Campaign for the Greater Birmingham Drinking Water Commission”, our organization’s (and my own’s) first foray into the Alabama political arena.
It quickly became apparent that we all had a lot to learn if our campaign was to be successful. So, after writing the legislation ourselves, I then took the initiative to set meetings between our team and all agencies that would become a part of our new Commission. From December- January, we met with representatives from each state institution listed, and incorporated their edits before officially introducing our legislation into the 2013 Alabama Legislative Session.
For my personal role, I ensured that CASE had the funds to provide transportation twice a week for our members to actively lobby our elected officials for their support on this issue, in addition to my steady role as Public Relations Director, drafting press releases/advisories as needed. I also created all informational handouts needed, such as this one.
From February 1 – current, I dedicated 12 hours per week to actively lobbying in the Legislature, to ensure that our legislation got the bi-partisan support that it would need to pass. Currently, House Joint Resolution 191/Senate Joint Resolution 79 is supported by a consortium Republican Democratic leadership, in and outside of the Greater Birmingham area.
I coordinated digital and personal outreach to diverse representatives of Alabama industrial, educational, environmental, public health, and advocacy communities to ensure the grassroots support we would need to win. My greatest success was in connecting to Indian Springs School, and CASE concerns to become a realistic focal point of an 8-week program designed to allow ISS students to create water policy recommendations for the State of Alabama. These videos lend the best explanation of my work with ISS:
I also served as the lead coordinator of our April 9th “Power Day”, an all-day press conference/lobbying event that brought in over 75 students from our 8 university coalition partners from across the state. You can find more information about my role in that event here, and how I helped create an environment where our students felt comfortable participating in the legislative process, many for the first time in their lives!
*This post will be updated as the legislative session reaches its close this May. For more information on how you can support the work of the students of Alabama, please seek out “CASE: The Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment” via Facebook, and stay alert for our upcoming email outreach tactic.