The Plastic Bag Ban – Political Activism 101

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.  Margaret Mead

This quote came to mind as I was thinking about the recent IOP legislation to ban plastic bags.  This post is NOT about whether this law is a good or bad idea.  I am agnostic on the issue as I can see both sides.  These bags are certainly detrimental to wildlife.  On the other hand, this is using the strong arm of the government to regulate businesses because of the irresponsible actions of a few people.

That being said, my sense is that most of the citizens of the IOP do not have a burning passion about this issue.  I don’t think there was ever an overwhelming tidal wave of people supporting this initiative, at least not in my neighborhood.

And that brings me to this discussion: how to advance your cause and get a law passed dealing with something you are passionate about.  My hat is off to this group of folks who pushed this ban through in record time and got council to approve the ban with unanimous votes.

Here is how you do it:

First, find a small group of people passionate about an issue. Have them regularly write letters to the editor of the local papers so that the letters appear every week.

Then, MOST importantly, come before city council and speak.  And don’t have just one person show up because that does not carry much weight.  Try to get 8-10 people to be there at the beginning of the meeting and speak for several minutes each.  Do this for several months in a row.  Repetition is important because it reinforces your concerns in the mind of city council.

And then the coup de grace: get some children to speak.  Children are innocent and just want what is best.

Let me be clear, this is not a sarcastic or cynical post.  As a political observer I truly admire how they pulled this off.  They were brilliant.

As the great philosopher Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) wrote in his autobiography, “Passion is bullshit. What matters is personal energy.”  He is exactly right.  A lot of folks are passionate about stuff but too lazy to get up and do something.

These folks were able to Git-R-Done, and for that, I salute them.

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