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|What You Can Do...|
As a Citizen
Knowledge is the key to successful advocacy. It's not necessary to be a lawyer or scientist to be an effective advocate, but you do need to learn a few basics. The Soundbook has been designed to get you started in learning what the real issues are. The best way to continue to keep in touch with the problems and issues is to join an organization that publishes a newsletter. Most civic and environmental conservation groups make effective use of their newsletters to keep their membership abreast of the latest developments.
In choosing which groups to join, keep in mind where your priorities lie. Some national organizations monitor only broad issues and focus on actions of the federal government, while others have local chapters that are active in a specific area. If you want to influence issues of immediate concern to yourself and your neighbors, make sure you lend your support to a group that is monitoring what happens in your region and community.
Belonging to a local conservation or environmental watchdog organization requires little of your time but is a powerful tool for the Sound. Everyone is busy these days and most people just can't squeeze in any volunteer time. Yet, just belonging to an organization is a serious expression of your concern. By belonging to an area group, you will assure that your concern and hopes for the Sound can be turned into action on the local, state, and federal level.
Most municipalities have various commissions that oversee inland wetlands, harbor management, conservation, development, and town planning. The commissions make decisions and set policy that may well determine the ultimate fate of Long Island Sound. We need people like you, people who care about the Sound and its watershed, to serve on these commissions. They must have members who can see the value of our natural resources beyond exploitation. It's not always easy to get appointed. Usually it's done by the mayor, selectman, or council. The best approach is to first meet with your district's elected representative to discuss serving your community. The next step is to seek letters of support for your effort from other concerned community members. Whether you can serve or not, all of these commission meetings are public and your attendance can mean a great deal in healing the Sound.
Never underestimate your influence on an elected official. A short, handwritten letter - a paragraph or two - can help direct and educate legislators at the local, state and federal level. When writing your letter be sure to demonstrate your understanding of the issue, but don't try to show them how smart you are. Be brief and to the point. Finally, remember that when you call the office of your elected official, whether it's in Washington, Albany, Hartford, or city hall, you are an important person. You're a voter in the district and that office is there to help you.
We will all play a role in determining the future of the Sound. Each of us must decide how much of our time, effort, and funds we can afford to contribute. Helping to preserve the Sound and reverse the degradation of its watershed can be as simple as sending a check, or as involved as volunteering on a regular basis. The Soundbook has described some of the ways that you can make a difference for the Sound and all humanity. Putting the information in your hands is all we can do. Putting it to work is up to you.
Be a Soundkeeper