Taco ‘Bout It: Open Letter For Change

By Taco Olmstead

Photo: Getty – Mladen Antonov/AFP

I’m not going to lie, I broke down in tears today after reading some things and witnessing some things going on in our world today. I was in tears while editing this, not because it is so terribly sad, but because the need for action is so terribly apparent.

Never before have I felt a song to be more fitting and more poignant for today than “For what it’s worth” by Buffalo Springfield:

Here’s the lyrics:

There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

What a field-day for the heat

A thousand people in the street

Singing songs and carrying signs

Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, now, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, children, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

I wanted to include this thought in this Taco ’bout it in order to shed light on what we are facing today. I want you, the reader, to feel the sense of urgency necessary to create the change we do desperately need right now.

The election came and went and unlike the six previous elections I’ve voted in, this election has decidedly left an overwhelming impact on the psyche of a large portion of the entire world. I love having a front row seat while history is in the making but in this instance, I am so deeply saddened by how hurtful the fallout has been. There are two sides deeply divided in the conclusion of this election and only a few brave souls wading through the middle seeking to unite us all. Unity moving forward will be no easy task.

So why am I talking about this? Why am I wading into the political rather than a philosophical pontification of the positive? I am choosing to give my input because hand wringing and worry accomplish nothing and my goal has always been to inspire action. I cannot change the world by simply giving you a hug, I need to give you a hug that makes you want to change the world.

I have spent years immersed in the political processes that affect fresh water resources. I have been defeated more than I have succeeded, cried more than I have smiled and ultimately lost more than I have gained. It is the sullen life of many a river keeper and the only happiness gathered from their lives is knowing that they took a stand when no one else would. There is a deep satisfaction in leading the charge, even when there seems to be no army behind you, because doing the right thing is more often than not, an unpopular action.

How do you affect the policies of our nation? How do you fight to protect your areas natural resources? How do you stand up for the liberties of the oppressed? How do you defeat the tyrants? How do you accomplish this without violent revolution? The pen is mightier than the sword and I have a sharp tongue!

KEEP IT BRIEF

— Keep letters to one page. Try to discuss only one bill or issue in a letter.

IDENTIFY YOURSELF

— Begin with an introduction of yourself or the organization on whose behalf you are writing. Use a simple statement, such as “I am a third-grade teacher at _______ elementary school” or “On behalf of the members of the ________….”

GET TO THE POINT

— Follow your introduction with a brief statement of your issue or concern, such as “We urge your support for H.R. _____, which will ________.” If you are writing in reference to a specific bill, include the bill number. Follow your opening paragraph with a concise explanation of why you support or oppose the particular bill or issue. A few strong, well-thought-out arguments are much more effective than a laundry list of reasons to support or oppose a bill. Whenever possible, use bullet points to outline your arguments.

RELATE IT TO HOME

— Help the legislator understand why your position is important to his or her constituents. Include specific facts about how a bill will impact you, your family and friends, in the legislator’s district. If possible, include a local anecdote illustrating the problem you are seeking to address. Avoid the use of form letters or generic postcards — use your own knowledge and experience to inform the legislator.

ALLOW FOR FOLLOW-UP

— Include specific contact information and offer to act as a resource should the legislator or staff have questions or need additional information. Where appropriate, state in the letter that you will follow up with a telephone call.

Address your letter correctly

Addressing Written Correspondence:

UNITED STATES SENATORS

The Honorable (full name)

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (last name)

FOR MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The Honorable (full name)

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (last name)

 

So your letters, and I say letters because you will have to write hundreds of letters, should look something like this:

 

Date

The Honorable________________

The State Senate (or House of Representatives)

State Capitol

City, State 55555

Dear Senator (or Representative)____________:

(Identify yourself, and mention you are a constituent, if you are one.  Identify the issue/bill you are concerned about.  Add any reason(s) you may have for a special interest in the issue/bill, such as how many people are impacted by the issue.)

Example Paragraph:

I am writing you today as my senator (or representative) because I am especially interested in efforts to provide more affordable housing for low-income people in our state.  I feel that it is very important for all families to have safe housing they can afford.  It is very difficult for families who earn at or even above minimum wage to be able to afford adequate housing.

(Try to be specific about what you would like the legislator to do.  Refer to or include information about specific bills or legislation if you know about it.)

Example Paragraph:

I would ask that you support efforts to increase funding for affordable housing projects in your state. When bills are introduced during this session, I will try to be more specific about legislation that I would urge you to support.

(Thank the legislator for her/his time and interest.)

Example Paragraph:

Thank you very much for your time and any efforts you take to increase affordable housing in our state.

Sincerely,

(Include your name and address)

Taco Olmstead
Street Address
City, State Zipcode

You can significantly affect your legislators by writing a letter to each of them every week. People do not write letters, they occasionally send emails, sign petitions and make phone calls but the impact of a hand written letter is far greater. Pick one night a week, rally your friends to join you, have a letter writing party and send them out! This is how you use the system against itself!

So how do you find your legislators? How do you find their addresses and contact them? It’s easy and I’ll even tell you where to find all the information.

You can go here:

http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

Or here:

https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

I’m sure the next question you may be thinking is “how do I know what is happening?” What bills are being passed etc? Get in touch with your local environmental groups, civil rights groups and political groups. We use Internet and social media all of the time for entertainment but it can be used for so much more! Google that shit! It really is that easy!

Let’s no longer sit and wait for this world to change. The time has come for us to follow our dreams and act upon them. I dream of a better world where we are all engaged in the process of creating a better future for all. Won’t you take my hand and grab your pen and do this with me today? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Facebook Comments

Post a comment