Seven Ways to Continue Momentum on Equity through Politics and Community Engagement
By Drew Allen, AIA | Project Architect, AECOM | Chair, Editorial Committee
It’s difficult to put into words how tumultuous this year has been so far.
From a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 120,000 people in America alone to a massive economic downturn to the continued racial injustices in our country, tensions reached a boiling point with the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among so many others.
Ordinary citizens who have never been active politically are taking to the streets in droves to demand change, and our society appears to be at a point of reckoning. Moreover, 2020 happens to be an election year, which provides an opportunity to turn this moment in time into a movement.
However, if history repeats itself, many will be engaged just for a few weeks rather than the needed months, or even years, to translate that engagement into political change. In an attempt to keep the conversation and momentum moving forward, below are a few ways to carry the emotion and passion of the last few weeks—via politics and community engagement—into November and beyond.
This should go without saying. Marches, educating oneself and others on issues, engaging on social media, and supporting Black businesses only go so far if voter engagement remains as low as it has in the past. If you need to register to vote, you can do so here.
Know your state and local legislators.
It’s often as simple as typing “who are my state legislators” or “who is my city council representative” into a search engine. Learn about the issues they care about on their websites and sign up for their newsletters. Colorado residents, use the Find my Legislator website to easily find your state senator and representatives.
Meet and engage with your local representation.
State legislators and city council members love to take time to meet the people that they serve. You will find that they are usually very approachable and personable, even if that’s because they want your vote. They are easy to talk to and want to hear from you. So, reach out to them via email or phone (which you can find on their websites) and let them know what’s important to you and that you’d like to meet them. If you’d like to meet with your legislators and need some pointers on what to say or how to start the conversation, reach out to AIA Colorado Advocacy Engagement Director Nikolaus Remus, AIA.
Volunteer in your community.
Whether it’s through the various volunteer opportunities at AIA Colorado, campaigns for candidates or causes that you care about, or local community organizations, giving your time to a cause is incredibly important and makes a real difference.
Donate to causes.
While money in politics is beyond a controversial subject, it plays a vital role in our system. For those able, donate to causes that represent your values. AIA and AIA Colorado both make contributions to candidates that further our values and represent our network of political allies, both at the state and national levels. If you have the means, please donate to either Architects of Colorado Political Committee or AIA National via ArchiPAC. You can also donate to more community based organizations that focus on grassroots engagement, such as Black Futures Lab or The Movement for Black Lives, both of which focus on organizing Black communities into political force.
Political eyes are on these marches and legislators are listening, at least in some areas. For example, in Colorado a police reform bill was introduced and signed into law in just 16 days and can be directly attributed to the outpouring of public demands in the streets around the world. While it’s important to realize personal limitations and to not burn out, it’s also important to know that these efforts are not in vain.
Stay engaged on social media.
While this may seem like a copout, it’s still important to keep the conversation going. Whatever policy initiatives are important to you, from police reform to healthcare to climate change, it is important to constantly remind people that issues persist long after the marches end. While social media is by no means the only action that should be taken, it’s still an important avenue to spread awareness.
These ideas are in no way meant to be fully comprehensive. For actions you can take within your firms, stay tuned for more content from the AIA Colorado Editorial and Equity, Diversity and Inclusiveness Committees. Many will find their owns ways to stay engaged and to translate that focus the last month into future political action. While our system of voting in this country is far from perfect, it is one of our most tangible options to affect change.
If you have further ideas on involvement or would like more information on how to engage with your political leaders, please reach out to AIA Colorado Advocacy Engagement Director Nikolaus Remus, AIA.