By Bill Pivetz
In A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Campaigns, there is a chapter “Saving a Swamp and Landmark Campaigns.” The chapter focuses on campaigns that saved the Great Swamp, Farny Highlands and Sterling Forest, all areas in New Jersey and partly in New York, important to animals and the surrounding towns.
These projects weren’t completed with ease. These campaigns were accomplished by committed people with a goal in mind and the dedication to raise the money necessary to save these specific landmarks. Helen Fenske, a housewife who lived on the edge of the swamp, ran the campaign out of her kitchen. She had a group of people with her who put the word out and made sure the citizens who live in the area saw their flyers, posters and whatnot. “An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people saw the exhibit and wanted to learn more about the swamp,” Cam Cavanaugh said.
The Farny Highlands project had the same dedication by citizens, who gained backing by the government. Governor Christie Todd Whitman approved the legislation appropriating nearly $34 million for preservation to save more than 20,000 acres of land in the Farny Highlands and other parts of the state. When any official, especially a governor, backs up a grassroots campaign, it’ll be sure to get done.
However, there are plenty of projects and campaigns that have an idea, but don’t get any lift. It’s usually because the group has too many ideas and can’t focus on one or they don’t know where to begin with the campaign. As explained in this chapter on land preservation campaigns, it will benefit the group greatly if they can narrow down their campaign to focus on one idea. They will be able to send out a message with a clear idea without turning off many people. Getting starting is hard for anyone. You have a cause to work for, but don’t know how to raise money or awareness. Start out by going to a town council meeting. Let the officials know what the citizens are concerned about. They will then make a mission to talk about it in their next meeting.
There are a lot of issues that need to be dealt with as climate change becomes more prevalent in today’s world. These issues won’t change unless people take charge and do something about it. The government has too much going on to pay attention to what many see as local concerns. However, citizens know what’s going on in their town and what needs to be done.
It takes the right kind of mentality to get behind a campaign and keep it going. Many people say they want to “go green” or help the environment, but only a select few actually do it. If a small group of people can get organized to make a change, you’ll be surprised as to how much can get done. Just get started and stay motivated.