One of the first steps to becoming locally engaged (and arguably one of the most difficult) is learning the issues and the policy options for addressing them. Unlike at the federal or state level, events in city or county government rarely receive broad press coverage. For most people, staying up-to-date at the local level can be a real challenge. How, then, can you acquire the information needed to become an engaged citizen of your city and region?
Fortunately, the resources are out there, but the solution requires a combination of effort and creativity to take advantage of them. You might start by combing through the town newspaper or or city website for background knowledge. Details about city council meetings and recent legislation as well as video from those sessions are often available online. Later, you might choose to take on social commitments like networking with like-minded citizens or reaching out to local officials.
At ESAL, we realize a significant barrier is simply getting started and knowing where to look. That’s why our latest Playbook guide — Research a Policy Issue or Initiative — provides an outline for the learning process.
If you are an engineer or scientist who is interested in policy but not quite sure how to make an impact, we hope you find this guide useful. You can also access more step-by-step guides in our Local Engagement Playbook, which will continue to update with resources that empower engineers and scientists taking action in their communities.