We know that creative advocacy can draw media attention, engage the community, and help build a relationship with a member of Congress or their staff. But how can we design our own creative actions to advocate for an issue we care about?
The following tactics draw inspiration from “Beautiful Trouble,” a book compiled by grassroots activists for peace and justice.
When going on a lobby visit, it’s important to bring a “leave-behind” which states your “ask,” or the specific action you want your member of Congress to take.
But instead of bringing in a plain sheet of paper, you can make your leave-behind more memorable by adding a creative touch. Ask children in your community to draw pictures on the leave-behind before your lobby visit to illustrate the importance of future generations. Or engage the local community more directly in making your ask, like the FCNL Advocacy Team in Brunswick, Maine.
Illustrate the widespread community support for your position by delivering a community sign-on letter asking your member of Congress to vote a certain way. But instead of delivering a written list of names, think of a symbolic way to represent each of the signatures that will make a lasting impression.
This could be anything: origami peace cranes, flowers, or dove-shaped cookies - like the ones made by Advocacy Team members in Burlington, Vermont.
Use recognizable cultural icons to make your creative action go viral, and to create a highly visible image to spread your message more widely on social media and in the news.
FCNL used culture jamming in our 2005 “Can It!” campaign against the US-India nuclear deal.
Here are a few underlying principles to keep in mind as you design your own creative advocacy action:
- Seek common ground. It is always important to ask, does this tactic further the relationship? How can we find creative ways to connect over common values?
- Show, don’t tell. Find a way to represent an issue visually and it will make a stronger impression.
- Bring the issue home. Tie an abstract policy issue to the impact it has on your local community.
- Engage the community. Bring people into your work through creative actions that draw attention and engagement from passersby.