Local First Workshop Recap: Civic Engagement 101

Decisions are made whether you engage or not. Find a seat at the table. 

Last month, we were thrilled to partner with the Michigan League for Public Policy to bring our members the first Local First Workshop of the year: Civic Engagement 101. Amari Fuller and Jayme Vosovic shared invaluable information and resources with attendees on the power they hold in policy change as small business leaders and how to activate their voices to advocate for the changes they wish to see. Continue reading for a recap of the presentation and how to access MLPP’s resources.

The presentation, led by Amari Fuller, focused on two key areas: a civics review, particularly as it pertains to our local and state governments, and an advocacy crash course. Beginning with a brainstorming session of all the ways policy touches our lives, Amari then provided a quick breakdown of our federal, state, and local governments and which policies fall into each bucket. After some context on how bills are introduced and later become laws, she emphasized the importance of knowing your decision makers and identifying how they affect the region you reside in.

Following these brief civics reviews, Amari dove into Advocacy 101. She shared with attendees that advocacy is…

  • Educating people about an issue or the impact of a policy.
  • Influencing decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions.
  • Sharing nonpartisan analysis, research, or study.

But, why advocate? Bringing your voice to the table has the power to change public policy, further an organization’s mission, and shift narrative and culture. Decisions will be made, and policies will be changed, regardless of your engagement, so it’s imperative to pull a chair up to the table.

Amari then shared three foundational pillars of advocacy: legislative advocacy, media engagement, and grassroots mobilization. Through these pillars, there are ways to engage both ‘inside’ the room and ‘outside’:

  • Working with policymakers, staff, and collaborating on strategies;
  • Direct lobbying for/against a specific legislation;
  • Traditional media (interviews, press conferences, etc.);
  • Grassroots organizing;
  • Door-knocking, petitions;
  • Apply pressure with social media campaigns focused on the issue, to name a few.

Good advocacy appeals to both the head and the heart: it strikes a balance between data, facts, powerful imagery, and personal stories. So, where do we begin?

  1. Find your leaders and identify your decision makers! These can be school board members, county commissioners, state and federal legislators, mayors, even business owners!
  2. Ask yourself: How many do you know? How well do you know them?
  3. Power Map! Power Maps are visual tools to help you identify who has power and who may influence them. See the example below.
  4. As a business leader, advocate for policy that is good for your business and staff, and empower your staff to get involved with you!

Remember: you are a powerful, influential leader in your community and your voice matters. To get started and access the resources provided to attendees, explore the links below:

The Local First program is dedicated to bringing workshop opportunities to our community. We cannot thank MLPP enough for their contributions both to this workshop and to our communities beyond. We are also grateful to Supermercado Mexico for providing our wonderful workshop space and refreshments. Stay tuned for what’s next in June 2024, and in the meantime dive into these great resources!

Local First Workshops are powered by the MEDC.

Recent Blog Posts

June 12, 2024

Local First Webinar Recap: Understanding the CTA

The Corporate Transparency Act effects all corporations and LLCs with operations in the US: are you prepared to report, and…
Learn More
May 28, 2024

People Behind the Business: Asian American Pacific Islander Month

Happy Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month! Supporting local businesses is creating human scale economies that celebrate our unique identities…
Learn More
April 24, 2024

Local First Workshop Recap: Civic Engagement 101

Decisions are made whether you engage or not. Find a seat at the table.  Last month, we were thrilled to…
Learn More
April 22, 2024

Ask Your Local Credit Union!

Happy Move Your Money month! Here at People First Economy, we know that where you hold your accounts has a…
Learn More
April 8, 2024

Keep the change (when you move your money)!

Keep the Change  Did you know that you can put the dollars you deposit to work!?    When you choose…
Learn More
March 7, 2024

Michigan’s Women-Led B Corps

March is B Corp Month and Women’s History Month!   Certified B Corporations™ (B Corps™) are for-profit companies that use the…
Learn More