Last Tuesday, I attended a Lobby Day event with Kaytee and Stephanie. A national group came together to lobby Congress for a few days and hired Advocacy Associates and the Advocacy Guru to help their day run smoothly from start to finish. For most of the day, I sat with Kaytee at the front desk and helped hand out schedules and information packets. Everyone was excited to have arrived in DC and made it to the festivities. The room buzzed with energy as everyone in the group discussed the issues they wanted to bring up in their Congressional meetings. I thought back to my own Lobby Day experience last March at the Bike Summit and the fond memories I made there.
The group that came together last Tuesday, like the “bike people” (who I affectionately refer to as “my people”), really believe in their cause. It is their livelihood and their passion. They are willing to use their time, energy, and money to make the trip to DC and visit their representatives. They know their industry in and out, and they travel to DC to share their knowledge and expertise with those who make legislative decisions that impact their industry.
Their industry is not one that I had ever given much thought to, which made me realize just how important forming advocacy groups is. Something that may seem trivial to some can mean so much to others. I’m sure there are people out there who don’t care about bicycle lanes and recreation trails (though I imagine they are hanging out with the people who hate puppies and those who enjoy drinking orange juice after brushing their teeth). By getting out and being active in bicycle-related issues, I can help raise awareness, just like the group on Tuesday introduced me to a whole new industry.
There are few things that inspire me more than seeing individuals from across America come together to advocate for a shared cause. Throughout my time in DC, I've been reminded again and again of the importance of taking part in government. In a world filled with injustice, having the right to vote and take part in government action should never be trivialized or wasted.
Whatever the cause, go forth and advocate!