6 tips for making your voice heard and avoiding issue fatigue

The setting sun cast a glow on Mount Rainier as a meadow of Lupine is consumed in a gathering dusk in the sub-alpine meadows above Paradise.
The setting sun cast a glow on Mount Rainier as a meadow of Lupine is consumed in a gathering dusk in the sub-alpine meadows above Paradise. Staff file, 2012

Pick two.

This is the advice Ani Kame’enui of the National Parks Conservation Association gives for people who feel overwhelmed by the number of issues with which they are passionate.

“There is always the threat of resistance fatigue because of the number of issues, the scope of the issues and the speed with which we are seeing them come at, particularly, our natural resources,” said Kame’enui , the association’s director of legislation and policy.

So how do you take a stand and still remain productive in your personal life?

“Pick two issues you are going to work on and give your all to,” Kame’enui said from her office in Washington, D.C. “If you try to do everything, you’re going to get fatigued.”

If protecting public lands makes your top two, Kame’enui and others have recommendations on how to make your voice heard:

1. Stay informed: “For me, it is pretty simple,” said Tom Vogl, chief executive officer of The Mountaineers. “It’s get educated. Get involved.

“The more people and organizations are knowledgeable about issues, the more we are going to be able to work constructively.”

Kame’enui recommends tracking issues with an organization you find reliable.

2. Write your congressman: “It pains me to say it because it’s what so many issues are saying, but the phone calls, the emails, showing up still really matter,” Kame’enui said.

She has heard many reports that calls to lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are going to full voicemail boxes. If this happens, call their in-state office, Kame’enui said.

Vogl agrees. “Thank them for their support of public lands,” he said. “Or if you don’t agree, make your voice heard. I think a lot of politicians respect robust conversation.”

3. Go to meetings: Federal agencies often have public meetings during comment periods for certain projects. Go to these meetings, Vogl said.

4. Talk to others: “What all of our research shows about social media and communication is that people take recommendations from friends better than they’ll ever take a recommendation from (the media) or an organization,” Kame’enui said. “If somebody in Tacoma is feeling very secure about their senator and their representative, their next option is to reach out to their personal network of friends and family living in other places and say, ‘This is how you do this. Your voice still matters.”

5. Donate: Giving money to organizations championing your cause can make a big impact, Kame’enui said. “(Nongovernmental organizations) are not wasting money right now,” she said. “Every single dollar matters. Whether it means hiring another lobbyist or making sure you are able to do grass-roots campaigns. It’s absolutely a tangible way that you can contribute.”

6. Get outside: “Enjoy the spaces and places that motivate you to take action,” Kame’enui said. “I think that helps with the fatigue of what we are being inundated with.”