LDS ES is a politically neutral group. We don’t, as a group, issue candidate endorsements or promote legislation. Our mission is about education and support. That said, we encourage our members to be politically active, much like the LDS Church recently encouraged its Utah members to participate in local caucuses. So for our Utah members, your calendars should already be filled on March 18 and March 20 for the Democratic and Republican caucuses respectively.
We do a great deal of good if we choose to get involved. We can shape the vision plans, policies, and ordinances of our local communities. The good news is that it is not hard to draw up a seat to the table and make your voice heard. You just have to be willing to put in the time and the work.
The first thing to do is to get informed about your local issues. Read the paper. Join the local discussion groups on social media. Browse through your city’s website to learn about different departments and organizations and who can best address your concerns. Attend city council meetings, and if you can, their work sessions. If you can’t attend in person, read the summaries or see if they are available to watch online.
Listen, try to understand, and ask questions to help clarify the issue. It’s okay to ask for translation: it can take a while to learn the city jargon and normal procedures. Believe me, it’s not always intuitive. Share your concerns respectfully and concisely with everyone you meet until you find the person who can do something to address them. Go to public comment meetings to get informed and shape the project before it is finalized. Volunteer. Even if you are just serving in your local PTA or acting as an assistant neighborhood representative or heading up a service project, you will be doing immediate good and expanding the circle of people you know for future endeavors. As you prove yourself to be a valuable contributor, you will have more opportunities to speak and be heard, to work and make things better.
Not everyone is comfortable in the political arena. I am certainly not. I much prefer to quietly do my work at home with limited interaction with the larger community. But LDS Earth Stewardship has helped to draw me out of that comfortable zone. I started by writing about my life and faith and gradually eased into speaking about how principles of stewardship and gratitude permeate my worldview and color all of the little choices of daily living. I got myself appointed to the mayor’s advisory committee on sustainability issues and elected as a neighborhood representative through our city’s neighborhood chair program. And now I find myself in as a sponsor of a referendum about the future of my city’s mass transit.
I don’t know that I would be where I am today, so involved in my city and loving it all the more for the time and care I personally have invested in it, without my involvement with LDS Earth Stewardship. Being part of this group was my first step. It was my declaration that I believe I have a divinely mandated obligation to care about this earth. Having made that declaration publicly, I feel obliged to live it publicly. I still do all the quiet tasks of stewardship that I love–mindfully cooking my family’s food, composting and gardening, walking and biking, and hanging my laundry to dry. But the demands of stewardship extend beyond my household, and I am now at a time in the life of my family when I can extend my influence outside of the home. I’m curious to see where this path will take me. And I would like to know where your path of stewardship is taking you.