By Rusty Chinnis – May 3, 2021
I’ve written a lot lately about the critical issues facing our local waters and the need for anglers (everyone, really) to get involved in efforts to protect them. What does it mean to get involved? How can you best accomplish your goals? Good questions. I realized late in life the power and necessity to make my voice heard and exercise my power at the polls. That’s why I wanted to share the information that I’ve gleaned by asking those very questions myself.
Complaining about something we have some control over and doing nothing about it works against your interests. Unfortunately, the consequences of inaction often becomes glaringly apparent when it’s too late. Learning how to exercise your rights effectively and efficiently is more critical than ever.
Here are a few ways I’ve found to be effective and links you can use to get your voice heard.
- Write letters. I’ve found that writing letters to the editor of local newspapers is a terrific way for the average citizen to be heard. Chances are the people who need to hear what you’re saying are paying attention. Locally, I submit letters to the Anna Maria Island Sun, The Observer Group, The Bradenton Herald and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Each of these papers may allow you to submit a guest editorial. Also consider writing letters to and perhaps asking for a meeting with a legislator.
- Attend meetings and speak out. The slogan, “Think globally, act locally” is powerful and is perhaps the most effective way to make a real difference. Attend local commission meetings and either speak in person or have your comments read to commissioners. Check on how to do this by using search terms like address of the Anna Maria (substitute your city) City Commission. The same goes for Manatee County or whatever county you live in.
If you’re concerned about an issue that affects you and your children’s future and you don’t act, there’s one thing you can count on: others will be making the decisions based on interests that might support them financially but have a negative effect on you.
Nothing makes that point as dramatically as the recent debacle at Piney Point, where inaction over decades led to the dumping of 215 million gallons of phosphate process water containing 10 times the nitrogen of raw sewage.
I think you’ll find taking action is empowering. By taking action you’ll soon realize that you have a voice and that voice has power. All you need to do is use it.