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E-M:/ Tips on contacting Congress

Enviro-Mich message from "Alison Horton, Sierra Club-Michigan" <sierrami@sojourn.com>

As we all find numerous reasons to communicate with our elected officials
in Washington on environmental issues we care about -- I want to share
several rules of thumb to help people maximize their effectiveness.

1) The very best contact is of course personal -- watching for and showing
up at any of the local community meeting, coffees, forums that members of
congress consistently hold in their districts is a good way to do that.
You can always find out when the next event is by calling the district

2) The best approach to get your input noticed quickly is a phone call to
the Washington office.

3) The next most effective contact method is to fax a letter into the
Washington office.

4)  The next choice would be a phone call to the district office (which has
the advantage of being more economical but means you are likely to be
talking with staff who aren't up on the issue and the congressperson's
position) -- and they aren't likely to get your concerns to Washington
quite as quickly.

5)  Writing a letter, when there is less urgency, gets the more detailed
substance of your concerns into the hands of the staff handling that issue.

6)  Email, although fast and cheap and, therefore appealing, has the
disadvantage of often being filtered through some automatic response
systems for Congress -- so you may get generic acknowledgement of you
message long before anyone in the Congressional office ever sorts through
the email and does anything to categorize your comments.

Hope folks find this useful.
Alison Horton
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.

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