Please join us for our Offering of Letters workshop on Saturday, March 11, 9:30-Noon at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 601 Montaño Rd NW, Albuquerque (map) We will view the Offering of Letters video, hold a brief discussion on strategies and the content of the video.
Panel on Congressional Visits
As a special bonus, we are planning a panel on congressional visits, featuring local Bread activists Larry and Ellen Buelow from our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community; Amanda Dezan, formerly of Oxfam Action Corps and currently with The ONE Campaign; and Patty Keane, former chair of Child Nutrition Reauthorization work group (Legislative and Public Policy Committee), of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is currently president of the New Mexico Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (NMAND). The panelists will give us helpful advice as we plan visits to our local congressional offices on Bread for the World's Lobby Day in June (while Larry and Ellen Buelow visit the Washington offices of our legislators).
Here are some reflections from the panelists.
|Ellen & Larry Buelow with staffer for Sen. Heinrich in D.C.|
What is the best way to prepare for visit to a congressional office?"Preparing is half the journey. Bread webinars are great places to learn about issues. The Offering of Letters kit pinpoints why and how to write our congressional representatives. However, to speak to staffers about that issue, we need to gather some personal stories in our community...It’s important to keep conversations concise and to the point while giving perspective on needs in New Mexico."
What are the differences between visiting an office in Washington and visiting the local field offices? Local connections are important. When we met one-on-one with the five candidates for U.S. representative in 2011 and we asked them how they would support efforts to reduce hunger, that was amazing! Whenever I’ve been part of the team visiting our local offices, I’ve always felt welcome and listened to...The D.C. visits sponsored by Bread bring the whole picture together for me. Hearing from Bread activists around the country gives us motivation to speak out locally."
What is your most memorable meeting with a congressional representative? "Several years ago we were on a late flight from D.C. home, and our representative (Michelle Lujan Grisham) was seated several rows behind us. She hadn’t been able to come to our meeting with her staffer, and I had some specific questions to ask her. I asked if she would take a few minutes when the plane boarded. Although it was very late when we landed, she did visit with us. She thanked us for being advocates and gave some honest answers to my questions about SNAP."
|Amanda Dezan, Kathy Chavez met with Sen. Udall staffer in ABQ|
What is the best way to prepare for visit to a congressional office?" Know what you are going to say before you get there, and have your persuasive argument at least somewhat laid out....The people you are visiting are generally very busy, so try and get the main idea in the first minute or two, just in case the meeting ends up being cut short.
What are the differences between visiting an office in Washington and visiting the local field offices? The D.C. offices are definitely the more formal of the two. Not to say you have to be stiff and stuffy when you visit, but professional attire and preparation will help even more with the D.C. offices. They tend to be the more busy of the two, so your meeting will likely be shorter, Always show up extra early for a D.C. visit; you might be seen early, times/people might change, and you will have to go through metal detectors to get into the buildings.
What is your most memorable meeting with a congressional representative? "I met Senator Martin Heinrich in the hallway of the Hart Building in DC, after commenting to my visit partner that it was a bit difficult to get the meeting set with the senator's staff. The man in front of us turned around, introduced himself as the senator, and spent a full two minutes talking with me in the hallway."
|Rep. Lujan Grisham, Alissa Barnes, Patty Keane|
What is the best way to prepare for visit to a congressional office "...Do your research - understand your members and the committees they are on; have a good story and good data...."
What are the differences between visiting an office in Washington and visiting the local field offices? "...Understand the importance of developing relationships with staff, and all the different ways that can happen in-district."
What is your most memorable meeting with a congressional representative? "My first Hill visits to Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham's office. I was so green, was totally solo, had never done it before, was somewhat scared...A few years later, I was downtown and Rep. Lujan Grisham was filiming a promo. They needed extras, so her staff asked me if I could do it, since they know I'm always game to help out.....We have definitely grown to appreciate each other over the years of developing a professional relationship with a shared goal of improving the health and wellness of New Mexicans, particularly those experiencing food insecurity.