Guest Blog: Activists Toolkit Supports Community Action
By Rachel Rosenberg
As Executive Director of Safer Pest Control Project , (SPCP) a Chicago-based nonprofit, and a former owner of a natural lawn care company, I understand that advocating for local communities to adopt natural lawn care practices is no simple task. While working with potential customers at my company, it was always fun to see the light bulb go off in their head when they made the connection that what they were putting on their lawn had potential harmful impacts on their family’s health and the environment. Though it isn’t rocket science, getting people to this light bulb moment is a challenge. You have to override decades of aggressive marketing by the conventional lawn care industry and the general perception that an EPA label on the bottle or bag is like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Out of the gate, the odds are stacked against the natural lawn care advocate.
I have found that a single person can spark significant change in a community. My career as a local activist hasn’t followed a pre-set, organized plan. I learned how to advocate for change through trial and error, and respond to a crisis on the fly. As I learned about who the important players were (my child’s school, the park district, the local PTA, etc.) I figured out how to engage with them. Now I sit on my community’s Environmental Commission, where I hope to achieve my goal of getting my community to pass a resolution that would improve the management of turf on municipal property. While I’ve had both successes and failures, I feel like having some guidance early on would have been a huge help. This year, Safer Pest Control Project has been able to develop that very resource.
With help from our funder, Patagonia, the Activist Toolkit: A Guide to Promoting Sustainable Lawn and Landscape in Your Community, is now available for free online. It provides a roadmap to success and extensive resources on how to get your community on board. My hope is that SPCP’s newest resource will inspire activists from across the country to make their voices heard in the effort a change in how their cities manage parks, schools, libraries — basically any property that has a lawn. We work on this issue from all angles. We spend time engaging cities as well as conducting trainings for professional landscapers. We want communities and local homeowners to be able to contract with a lawn care company that knows how to do this kind of lawn care! We are also working with retailers to stock the products. Success will be more challenging if there are no qualified contractors in your community and nowhere to buy organic fertilizers, so we see one of our jobs as connecting these dots.
Download your toolkit today or pass on this link http://spcpweb.org/factsheets/Activists_Toolkit.pdf to your social media contacts, local papers, environmental groups and school PTA’s.