Making connections in Transit City

The sixth and final step toward getting engaged in social change that Amanda Sussman identifies in the first chapter of The Art of the Possible is to get connected. “Get in touch with those working on your issue,” she says, “by setting up one or two informational meetings… to supplement your research and help you shape your next step.”

This is the point at which you start to build your own network of contacts. You’re connecting with people who are active on your issue, and you’re keeping an eye out for additional new contacts and connections.

“A good place to start,” Sussman says, “is with one or two of the major advocacy organizations you identified.” In the case of Transit City, for example, the people behind the Save Transit City site would be a great option if it wasn’t apparently down for good. In their absence, Spacing could be a great organization to contact, and TTC Riders could as well. Oh, and check out Steve Munro.

Another option is to request an “informational meeting” with a city councillor who supports the plan. Ideally, they can give you a better sense of who’s doing what, and how you can help. Note that if you’re only gathering information, you may not have to meet directly with the councillor; a meeting with a member of his or her staff may do the job nicely. In either case, come prepared with a list of questions, and be specific about what you want from the meeting, so you can evaluate its success after the fact.

There’s another simple but effective option that Sussman doesn’t mention. As we’ve noted, social networks like Twitter are home to a great deal of discussion on Transit City and other issues, and they’re a great way to connect with people who share your point of view. A simple Twitter search for “Transit City,” for example, will show you who’s currently talking about the issue. You can follow and/or message those people, and hopefully they’ll respond in kind. Before long, you’ll be part of an informal but active network, sharing information and talking strategy.

“Once connected,” Sussman says, “you can focus on finding the right role for you – whether it is raising public awareness, participating in further research, organizing educational activities, or working on policy advocacy through direct contact with the government.”

Posted in Democracy