Action Utah, a nonpartisan community advocacy organization, will be conducting a civic engagement training at the Logan City Library on Tuesday, April 23. The class is sponsored by Cache Valley United for Change for all interested residents.
“Our goal is to get people involved in government,” said Susan Jelus, founding member of Cache Valley United for Change. “People often want to be involved but don’t know how. This civic engagement training is designed to help people start using their voices.”
Andrea Himoff, co-founder of Action Utah, and Carrie Butler, policy director for Action Utah, will present at the training on tools and advocacy opportunities to make civic engagement easier for Utahns.
“One of the things that was brought up at our first meeting in March was that we want to continue a dialogue year-round,” said Karina Brown, co-founder of Cache Valley United for Change.
“We are learning from each other and helping to elevate everyone’s voices so that they may be heard,” Brown said. “I want people who come to this event to feel empowered and have the tools they need to take action, no matter their cause.”
Jelus said that she believes some of the most effective changes are made at the local level, where ideas can easily be tested.
“For example, city governments in Southern California are leading the way in setting renewable energy policy,” Jelus said. “They are trying lots of different energy conservation solutions, and because they are small, they can identify and correct any issues that come up without making huge mistakes.”
She added that she hopes individuals will take away one idea or goal about how to engage with local or state government.
“Maybe they’ll start communicating with their elected representatives,” Jelus said. “Maybe they’ll start going to city council meetings or town halls. Maybe they’ll talk to their local grocer about plastic bags. Or maybe they’ll decide to run for office.”
No matter the causes people get behind, Jelus and Brown hope that their organization will continue to grow and help Cache Valley become more involved politically.
“Our form of government is ‘by the people’ and we have the freedom to vote and to communicate with our representatives and to contribute in all sorts of ways,” Jelus said. “If we don’t exercise these rights and freedoms, we may lose them.”
Brown said that no matter how many people show up to their meetings, if one person learns how to call a local representative, organize a rally or write to their local newspaper, she believes it would be worth it.
“There have been lots of separate groups working on local, state and national issues here,” Jelus said. “This can result in fragmented efforts, and it can also be overwhelming. So, Cache Valley United for Change is reaching out to people who are interested in working for a better world.”
Jelus said that by working together toward common goals such as clean air, energy and water conservation, or basic human rights, the organization hopes to increase its strength.
“Even when the solutions people envision for our problems aren’t the same, bringing people together will help everyone get a better understanding of all the perspectives and possibilities,” Jelus said.
The group meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the Logan City Library. Other events and training sessions are announced as scheduled.