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Timing is Everything

In addition to calling, visiting, and writing to your elected officials, you have to be strategic with your communications. Make it a win-win for both parties. When do you write? Call? Visit? You must familiarize yourself with various timelines in the political life of any elected official you would like to engage.

Legislative action schedule

Six to eight months before sessions:

  • Meet in your district
  • Compile and present your playspace audit data
  • Offer model language/concise legislation—great time to talk about planning a citywide or statewide playspace funded by your government
  • Train advocates
  • Invite potential Playmakers

When the session/budget cycle begins:

  • Look for play provisions in proposed legislation
  • Lobby to amend or delete unacceptable language/concepts
  • Visit legislative offices when you need to educate
  • Monitor play legislation and keep Playmakers informed
  • Know when appropriate committees are meeting and time advocate visits and media outreach, i.e., op-eds, editorial board meetings, letters to the editor, accordingly

Throughout the session:

  • Indicate your preferences on legislation of concern
  • Learn from your mistakes and adjust your strategy
  • Ask for feedback

After the session ends:

  • Attend fundraisers
  • Thank the legislator(s)
  • Invite lawmakers to visit a playground or, even better, to the cutting ceremony of a build
  • Give recognition awards and gear up for re-election time

Before re-election time:

  • Identify key legislators/policymakers who supported you
  • Invite candidates to a playspace to meet staff/users/advocates
  • Organize and publicize the importance of play in your community
  • Encourage candidates to include play in their platforms
  • Cultivate relationships with policymakers and key constituents

During primary and general elections:

  • Work behind the scenes
  • Focus on key committees and get to know their members’ interests and priorities
  • Maintain informal but ongoing contact with public officials
  • Continually introduce yourself and identify your issues