By: Susan B. Inches
As a career environmental advocate, I am always looking to train and mentor young students and leaders who can take up this work. In doing so, I created an undergraduate course, “Advocating for the Environment”. The course has been well received by faculty and students at two liberal arts colleges: Bates and Colby.
From teaching, I could see the need for a practical, hands on textbook that lays out the practice of advocacy. This inspired me to write Advocating for the Environment: How to Gather Your Power and Take Action, which is the central text used in my courses.
Advocating for the Environment explains advocacy in an accessible way, with stories, examples and case studies based on my 25 years as an environmental advocate and organizer. It gives students a rare look behind the scenes at what actually happens as environmental policies are introduced, lobbied, negotiated, and enacted. It’s the book I wished I’d had at the beginning of my career!
Part I of the book begins with how we must learn to think differently, in order to heal the planet. It discusses the power of our earth stories and organizing as the building blocks of successful advocacy. It lays out how empathy, worldviews, and effective communication can help us collaborate with others, even those with opposing views. Through the study of this book, students begin to understand the differing world views that drive public policies, and learn techniques for building bridges between worldviews, in order to move policies forward.
Part II is all about action. How to use power for good, how to build relationships with decision makers, how to organize events, manage a coalition, communicate with the public, and work with the media are all laid out in an easy to read and reference format.
Advocating for the Environment fills the need for a practical text that prepares students for careers in public policy, advocacy, and organizing. It’s a wonderful companion to traditional environmental policy texts. It’s been lauded by Environmental Science, Environmental Policy and Government majors. In the words of Dr. Richard Peterson, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of New England:
“Author Susan Inches’ insights and advice, from framing a vision to writing a letter your Senator are credible and valuable to my students. The wisdom in this book are just what students need to meet our current environmental challenges.”
Advocating for the Environment is organized in clear sections and provides examples that can guide class assignments in telling earth stories, framing an issue, working with decision makers, writing letters to the editor, writing testimony and more. The Table of Contents is as follows:
Part I: Learn to Think Differently
- What’s Your Advocacy Story?
- What Advocates Do
- Earth Stories and Why They Matter
- Bridging the Left and the Right
- Developing Environmental Policy
- Pulling Together Your Vision
Part II: Gather Your Power and Take Action
- Using Power for Good
- Creating a Winning Strategy
- Building and Managing Your Campaign
- Working with Decision Makers
- Framing Your Message
- Communicating With Impact
- Working With the Media and the Public
- Epilogue: Eight Reasons to be Optimistic in Troubled Times
Appendix A: Sample Testimonies
Appendix B: Sample Press Release, Frequently Asked Questions, Fact Sheet
For Further Reading
Susan B. Inches has worked in environmental policy for over 25 years. She served for 14 years as a senior official in Maine state government where she conducted research, designed and led public engagement processes, and drafted, lobbied and passed legislation. Always curious and wanting to learn new things, she’s worked on numerous policy issues including renewable energy, energy efficiency, land use planning, the working waterfront, building and energy codes, rural development, rural broadband, and fisheries management. Inches now works as a consultant, teacher, and advocate with a focus on the environment and climate change. She developed and teaches a unique course called Advocating for the Environment at several private colleges. She also offers public workshops, consulting, and webinars on the same topic. She’s an active member of the Sierra Club, the Maine Power for Maine People Coalition, and serves on the boards of First Parish Yarmouth and Defend Our Health.