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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

April 2004 Issue

Lobbying and the Landscape Architect
How to make your voice heard on the Hill.
By Nora Richter Greer

Lobbying and the Landscape Architect
Copyright James Yang/ IMAGES.COM

Listen to the political rhetoric of Campaign 2004 and you'll often hear the buzzwords "special interests." It's not hard to understand why this phrase is sometimes used in a negative way: The many divergent influences affecting our politicians can change the political landscape. Less understood, perhaps, is the process of advocating for a specific point of view, one that will affect the passage or rules of legislation. That process is lobbying, and it can be as simple as writing to a federal, state, or local official to express an opinion on some public issue or as complex as forming a broad coalition of like-minded organizations to generate support.

Lobbying is a legitimate and necessary part of our democratic process. Public officials cannot make fair and informed decisions without considering information from a range of interested parties. Therefore, if you are thinking about addressing a legislator on a specific issue, you need to know the implications of your point of view. You also need to provide the legislator with background material about why you are lobbying for a certain decision and an analysis of the effects of that decision if it is reached.

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