Action Tips to Influence Public Policy

Our lifestyle choices are a huge part of living sustainably and contributing our part to improving the environment, but public policy also holds great potential for improving our cities as a whole.

Whether you can vote or not, elected officials at the local, state, and federal level are still responsible for representing your interests. So let them hear from you if you are concerned about a local issue or want more progress by communicating your knowledge and opinions to them!

There are multiple ways to contact and influence your delegates. First, go online and find out who your representatives or school board members are. Many politicians also have social networking pages which can be powerful tools for staying active. A letter or call with a brief, polite, and personal message brief can also definitely get your point across effectively.

State how an issue will affect you using personal examples of how similar proposals have impacted your community in the past. The more genuine and passionate you are, the more effective your message will be. By using facts and citing credible sources, you can be more persuasive. Also attempt to offer alternatives solutions to the problem at hand. Finally, include your name and address so they can respond accordingly.

Another option is to serve as volunteer representatives of your city or on the youth council as an advocate. One of the best experiences I’ve had in high school was being in the Model Atlanta Regional Commission. It helped me realize just how significant citizens’ voices were in determining how final results were carried out.

Putting in your two cents can help politicians get valuable and novel suggestions on what the city can do to improve its youth oriented efforts. School board members especially would appreciate finding out how their policies are affecting the students they represent.


OnAir says: What issues do you really care about? How do you think teens should reach out to local leaders and officials with concerns? Let us know your ideas in the comments!

All About the Vote.

So, everybody’s talking about voting these days. It’s an election year, after all—and the buzz is only going to get louder as the year goes on.

But you know, there’s more to voting than picking a president. In fact, there are lots of times that voting isn’t about electing people at all. Sometimes voting is about solving problems. To decide what works for our communities—and what doesn’t.

Here in Georgia, we’ve got just that kind of vote coming up this summer: the 2012 Regional Transportation Referendum.

Simply put, the Transportation Referendum is a plan to make it easier for people and products to get around. And in metro Atlanta, that means addressing our pesky little congestion problem.

Because, um, guys? We’ve kind of got issues with traffic here. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

So on July 31st, Georgians will vote on whether we want to pay to open up some new pathways around our towns—and to improve the ones we’ve already got.

Why are we writing about a transportation vote on a clean-air blog? Because it’s cars standing still that produce a lot of the pollution out there. And one of the first—and biggest—things you can do to make the air better is to take another look at how you get from Point A to Point B.

Maybe you’re not old enough to vote. Maybe you’re not old enough to drive. But you’ll be doing both sooner than you think. Now’s the time to start thinking about what’s waiting for you out there—at the polls and on the roads. Let us help you with that.


  • The Referendum calls for a 1-cent sales tax. And all those pennies will come together to pay for a bunch of projects all across the state.
  • Months ago, people from every region in Georgia came together to pick what they really needed, transportation wise. The result was a set list of tasks, customized to fit the communities that agreed on them.
  • What kinds of projects are we talking about? Well, here’s a taste of what we’re looking at here in metro Atlanta:
    • New roads
    • New transit lines
    • Modifying traffic flow at major bottleneck intersections—like where I-285 meets I-20 west. (Ever tried cruising through that one at 4:30 on a Friday? Try it out sometime.)


Fewer delays:  When roads work the way they’re supposed to, you get places faster. Period.

Safer streets: Certain roads see lots of crashes. Often, this comes from roads that can no longer handle the kind of traffic they’re getting—missing things like proper traffic lights, turn lanes, crosswalks and bike lanes to help move traffic properly. The Referendum would help tackle problems like these in some of the worst-offending crash zones to keep more drivers and pedestrians out of danger.

Jobs, jobs, jobs: Around 200,000 of them, based on estimates from the Atlanta Regional Commission. You might be looking for one of those soon.

More transit trips per day: More bus and rail lines mean more people have access to public transportation. And more people picking transit over driving leads to…

Better air quality! Reducing road congestion means reducing the amount of time that cars are sitting on highways and pumping pollution into the air. If traffic gets moving better, experts predict a sizeable change in air quality. It’s projected to be the same as taking 72,000 cars off the road daily. 72,000. Daily.

If you’re in metro Atlanta and want to see what’s happening close to you, click here to check out a map that lets you zoom in and out on different projects and neighborhoods.

The vote is on July 31, but early voting starts July 9! Go to to learn more.

What’s your take all the transportation talk? Got opinions? Got questions? Leave them in the comments! Let’s get a dialogue going.