It’s summertime, and we’re all ready to take some time and relax with our families, whether we’re enjoying the beautiful Piedmont or getting away on vacation. But in my 15 years at PEC, one thing I’ve learned is that big developers and their allies do not take a summer break. In fact, the opposite is true. They often use the lull in citizen participation to make their move—sometimes in ways we didn’t see coming.
"This summer, take a break but stay in
touch. If you don't get PEC action alerts
in you inbox, it's time to sign up at
www.pecva.org -- or find us on
Facebook."Photo by Katherine Vance
This summer could see action on crucial issues like the Outer Beltway through northern Virginia and the Charlottesville Western Bypass, as well as significant changes to local plans and zoning ordinances, and to federal transportation and farm legislation. And those are just the ones we can predict.
So, this summer, take a break, but stay in touch. The good news is that we’re making it easier than ever to keep up with the issues, wherever you are. In fact, you may be surprised to learn how active PEC’s staff is when it comes to communicating online.
In the last six months, our field staff sent out over 40 e-mail action alerts focused on local and statewide issues (don’t worry—you’ll only get the ones that matter in your community). As always, we do our best to make complex information accessible while giving you access to in-depth resources. And our online advocacy tools make it easier to get involved, so you can take part without taking hours to do so.
If you don’t get PEC action alerts in your inbox, it’s time to sign up—at www.pecva.org . You can choose your county and topics of interest to you. We’re careful not to flood your inbox—but we will let you know when important decisions are coming up that affect the future of your community. We also try to get the word out about upcoming events, from Meet the Farmer dinners to bird walks to workshops on how to make your home more sustainable.
PEC is also more active than ever on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube, and we’re experimenting with new ways to get the word out. For example, we recently created a slideshow of hand-drawn illustrations that map out alternatives to the Charlottesville Western Bypass. We posted the slideshow online, emailed it to our Charlottesville and Albemarle subscribers, and promoted it on social media. It generated a huge response – with many people telling us that this was the first time they really understood the Places29 plan. Places29 is a smart growth plan, outlining improvements to the local road network that will work better than the proposed bypass to fix traffic on Route 29. Don’t see how? That’s what the slideshow is for.
Our email action alerts allow us to move fast—getting the word out when you need it on issues that matter where you live. Social media helps with that, too, while also giving us the chance to circulate interesting articles, fun events, and helpful tips—and to learn what you think about them. Still, as always, there is no substitute for getting directly involved--offline, in person. When you are able, the most effective way to influence decisions is to attend public hearings, talk to your elected officials, or write them a personal message.
So, connect with PEC, and help us to keep protecting the Piedmont through the summer. And have a great one!
This letter was featured in our Summer 2012 Member Newsletter, The Piedmont View