Public forums are a key way to communicate with decision makers
One of the most important ways to be heard by your members of Congress is to attend Town Hall meetings or other forums. Members of Congress traditionally hold Town Halls several times a year to hear from their constituents and report back what they’ve been working on in Washington.
What if my member of Congress has stopped holding Town Halls?
Following a rash of angry outpourings at public forums in 2017, many Congress members are avoiding live Town Hall meetings. Some are holding "tele-Town Halls" and Facebook Live events. These are not great substitutes since controversial questions can be screened out and audience feedback may be limited.
As a constituent, you are within reason to pressure office holders to hold in-person forums for learning about your members' agenda. If your elected official has refused to hold in-person events, you can use phone calls, emails and social media mentions to pressure them to meet with constituents. Another option is to reach out to your Congress members at other scheduled events that are open to the public.
Tips for attending
Don't attend silently. Ask a question!
During the Q&A portion of a Town Hall or public form, ask questions about conservation bills or whether your Congress member is working for or against our wild places and environmental protections. It's a great way to get your member on the record and to spread awareness to others listening.
Share context about legislation you want to see passed
When asking your Congress member's stance on an issue or a piece of legislation, it's helpful to give them a little context. Don't expect them to know your issue by its bill number alone. Jog their memory with some context. This also helps educate the audience about the issue.
Speak with your Congress member immediately after the session
All is not lost if you can't ask your question during the Town Hall meeting. Feel free to approach your member afterwards. Be respectful of their time, but don't be shy. As your representative in Congress, they work for you!