2017 was an exciting year for Population Connection’s members! Last March, Population Connection staff began outreach to members across the country interested in getting more involved with population issues in their own communities—and were met with an incredible level of enthusiasm and energy! In total, 209 members volunteered at 111 events, in 84 cities, reaching an estimated 9,008 people! These activists collected over 1,200 petitions urging Congress to increase funding for international family planning.
Our Member Engagement staff began their efforts by coordinating member activities on Earth Day. Earth Day proved to be the perfect event to mobilize Population Connection members all over the United States as they took to their local events to help people make the connection between population issues and environmental conservation. Over 100 members volunteered across the country, hosting tables at 16 different Earth Day events and distributing literature at the March for Science. These dedicated activists reached an estimate 4,000 people in one weekend! You can see more Earth Day 2017 pictures and read the blog post here.
A Population Connection member for nearly 20 years, Paul Rodgers is also a dedicated activist in his community. He volunteers with Population Connection in order to “get the word out, motivate people, and make them aware.” He finds that “overpopulation is the root cause of our environmental problems.” When advocating for population stabilization, Paul finds that he helps people make the connection by meeting them in the middle; “You really have to tap in to find out what their interest is, what their concerns can be, what their ability to help out is.” This is why member outreach is so important—a single conversation can go a long way towards informing people in your own community about the importance of working on population issues.
In addition to Earth Day, members distributed information on population issues and shared family planning petitions at 22 farmers markets and festivals across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Orlando, Florida throughout the remainder of the year. These types of local events are great venues for issue advocacy and building local connections!
Dirk and Bonnie Walters have been members of Population Connection since 1979. Bonnie explained her interest in supporting us by explaining that, to her: “Population Connection is well named; it is connected to everything! It didn’t take me long to realize that this issue is fundamental and will overwhelm everything else. The scientist in me can understand exponential growth and doubling rates, so this issue isn’t going away.”
Dirk and Bonnie both advocate for “the education of women, letting them know they have choices and helping them achieve those choices.” They’ve found that people in their local communities are very receptive to this message: “Lots of people say ‘right on, glad you’re here, don’t give up!’ That’s always nice.”
Bonnie wants to inspire other people to get out in their community: “The more people we can get saying it out loud, the better. Tell people this problem isn’t going away. Get the education and dedication out there!”
In addition to farmer’s markets and participating in large events like Earth Day fairs and marches, members found that partnering on local events, like film screenings and panels, is an excellent way to bring people together and highlight the intersections between population and many other global issues. Members organized and participated in documentary film screenings and presentations and discussion panels in Portland, OR; Los Angeles, CA; Dallas, TX; Santa Barbara, CA; New York, NY; San Diego, CA; Columbus, OH; and Reedley, CA to help people in their communities make the connection between environmental and reproductive justice.
Population Connection donors can support our work by donating through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Several intrepid members represented us at 11 workplace giving events across the country, encouraging state and federal workers to consider making their annual pledges to Population Connection. (Interested in learning more about the CFC? See more information here!)
Population Connection member Dane Kamin set up tables at workplace giving fairs—he finds that tabling is a fun way to engage with your community and share why you are passionate about population issues. Those fulfilling one-on-one conversations are priceless for the movement. After tabling for Earth Day in 2017, Dane told me that: “We’ve got to reach the public with this message instead of being online, talking amongst ourselves.”
In his advocacy, Dane oftentimes asks a passerby what issue they are most concerned about, whether it be local, domestic, or international. He then uses his breadth of knowledge about population issues to demonstrate how nearly any issue is exacerbated by rapid population growth!
There are countless opportunities to volunteer with Population Connection in 2018. Are you interested in getting more involved with us in your local community? You can find resources to get started at https://www.populationconnection.org/getinvolved/ and meet your local coordinator by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re excited to help you make the “population connection” wherever you are!