Spread the Word: Practical Tips for Engaging Your Community

Media and Messaging for Earth Day

Some events have a clear, simple message that all participants are encouraged to use, such as the International Day of Climate Action last October which lifted up the number “350” as the necessary target for atmospheric carbon reduction. For Earth Day, we are encouraging congregations to be more creative and develop your own slogans and public activities on the theme of ethical eating. Ideally, the messages and activities will be tailored enough to your community to garner local media attention AND there will be enough congregations across the country acting on the ethical eating theme to warrant national media attention. We believe that the ethical eating theme is sufficiently unique, specific, and current to attract coverage.

There are three interrelated components of ethical eating we encourage you to connect in your messages and activities: food, faith, and justice. We want the media and general public to see food as both a religious issue and a justice issue. It’s a sad fact that the production, distribution, and consumption of food has a disproportionately negative impact on marginalized communities, from the low wages and poor conditions experienced by many farm workers to the lack of access to fresh, healthy food experienced by many poor people. We believe that casting food justice as a religious issue is a highly effective way to reach and mobilize a powerful constituency. It also appropriately represents our own Unitarian Universalist motivation for the work.

Your signs/slogans might be as simple as “Food-Faith-Justice,” but we encourage you to be creative! The same goes for your public activities. Think about projects that link food, faith, and justice. Use existing partnerships with marginalized communities or create new ones, remembering to respect their priorities and cultures.

Also, please keep in mind that justice, health, and protecting the environment are the goals; events and media attention are tactics for reaching them. Advancing the goals without media attention is always preferable to media attention that doesn’t advance the goals.

The UUA has put together some great resources for publicizing your environmentally-friendly programs, including sample fact sheets and press releases:

Register your event so the UUA can consider including your congregation’s action in a national press release. Please include the date, time, location, and a clear description of your event. Send your own press release to your local papers.

The media is most interested in stories with one or more of the "Four Cs": Controversy, Conflict, Contradiction, or Colorful Language/Characters. Be sure to address the religious and moral dimensions of the issue you are addressing, and explain how your event arises from our UU values.

The International Day of Climate Action was not only a great success worldwide, but also in UU congregations. More than 100 congregations participating and sixteen congregations were featured in newspapers across the country. Read about those successes.

Sending Photos We love photos! Please follow these tips to increase the likelihood of your photo being featured on the UUA and UUMFE’s websites:

  1. Choose photos that clearly illustrate your event. Dark, grainy, and distant shots may not add as much to a story as a clear, close-up or action shot.
  2. Send your photos to office@uuministryforearth.org with a description of the image, the image’s permission information (photographer’s name or the name of the person or organization authorizing reproduction of the image), and the name of your congregation.

 

Sending Stories It is great that you decided to take action. Share your story to inspire others! We will feature stories from Earth Day 2010 on the UUMFE and UUA websites and in upcoming newsletters. Please email your stories to office@uuministryforearth.org.

Photos, Groundwork Lawrence: top, Lawrence, MA, Farmers Market; bottom, Final CSA Distribution, Fall 2009