Revision 18 as of 2008-02-07 05:31:46

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Include(LoCoMenuHeader) LoCo Teams are all working to advocate the adeoption of Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Formats, and team activism is something that can make a huge difference!


  • Be Creative
  • Be Persistent
  • Be polie
    • Being persistent doesn't require being at all rude
  • Be Inquisitive
    • Do your research and find the resources you need to be heard
  • Be offline
    • Use the phone and even go out in the real world Smile :)

Lobbying Government

Lobbying your local governments, whether it be at the town/city, state, or federal level, to adopt Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Document Formats, especially for schools, can be one of the single most effective and powerful things your LoCo team can do.


Petitions are an excellent first step for new groups. They are tools for public education. The preamble should set out clearly what the issue is and all the reasons for your concern. (Remember the “WHEREAS’s!) They also force you to know clearly what you want from the government. If you want to ban proprietary software on all government machines, say so. If you want free software for schools, say so. But don’t leave a petition hanging with just a general, “we are against prpritary software” statement.

Petitions can be circulated door to door, left with sympathetic local merchants, or you can set up a table in the local mall (although this usually has to be arranged fairly far ahead.) If you are trying to solicit support in a public venue like a mall, don’t be shy! Smile and ask people as they come by if they are interested in the digital freedom. If they avert their eyes and walk away, so be it. Leave them alone and KEEP SMILING! Set a goal. Know when you are done and make a big deal out of presenting the petition. Get a sympathetic politician to accept it from you and alert the media.

Letter Writing

Politicians really do pay attention to their mail! Especially the volume of mail. As letters mount up on an issue, it will achieve greater importance. At the national level, one letter is considered to represent thousands of people’s opinions. The ratio declines as you move down the government hierarchy, but at the municipal level, fewer people write, so the letters still have clout.

Your letter does not have to be typed. Handwriting is fine. So is word processing. The key is that your letter is original and not recognizable as a pre-printed message. ALWAYS SIGN YOUR LETTERS. If sent by mail, include your address for their response.

Your letter does not have to be technical. You do not have to know everything about an issue to write and express your opinion. It does have to be clear. State explicitly what you want the politician to do. Include a specific question requesting his or her response. If the response misses the point or is inadequate, write again. Remember, at the level of federal and provincial ministers, a staff person in the bureaucracy writes the response. The minister may not even see your letter. Why persist? Because as the number of letters add up, the issue is given greater importance. Sometimes you are even able to educate the bureaucracy, or alert the minister to the fact that the staff has him or her signing inaccurate letters.



Whether you’re working to change a policy at City Hall or the federal cabinet, you’ll probably want to sit down and meet with a few of the people who’ll be making that decision. The approach is the same, regardless of how elevated the politician or bureaucrat is. (and, yes, you do have to lobby bureaucrats). As recommended in the “Starting Points” at the beginning of this document: Be unfailingly polite, persistent, network, leave no stone unturned.

Experienced fundraisers say you can reach anyone in the world with only two phone calls. Considering that a radio station in Montreal got through to the Queen of England, who can doubt this is true?! So remember, you may not know the Minister or Mayor now, but there is no reason you can’t get to know them. Don’t be intimidated. Once you have a thorough knowledge of your issue and have done your homework, there’s no reason you can’t go to meet key people and put forward your case in person.


It is an excellent idea to reduce your key points to a one-page document you can leave with the decision-maker. It’s always easier to write a long document than a short concise one, but the effort to boil down your case is well worth it. Busy people (and the more powerful they are, the busier they are) will never read more than a page.

Think through ahead of time what it is you want the decision-maker to do. If the person you’re seeing is in Cabinet, for example, but not the Minister who actually makes the decision, think through exactly what you want. What is the most strategic thing this person can do to advance your case? Is it to speak quietly to someone, to issue a public statement or to introduce you to someone else so you can explain the issue to them? Your one page note should end with a very specific request.

You should also prepare for the personal side of the visit. If nothing else, you will have advanced your cause if the politician is left with a favourable impression - if you’ve started the process of building a relationship. So, do a little research about the person you’ll be meeting. When was she elected to government? Where did he go to university? Ideally, you’ll find you know someone in common, or that you’ve gone to the same school, or that she was in school with your dad.

Be especially sure to research any previous good deeds for digital freedom. The best way to start any meeting is to thank the politician for something they accomplished in the past. Even if it was a long time ago, they’ll feel great to know someone still remembers. And you’ll have them remembering that these issues are (or were) important to them. Don’t ignore the small talk. It may be the best part of your meeting.

If you are going as part of a group, think through how many of you should go. As a general rule, it is a poor idea to have more than three or four people go in to meet with politicians. It is increasingly intimidating for them, and unwieldy as the meeting size grows. Be strategic. If possible do not go to a meeting in a group larger than two or three. Be sure to tell the scheduling person you are dealing with the size of your delegation and the names of the people coming with you. Plan ahead who will cover which points.

The Meeting

Dressing for the meeting is unfortunately something that should be mentioned. Although there is no question that your value as an individual has nothing to do with how you look, you’ll be more likely to reach a decision-maker if you are dressed in a way to which they are accustomed.

Business suits go over better than jeans and sandals. If you haven’t had time to research this person’s background, you can still look for clues around their office. Diplomas, photos, plaques. Find some way to have a more personal chat at some point in the meeting. Most people love talking about themselves. It puts them at ease. A nervous and impatient person is not easy to influence. And, of course, you may find something that creates some common denominators in your lives.

Many people have a one dimensional image of us geeks. Somehow they don’t think we have real lives, children, jobs, other interests. Breaking down the stereotypes is a significant part of your task.

Once you’ve had a bit of small talk, move quickly into the main agenda. Be courteous. Show an awareness that this person is probably very busy. Ask at the outset how much time the person has until their next appointment, bearing in mind that meetings often start late and keep backing up. Do not take up more time than has been allotted.

Present your case clearly and calmly. Give the decision maker your one-page note so they can follow along. Provide any more detailed papers you would like to leave as well. If your issue has a visual element, bring photos. Be sure to ask if the person has any questions. If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t bluff! Make a note and promise to get the information. And, then, remember to get it and send it to the decision- maker quickly, the next day if possible. Remember to ask clearly for what you want. And thank them, first, verbally, and then after with a thank you letter which reminds them graciously of any follow-up they offered to do.

Eductional Institutions

Talking to local schools about Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Document Formats, is very important since schools have a lot to benefit from these and we have a lot to benefit from schools.

Press and Media

Getting media attention can bring us into the public view.

Make the story

Make our case appeal to reporters. Tie the issue to other topics of interest. What are the financial issues? Is taxpayers’ money being wasted? Are jobs being lost? Are the alternatives to proprietary software better for the economy? Make it interesting to someone who doesn’t give damn.

Press Release

Write your own press release. It should read like a news story, not like your group’s manifesto. Put in quotes from group representatives. Be sure to include phone numbers so that reporters can call you to get more details and re-work your press release into their own story.

Fill in the “5 W’s” : Who, What, When, Where and Why. Make sure all your facts are absolutely accurate.

Send your release to ensure it reaches the media before or on your release date. If you are far from a media centre, you can fax or even phone in your release. It is then the decision of the news director in each outlet whether to use your story.

Sample press release: {{{PRESS RELEASE

(Your logo appears here) Group’s mailing address

Headline in Boldface Appears at Top

DATE: Put the date on which you want the story to be released, or put the words “For immediate release: at the beginning of your release.

TEXT: The first sentence should be clear, factual and grab the attention of the reader. It should tell the press what the story is about.

TEXT EXAMPLE: (City): Citizens Organized to Save Wetlands today announced the results of their audit of the costs of the proposed Department of Boondoggles development.

“By our calculations, reviewed by the firm of Somebody Credible Ltd., the Department of Boondoggles will be increasing the provincial deficit by $300 million by choosing this environmentally sensitive site, instead of merely recycling their existing building,” said group chair, J. Q. Public.

Citizens Organized to Save Wetlands are considering legal action if their current petition campaign is unsuccessful in persuading the Department to re-consider its plans. They are also planning a demonstration in front of Department headquarters to take place next Wednesday, the xth of xx, at 12 noon.

“We are confident that good sense will prevail,” said group researcher I. M. Green, “With the provincial election in the offing, and so many environmentally concerned statements coming from the Premier’s Office, we simply cannot believe that this deliberately wrong-headed policy will prevail.

- 30 -

(It is a convention of news releases that they end with “- 30 -”. It tells reporters that the text has ended.)

Contact information: (Don’t forget to include the name and phone number where people quoted in the release can be reached for comment.)}}}

Press Conferences

Beyond press releases, you may hold a press conference but don’t do it unless you have a really good story, or can bring in an acknowledged expert who won’t be available as a matter of course. Hold press conferences somewhere familiar to the media. Make it convenient. Try to avoid having to spend money to rent space. Is there a good community centre close to the downtown? Can you get the help of someone in City Council to use City Hall or the Regional Government Centre?

Letters to the Editor

Did you know that the letters section is the most read section of any newspaper? Not only do people in your community read the letters, government officials have clipping services that reprint the ones dealing with their area. The federal minister of the environment sees clippings from coast to coast, including letters to the editor, every day.

Letters should be short, direct and well written. Of course, they should be accurate and educate readers about your issue. Watch for opportunities to respond to articles that have been in the paper.

Call-in Radio & TV Shows

There are opportunities for free access to the airwaves. Listen to a show a few times before you call in. Get a sense of the host so you won’t be surprised if they disagree with you. It is easy, anonymous and can get your message to lots of people.


God grassroots fundraising is not only a way of raising money, it is a way of raising awareness. (And it also deals with that unspoken question of the uninitiated public, “where do those people get their donations?”)

Grassroots fundraising should involve lots of people as volunteers. Try to get local donations of supplies, advertising, prizes or whatever from local merchants (and of course give them public credit and thanks).

What kinds of things are grassroots fundraisers? Here’s a sample list. But it’s not exhaustive. You can build on these ideas, but better still, come up with your own.

  • Potluck suppers with an entrance fee. Fun. Great food. Cheap and you’ll have something for the campaign pot when the dishes are done.
  • Bake sales. You can get lots of people involved. Hold it at the local mall, or after church.
  • Raffles. Go for donated prizes or make your own.
  • Hold a community fair! Have clowns. Kids’ events. Sell things. Include an auction.
  • Ask a local bar if you can have an evening of entertainment for a cause. This will appeal to lots of young people.
  • Hold an auction. Or hold a flea market of odd junk items. Donate services — a deluxe brunch in someone’s home, or catered to your place, a sailboat outing, babysitting, carpentry, barter for cash for the cause!
  • Hold a massive yard sale. Recycle all your stuff and raise funds.
  • Hold a church supper. Church halls can be rented for not too much, and they are perfect. Big kitchens, well equipped for a crowd and they feel great for community events.
  • Order t-shirts or mugs with your message. Sell them at all your events.

Under construction

This guide is still being written so please help using the following info Smile :)


Please use these resources to help create a customized how to lobby government guide specifically for Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Document Formats. (We do not necessarily agree with any of the organizations, these inks are just resources to use on how to lobby government)


Ideas (Please append @SIG@ to the end of your comment):