Megan Fair Speaks at Wilmington Yearly Meeting

When I enter an office to lobby anybody, and I don’t care what side of the aisle they’re on, I’m always nervous. I do remind myself that God is in the room, and that there is that of God in everyone, including myself—brings me strength, brings me joy—and in the person that I’m speaking with. I can lose track of that during the conversation, if a few things are said that kind of shock me. But it’s kind of like deep breathing.

To go back to that understanding that there’s that of God in this person, and that’s who I’m speaking to… I’m not speaking to the fear, I’m not speaking to whatever training the person has given themselves to get through the world as they see it. I’m speaking to their better part, to that of God.

-Ruth Flower, legislative director at Friends Committee on National Legislation

Megan opened her session with a Quakerspeak video on FCNL, which featured Ruth Flower:

 

Megan then spoke about the Ladder of Engagement: an image which breaks down the process of getting more involved in lobbying into manageable steps. FCNL encourages Friends to consider climbing one more rung to become more engaged. The ladder image serves to welcome more people into the lobbying process.ladder of engagement

As a way of helping Friends climb the ladder together, FCNL is working on building advocacy teams. These begin with three or four people in a community who are willing to work together. Once these teams contact FCNL, they will send out a trainer to help them understand their role in the lobbying process.

Then, the team participates in a monthly phone call and a monthly action together. The phone call keeps them informed, and the monthly action keeps them involved.

According to FCNL’s website:

The power of Advocacy Teams comes from each team member’s commitment to changing Capitol Hill for the better – and the knowledge that we’re stronger together.

You will build an ongoing relationship with your members of Congress.

You will learn how to work with the media to see the news you want.

You will foster a network of advocates in your community.

You will help your members of Congress become champions for peace and justice.

You will change Washington for the better.

Friends broke into practice groups of four or five people, to help us imagine what this might look like. We were given the option of “lobbying” on either preserving access to healthcare or opposing an expansion of the military budget. To guide our imaginations, Megan gave us copies of the “Lobby Visit Roadmap” that she was given when she first went on a lobbying trip for FCNL at seventeen. Here’s the roadmap:

Introduce yourself and those with you.

Thank the representative/senator for something they’ve done that you agree with. (this may require research)

Make the “ask.”

Give facts and tell stories to support the ask, keeping the emphasis on stories rather than expertise.

Solicit follow-up questions.

Thank the representative/senator for the time.

Repeat the “ask.”

Leave behind documents supporting the ask.

Follow up with their office.

Friends had productive and inspiring conversations as they imagined themselves lobbying as a group. What could we be thankful about, with regard to the imagined politician at the meeting? What supportive stories would we tell?

Megan Fair, a member of Wilmington Monthly Meeting in Wilmington, Ohio, currently serves on the FCNL’s Executive Committee and is the clerk of the FCNL Field Committee. She lives in Seattle, WA, where she works as a Civil Rights Assistant Manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Washington (CAIR-WA), a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Megan credits Wilmington Monthly Meeting’s hosting of the Christian Peacemakers Team with directing her toward work in the Middle East and interfaith work with the Muslim community.

Megan obtained her BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. While at Guilford, Megan was a Quaker Leader Scholar and completed the School for International Training’s Modernization and Social Change program in Amman, Jordan.