Establishing & nurturing relationships between your landcare group and your local MPs and Councillors
A guide to landcare groups for the purpose of developing and nurturing strong, healthy and mutually-beneficial relationships with their local Federal and State Members of Parliament and with their local Ward Councillor(s).
The Neerim & District Landcare Group has established a very healthy & strong relationship with its local MPs and Councillors, going back to around 2002. Obviously MPs and elected council representatives change from time to time, and so the process of maintaining relationships with our elected reps is a continual one, indeed a work in progress. We've found that the following steps (which we have refined over the years) have proven to be very useful, and have actually helped the group to secure support for many of its activities.
Other groups may benefit from our experience, and we encourage them to try this approach, modifying it as they see fit.
Local MPs (Federal & State) and Councillors like to know what's going on in their constituency - they like to hear good news stories (and landcare is generally brim-full of good news stories)
They are freely giving of advice
If you have a problem, don't expect them to offer a solution to your problem - DO expect to receive their support for your solution to your problem
Consider contacting your two MPs (Fed. and State) and Councillor(s) periodically (say once or twice a year with each) and arranging a brief 30 minute 'fireside chat', with the purpose of:-
updating them on recent local landcare activity
updating them on plans for the next few months or so
sounding them out about any support programs at their level of government - use the opportunity to learn from them what's 'on offer' to local landcare and how you or your group might tap into that support
Invite each to a (separate) general meeting of your group (once a year should be enough) - give them a slot in the agenda to talk for 15-30 minutes
Invite one of them to your AGM to conduct the election of the next office bearers
Invite them (collectively or individually) to any landcare activities you have planned within the next few months or so. They love photo opportunities and landcare group gatherings such as tree plantings are great P.R. for them and great for building a relationship between your group and them.
Ask them if they would like to receive your newsletter, and if so, add them to your group's newsletter mailing list - but don't add them to your meeting minutes mailing list (you'll bore them !).
The Landcare Share Centre is grassroots Landcare supporting grassroots Landcare