What is a Town Hall Meeting?
Members of Congress hold town hall meetings in order to hear from their constituents and share information on what is going on in Washington. Town halls are usually free and open to the public, and are a great way to have your voice heard. We’ve gathered some tips and resources on this page to help you get to your next town hall and bring the faith-based message of care for Creation.
Finding Dates and Locations
The Town Hall Project has created a comprehensive and easy-to-use guide to town hall meetings happening around the country. To find a schedule of the ones nearest you, simply enter your zip code. You can also go to your Member’s website, join their email list, or call their office for event updates. Not sure who represents you in Congress? You can find your Members of Congress in the House of Representatives and the Senate here.
- Get in touch with your state IPL affiliate. Our state affiliates have a wealth of information on the environmental issues in your area, and are a great resource to both help you prepare for a town hall meeting, or to get you involved with groups that are already planning on attending.
- Research your Member of Congress. How have they voted in the past on climate and environmental legislation? Are they a person of faith? Who funds your Members? Do these organizations share your values? Being informed will allow you to question a poor voting record, or to reach them in a focused and effective way.
- Be informed on the issues. We believe we are called by faith to be good stewards of Creation and to protect the Earth for future generations, but what exactly does this look like? Being informed on the legislation will help you effectively advocate for our common home. Interfaith Power & Light aims to use the latest science and the wisdom of our diverse faith traditions to inform our current positions on a variety of climate issues. You can download our current talking points for Offshore Oil Drilling and Clean Cars. You can also see our current actions or read specific bills that are related to environmental protection. (Note: IPL does not necessarily support all of these pieces of legislation)
- Prepare your questions in advance.
- Don’t: Ask a yes or no question.
- Do: Speak from your experience and let them know you are a person of faith.
- Do: Ask a question about a specific piece of legislation.
- If you ask about a piece of legislation be prepared to quickly explain what it is; Members of Congress read thousands of bills.
- Do: Ask a question about a political action.
- Asking about an action, for example: “What have you done and what will you do to strengthen environmental regulations?” can help you get a specific and unscripted answer from your Member.
- For further suggestions, please contact your IPL state affiliate.
- Invite others to attend the meeting with you! Large groups make a statement. Attend with other members of your congregation, members of IPL, friends, and/or family.
- Be Seen! We’ve created several posters that you can print out to further the message of care for Creation
During the Town Hall Meeting
- Make sure you sign in!
- Sit up close or near a microphone.
- Briefly introduce yourself. Give your name, where you live, and that you are a member of IPL, a non-profit organizing a religious response to climate change.
- Ask your question and be polite. Your Member of Congress is more likely to listen to you if you are respectful. Even if you disagree with them, try to phrase your question respectfully and tactfully.
Once It’s Over
- Stick around! If you don’t have a chance to ask your question, sometimes you can speak with your Member one on one after the meeting. This is also a good time to speak with one of their staffers or to leave a business card so they can follow up with you.
- Network with other attendees. This is a great time to make connections to other climate activists or to tell interested people about IPL and the connection between faith and environmental protection.
- Get the message out. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or post to your social media to tell others what your Member said and to encourage others to attend town halls.
- Don’t make it your last! Your Member of Congress will be more likely to listen if they see your persistence and passion.