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5 Hours

Image designed with photos by: Elliot Sloman and Joakim Honkasalo

Your mission

Tell your local representatives about issues that are important to you.

Time Commitment: 5 – 7 Hours

Range of Impact: Community

Why this Action is impactful

Participating in the public comments section at a City Council or Town Hall meeting is one of the most effective ways to make your voice heard and participate in improving your community.

What to know before getting started

In the United States communities like cities, towns, and counties elect people to represent their part of the community. The elected officials (council members) work together to make decisions about how the community operates, develops, and solves problems like homelessness, repairing city infrastructure, planning new development, and addressing pollution. Your council member is there to listen to your opinions so they can make decisions that reflect the values and opinions of the people they represent, including you. The only way for a council member to know what is important to you is for you to tell them!

City Council meetings usually occur every month and are open to the public. Citizens are invited to give public comments usually either at the start or end of the meeting. Many city council meetings have gone virtual, with options for submitting public comment online. 

What to do

  1. Search for the date, time, and location of the next City Council meeting in your town. It might also be helpful to search the City Council’s calendar to find out if there are any agenda topics that are related to environmental issues that you care about. You can also look for organizations or groups in your area that are already working together on an issue important to you. These kinds of groups often go to council meetings together to speak out as a team.
  2. OPTIONAL: Once you’ve decided which meeting you will attend, prepare your public comment in advance so you’re ready to speak, or submit online before the deadline. You’ll be able to earn a total of 7 Hours for this Action if you submit a public comment.
  3. Attend the meeting (in person or online). Most City Council meetings have a dedicated timeslot for public comment. Sometimes you’ll need to add your name to the list prior to the public comment period. When it starts, get in line and give your public comment.

Tips and suggestions

  • Your public comment can be a personal story with a call to action, or you can do research about the issue and present your findings and what you want to see happen in your community to remedy the situation. You can comment in support of or against something the City Council is already doing, or you can comment about what you think your City Council could do better to represent you as a member of the community.
  • For in-person city council meetings, you may only have a few minutes to make your public comment. Check with your city to see what time restrictions they enforce, and rehearse your comment before to make sure what you want to say fits in the time allowed.
  • Showing emotion can be a good thing, but you still want to be respectful and focused. You’re already passionate about this topic, so speak from the heart!
  • City Council meetings can be long, but patiently waiting for public comments is worth it!
  • If it’s helpful write your comment on an index card, or use bullets to jot keywords for your main points that you want to make.
  • It’s okay to be nervous, but remember that your council members appreciate that you are there to engage in your community! Take a deep breath, smile, and start by thanking your council member for their service to your community.
  • Consider attending a meeting as an observer first to learn how your city council meetings run and to get used to the environment.
  • Dress to impress, but be yourself!

Track your contribution

To submit your work and get recognized for your contribution to your community, complete the form below. If we approve your submission, you’ll be awarded 5 Hours.

Create an account or login to track your progress.

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Engage with a Local Politician

Take it to the next level and connect with your local representative one-on-one.