I had the pleasure of representing Sustainable Seattle at Worldchanging's Future City event last Friday. The main attraction was seeing the Mayors of Portland and Seattle be interviewed by Alex Steffen, who asked a series of questions about how to achieve sustainable urban development; a crucial issue since, as Steffen pointed out, the world's urban population grows by 200,000 people per day.
"Team Mayor" only had about half an hour on stage, which is a pity as they touched on a lot of important issues without having the time to really explore many. The part I found the most interesting was Portland mayor Sam Adams's response to a question about how individuals can help political leaders be effective. He talked about how it's never safe to assume that because you got your person elected you can just sit back and see things happen; instead it's important to keep engaging, keep writing to politicians, and keep articulating what you want. And not to only write to politicians about what you oppose: writing to people in support of what they are promoting helps them get it done, because every letter is counted, and a stack of supportive emails is useful ammunition for your representative. He finished with an exhortation that's worth quoting verbatim:
Don't take for granted that you live in a liberal city. Get off your duffs and speak up for what you believe in.