True battles often are fought at the local level


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This past weekend, we took our daughter Melissa to see “Hidden Figures,” a powerful film based on the true story of three African-American women mathematicians at NASA. The film covered their roles in the space race and some of the challenges they faced back in the 1960s as black women. 

My daughter, who at first didn’t want to go, rated the movie 9.9 out of 10; not far from the 93-percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes

This was indeed an inspirational story — the kind that gets us motivated to keep working with passion to make the changes important to our own life and our own future. It showed the importance of standing up for what is right and finding ways to be heard and be counted — in the workplace, in the local schools as well as in the local towns. 

The film conveyed a message that former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham came to share with almost 200 people in Cape Canaveral at the signing of his book "America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall — and Win" at an event organized by the League of Women Voters of the Space Coast (LWVSC). 

Graham identified three essential requirements to “fight city hall and win” that were also depicted in “Hidden Figures”— passion, skills and persistence. Co-author Chris Hand went over practical tips documented in the book to help citizens bring their issues to light, start a dialogue and propose solutions, especially at the local government level — where we can most immediately see and feel any impact. 

The audience appreciated that insight, an insight that LWVSC has practiced for many years through efforts at the local level of government. The LWVSC also effectively applies the principle of joining forces in winning those fights. Take the expansion of solar energy for the example. Since group rates are normally better, the LWVSC created a local solar co-op (flsun.org/spacecoast/) that residents can join to increase their buying power and save up to 20 percent off the cost of a solar system. That increases the chance of expanding solar in Brevard and to date, 150 members joined the co-op. Others are invited to join since the LWVSC is accepting new members until Feb. 28. For information, check their website. 

The New York Times also identified the involvement in local government as being fundamental for pressing issues that need to be addressed right where we live, like climate change and the mitigation of its effects. They report that “over the last two decades, cities and states have been able to take substantive action. They have fortified themselves against rising seas, switched to renewable sources of energy, expanded mass transit and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Local officials took charge of addressing the problem and are determined to continue doing so “regardless of what they see from Washington.” 

“Cities are where climate change problems originate, and therefore that’s where the solutions are,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City to The New York Times

Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) understands that, too. With currently 365 chapters and the goal of having chapters in every congressional district, CCL works to “empower citizens to connect with and influence their members of Congress and to spread the idea that each one of us can address climate change.” (citizensclimatelobby.org). Gaining support from local leaders help take solutions to Washington, CCL’s chapters work to build healthy relationships and gain support at home as well. 

As in the film, we find that often to change things for the better we need to “fight city hall” or at least deeply interact with it as an active citizen and sometimes, like Mary Jackson in “Hidden Figures,’’ we have no choice but to be the first.

Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@3RsAndBeyond.org.