“That’s the way we’ve always done it.” More stifling, even deadly, words are hard to find. Changing the way we look after the social good can be hard. It pays to start small. You may not sway an entire country, but you can impact your community. It often starts when you change local regulations.
The Impact of Changing Local Regulations
Here are just a few examples of how changing local regulations creates broad impact:
- In Portland, Oregon, the nonprofit Recode is working to change how grey water can and is used in urban settings. Making better use of slightly used water saves money, improves the environment, and lessen the strain on aging water infrastructure.
- Sedona, Arizona, and other communities have adopted policies from the International Dark Skies Association to reduce light pollution and reclaim the night sky as a common shared resource.
- For years Boulder, Colorado has worked at the local and state policy level to form a municipal power utility. Becoming their own utility gives them more control over the source, distribution, and consumption of power, including access to renewable energy.
For heaven’s sake, even the National Pet Pig Association is working on changing local regulations. Maybe it’s time you started working on your local regulations.
Why Work to Change Local Regulations?
Regulations are powerful because of their long-term effect and legal enforcement. Local regulations enshrine approaches to environment, health, housing, transportation, and many other issues that people feel strongly about and want to change. Making change on these issues at the national level is hard, slow, and expensive. But you can make a difference through changing your local regulations. Enough localities change their regulations on a given issue and it becomes a groundswell.
Consider the legal distribution of marijuana. At first, just a couple cities such as Berkeley, California decriminalized marijuana. Then, a few states like Colorado and Washington approved medical marijuana. Next came legal recreational marijuana. More states joined in. Now, a majority of states have some form of legalized marijuana. The federal government still considers marijuana a dangerous and controlled substance, but you can sense the tide is changing.
Sometimes local regulations merely enact national standards. This is true with building, electrical, and plumbing codes. This doesn’t mean you can’t push an exception to the national standards that makes sense for your community.
Use Marketing to Change Local Regulations
A marketing mindset helps you create lasting impact through a change in local regulations. Follow these steps:
- Do your market research. Gather existing data. Conduct your own surveys. Interview people on all sides of the issue you are addressing.
- Design your new regulation. Using your market research, design with others in your community. Create systems and not just rules.
- Promote your new regulation to develop grassroots support for its enactment. Promotion also drives adoption and implementation once your regulation goes into effect. What organizational narrative will drive your campaign of change?
I’d love to hear about the local regulations you’ve decided to take on for the social good. Drop me a note.
(Image courtesy of Flickr)