30 Aug Template Letter for your Member of Parliament as part of Canary Craftivists climate project
Checked by the ex-Head of Campaigns of WWF to make it as strategic and impactful as possible for Canary Craftivists who are new activism and climate action.
Dear Canary Craftivists,
Your gentle protest letter may be small but it is mighty: in our fast-paced world where so many people are vying for the attention of your UK Member of Parliament with big demonstrations and loud demands, your small and carefully handwritten letter accompanying your beautiful chirpy handmade canary gift can be even more memorable and powerful than you might think. You can attract your local politicians’ and their staff’s attention in this quiet and intriguing way with your humility, empathy and concern for our climate.
The aim of this letter is for your local Member of Parliament (and their staff) to:
- FEEL – encouraged, respected and held accountable for in/action on global warming locally and nationally.
- THINK – climate is not just a niche issue that a loud minority of climate activists cares about, it’s actually an issue that the quiet majority of my constituencies of all political persuasions and none and who don’t see themselves as activists are also holding me accountable for and they might not vote for me if I don’t act faster and bolder on this issue! It’s a reputational risk if I don’t do more!
- TAKE ACTION -to make bolder and faster changes to lower emissions locally and nationally as well as hold the UK Government to account for the results of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) for world leaders in November 2021 in Glasgow since the UK Government is the host!
- REPLY – not with a prepared cut and paste answer but with a bespoke response addressing your personal worries as a concerned constituent.
- Please post your package first class delivery ideally on Wednesday 8th September to their constituency office (not Westminster office) to arrive later that week. It is still possible to send before November 2021.
- Find out who your MP is at: www.theyworkforyou.com
- Find your MP’s local constituency office address on your MP’s personal website, through the House of Commons Information Office, listed in local libraries and town halls.
Crafting your letter:
Before you start writing, imagine how you would feel receiving this letter and gift if you were a politician: would it encourage you to put climate action higher up on your to-do list? Would it make you feel seen and valued as the unique human being you are, not just a faceless politician being told how to do your job? Would you think the writer may vote for you in the future if you did more about climate? Would you want to thank your constituent for their gift, display it as an encouraging and supportive object and reply personally or would you feel negatively judged, manipulated or shamed and not want to look at this ‘gift’ again?
Put yourself in the shoes of your MP (even if you do not agree with their past actions or beliefs) and craft your letter to be a piece of compassionate correspondence encouraging them from a potential voter of theirs, to use their power and influence to save our world and our local communities from climate catastrophe.
First, breathe. Then, in your neatest and most attractive handwriting (ideally with a fountain or ink pen), s-l-o-w-l-y write your letter with courage, care and belief that your MP can be part of the solution to global warming when they are encouraged to do so. Even if their track record makes that look unlikely, it is good for your mental health not to write people off.
Below is our template. Feel free to change, delete or add to any of it to be more personal and relevant to your MP’s political beliefs, personal passions and to sound like you might vote for them in the future if they do more to protect you from climate catastrophe. You may already know them and want to build on the good relationship you already have or start afresh with them to be seen as a critical friend rather than an aggressive enemy. Stick to using nonviolent communication (NVC) e.g. using words like ‘could’ rather than ‘should’, ‘encourage’ rather than ‘demand’, ‘and’ rather than ‘but.
Dear [Title] [First Name] [Surname] MP (and your staff team of course!)***,
I hope you in time become as fond as I have of the friendly yellow canary enclosed with this letter that I hand-crafted for you and your team. It took me [x hours, x minutes] over a few [days/sessions] to complete over the summer. Sending you this is my first campaign/climate action. I’ve been so worried about the effects scientists warn us of global warming for our local community and for future generations. I handmade this gift for your office as a way to encourage you in your role as the Member of Parliament for our area [name of constituency] and your team to use your power and influence to do as much as you can to protect our community and country from global warming. I ask you to encourage Alok Sharma and Boris Johnson to be bold pioneering hosts of the UN Climate Conference for world leaders in November at such a historic and decisive year.
I made you a small yellow canary because they were used to accompany coal miners to give warning signals when the air was too toxic to work in and miners often called their canary partners ‘colleagues’ and cared so much for their little buddies that they wanted to protect them from harm, sometimes more than themselves! I hope you see your canary, I named [xxx], as an optimistic and loving friend encouraging you to do the most you can to help create a cleaner and greener constituency, country and world. I hope that you see his (it was the male canaries that would sing so beautifully to their miner colleagues!) yellow colour as a symbol of hope and belief in you to lead us in flight towards a cleaner, safer, healthier future.
Whilst I was crafting the canary I was reflecting on the benefits of nature for our wellbeing as well as how much more beautiful our area can be by lowering emissions faster, conserving our wildlife and creating green jobs that will last for our local families and communities. I was also imagining how difficult it must be for you and your team to deal with so much correspondence, demands and requests, as well as what a tough job you have making important decisions. Your responsibility is huge yet I can imagine how rewarding it can be too.
You may also receive some handmade canaries from other constituents who, like me, are worried about our environment. I was surprised that most of the people I met were new to taking political action too. Together we discussed the window of opportunity in 2021 for decisions to be taken to conserve the nature we love. We all shared a desire to hand down to children our environment in a better state than we inherited. We met as a purposefully small and quiet ‘flock’ dressed as yellow canaries at [known and loved local area] to show our climate concerns on social media and in our local newspaper. Maybe this canary [name of your canary] will have some companions on your desk or shelf! 🙂
I hope this letter and [name of your canary] encourages you to act courageously and carefully to look after our fragile home. I would really appreciate it if you could please reply to me to let me know what you are planning on doing locally and nationally to address my and others’ growing levels of climate concern and make people like me hopeful and less fearful for our future.
I wish you all the best and hope to hear from you soon. What a wonderful feeling it would be to be able to say that you had a role in saving people and nature from devastation!
Yours respectfully and in hope
[Title, First and Surname – Email address &/or postal address. Make sure your postcode is included even if you don’t want to add your full address so that they know you are a constituent that they are accountable to and represent.]
*** By mentioning the staff in your correspondence (which they will not be used to!) the more positively memorable your package is, the more likely the staff will want to display your canary (because it created dopamine in them neurologically!) and you’re one step closer to getting a more personalised response from your MP and for them to remember you too as a critical friend.