If you are reading these ideas, people who disagree with you may also
have looked into this web site and our links.
Some of the following suggestions also relate to meetings with legislators.
Compile a Media Contact Sheet for your use.
If your computer automatically links to websites, this will be a timesaver.
Make a list for local newspaper, radio and television station web sites
and other contact information so you can easily send Press Releases via
email or FAX. Their sites will give detailed
information about submission or notification requirements.
Submit Press Releases, Advisories and Calendar Events to Environmental
Media Services and/or to individual local press sources.
The actingforchange Media Resource Centers Guide to Local Media
Organizations (Referenced with workingforchange)
allows you to compose one message, and send it to up to 15 different press
or media connections just by checking them off. The list, itself,
is thorough. If this list refers only to concerns listed on their
site, locate the emails or websites of press and media through their site,
and contact them individually, yourself.
Some web browsers will show the exact web address at the bottom of your
screen, when your cursor is over the highlighted name of a link.
Instead of going directly to that link, you can just write down the address
for later use.
|Early in your efforts, contact local
|Suggest interview questions for reporters
to ask your opponents. Anticipate some of the answers, and
request that follow-up questions be asked when the press is given
stock answers or erroneous, responses or statements.
|Compile a list of experts in your area
to make available to the press and media.
|Contact the experts in advance to
get feedback and their permission to be listed. Make this
list available to the press. Use this list when you need speakers
at public hearings or events to which you have invited the press.
Include local health experts and associations; pediatricians, respiratory
and asthma specialists, audiologists. Suggest leading questions
for reporters to put to these experts.
|Invite a Press Observer and/or Photographer.
|When you take individual or small
group action suggested elsewhere in this website, such as petition
signature gathering or speaking to a gardener while you give out
copies of the law and health information, try it out once or twice
to see how it goes.
Then invite a single reporter or press photographer along to document
the activity. They can just observe your activity and interview
you later, or they can also interview others. There is a good
chance that an article, or at least a photo, will be published.
Press may be covering a community event in which you participate.
If allowed by the event coordinator, contact the press in advance
with background information on your contribution. Send them
the handouts or literature you plan to use.
Some newspapers will use photos provided by you, if you send it
along with a press release youve written yourself. Suggest
article ideas, contacts for interviews, and sources of facts.
You should not need a photo release form, if other people in the
photos are fully visible from a public area. A photo may make
your point without clearly identifiable faces, such as a gardener
with a gas blower on his back, his head turned away from the camera.
Have visual aides which
are easy to photograph and recognize at a distance, if the press
will be at a meeting or event.
(Find graphics in our Presentation Materials)
See below for visual aides at demonstrations.
|Sign wording should be short, solid,
large, with high contrast, to be distinct from the background.
Banners tend to fly and flip around so their wording may be useless
unless they are mounted on poles at either end or are weighted at
- Carry rakes, brooms, blowers.
- Wear protective gear recommended by manufacturers and OSHA
(respirator mask recommended as protection from dust, noise
protecting earmuffs, wrap-around protective glasses, and gloves).
- Carry used asthma inhalers/sprayers to use as
you march, with a final tossing of the sprayers into a trash
bag that has a sign such as TRASH ASTHMA: TRASH
- Try to keep a baby doll away from a real or cardboard blower
that sweeps in front of you.
- Wear a cardboard house placard, with
leaves, dirt, grass clippings and debris glued to it.
Or, pin or glue artificial leaves to a T-shirt and hat, and
- Hand out a description of ANSI
standards found on this web site. If possible, discuss
how the ANSI decibel level standards relate (or dont relate)
to the real world.
- Use a gas blower in short spurts, at both low and high speeds.
A partner can walk nearby, speaking in a normal tone about blowers
while carrying a sign saying Can YOU carry on a conversation
with me while this blower running? Or Available
for Interviews next to the Noise Blower.
||Manufacturers of machines that are
tested at 65 dB at 50 feet claim that a normal conversation is possible
at this level. Try to carry on a normal conversation
with a reporter while the machine is running within 5 or 10 feet.,
the distance your neighbors blower might be from your home.
|Give testimony at public meetings:
|Call in advance to be put on the list
of scheduled speakers. You may have to also sign-up at the
meeting, itself. You may be allowed only one speaker from
your group. Perhaps others could speak as individuals.
If they have arranged it in advance, they might speak as members
of other groups to which they belong.
Oppose the machine and its impact on health and the environment,
rather than the user of such a machine. The user is probably
a homeowner or small business gardener, or employee of a large landscape
firm, who is just trying to get the job done, and has been told,
and thereupon believes that there is no other way to do it economically.
Point out who stands to gain and lose if a regulation or ban proposal
fails. Big business gains more than distributors. Distributors
gain more than gardeners. Gardeners and residents lose when
their health and peace of mind is negatively affected.
|Charts and graphs.
|Print out the presentation list and
pie charts from Survey99, which can be downloaded or copied from
Presentation/Illustrations on this web site. For use with
an overhead machine, most computer printers can print
them, in color, on clear transparency sheets found in computer or
printer supply stores.
Or, make your own graphs and pie charts. Microsoft Word will
do this easily. From Insert, choose Object. Then choose
chart or graph designation. You may be able to choose a chart
type right away (such as a pie chart). If not, right click
within the walls of the chart illustration frame to get a choice
for chart type. A data frame will also appear. Statistics
entered in the data frame will magically be transferred into the
chart or graph illustration you have chosen.
NOTE: In some computer programs, if you make the charts available
to others, and do not make those copies read only, these
statistics will be available them.
|Slogans and/or Signs
|Where it is allowed in public meetings,
wear signs across your back and/or chest, with one of the slogans
provided in our download section. Different people in your
group could wear different slogans, or have the same graphic or
slogan printed on many t-shirts, which are otherwise the same color.
Use the pie charts as a graphic. Click here
for one source we found on the Internet, but have not used ourselves.
Choose your words carefully. Use terms which are specific,
and which reflect your position. Think in terms
of small parts that might be quoted or used as headlines, or as
sound bites in television. Say liquid fuel
rather than a specific fuel, or two-stroke gas engine
rather than blower; or all machines known as leaf
blowers, if you are including electric. Throw in the
term dirt-blower or noise blower.
Ask the elected official representing
your position to arrange for you to run a blower for a full minute
at a meeting regarding the issue of leaf blowers. Run it
both 5-10 feet from the speaker, (as they are used in residential
neighborhoods) and at 50 feet from the speaker (as they are tested),
while someone continues speaking. When it is turned off,
ask all elected officials present to consider whether they could
hear and concentrate on the speaker, and whether they think their
blood pressure was raised in only one minute. A minute is
a long time when you have no control over an irritating factor.
Point out that you will run it at full throttle, and reduce it
to half throttle, as recommended by some manufacturers and one
website. If you want to be really fair to all sides of this issue,
run both an old machine, and a new one labeled with significantly
lower decibel levels. Age, maintenance, model, and throttle speed
all make a difference in results.
Point out that the ANSI standards they may have been quoted for
decibel levels of blowers are created from the average of several
sound measurements in an open field, at a distance of 50 feet.
Average means some were quieter and some were even
Emission odors will also contribute to the points you or others
make about air pollution.
If you cant use a blower, see if you can use a tape recording
set to play at the sought after or approved decibel
level, and bring from a distance up to within five or ten feet
of the elected officials.
Someone did start up a blower from his visitors seat
at a Los Angeles City Council meeting, perhaps without permission.
While he was immediately escorted from the council chambers, the
point was made. The memory was made. And, other ban
advocates continued their testimony.
In Canada, a Vancouver City Council committee experienced an active
blower while a university medical researcher and former
Social Credit cabinet minister walked around the room with
a decibel reader. The result: 102 decibels . . .closest
to the blower. . . 90 at the head of the table. . .
|Invite at least one press and/or media
reporter to a private meeting of your group, and provide photo
|Other big news may keep
your reporter from the meeting. Include a news-making speaker
or unusual event.
And/or take your own photos and videos and offer them to local newspapers
and T.V. news stations before their deadlines. First, find
out what length of a video clip they would most likely
If your event is covered, set a VCR to record the whole news broadcast.
You never know exactly when it will show up, and youll also
be able to catch the promo for your segment.
If your purpose is to show a large group of supporters, be sure
to draw in members and their friends and neighbors who agree with
your position. Remember, only a small amount of those who
say they will come may actually show up, so plan accordingly.
Underestimate your expected attendance in your Press Release.
You will get far fewer people than planned.
|Invite an elected official who has helped,
and who supports your issue, to a well-attended meeting.
|Give them an appropriate award
which is framed or otherwise ready to display. Perhaps a local
artist could draw a cartoon of the speaker fighting off dirt and
debris coming from a blower. When it is presented, be sure
it is held towards the photographer and high enough that it will
show in a close-up photo. Have your own photographer be sure
to get the photos you want.
If your leadership does not want to be cut out of a photo, place
a hand within the shot, perhaps on the award that is held by the
Have reporters and media there to record your show of appreciation
for the politicians efforts on your behalf. Ask questions
which, in themselves or as the speaker replies, will inform the
general public about your issue. Quotes in the press and media
that have been made by public figures will carry more weight than
the same information put out by you.
Be sure to send a follow-up letter to your speaker, with thanks
for attending your meeting, and pointing out his or her good work.
Follow up your meeting with a letter to the editor of the local
paper, or an opinion piece, about the meeting or about an article
they printed about the meeting. Praise the speaker for specific
statements or reasons.
|If your group is considering a demonstration
or rally, check www.
ran.org for 198 non-violent, legal, suggestions for getting
attention of the press and law makers. LINK
|In L.A. you must apply at least two
days in advance for a permit.
If you hold a demonstration, be sure you assign a few people to
be observers, who appear to be uninvolved. They
should keep an eye on everything, and write a follow-up report immediately
after the event. Their testimony may be required if something goes
wrong. A few people should be assigned to deal with police
or others who question your right to assembly
They should be
shown copies of laws such as the Prunyard
decision, and/or your permit.
Designate specific responsibilities to different people. Some
will hold signs. Some will be main speakers. Others
should be informed enough to speak individually to press and media.
Target the machines, their pollution, and perhaps employers and
homeowners who allow and pay for blower use.
|ZAP did not hold demonstrations or rallies
|ZAP presented facts to elected officials
and to the press, expressed concern, and fought for the right to
a healthy and peaceful existence.
We used phone calls, faxes, emails, personal conversations with
elected officials and their staffs, attendance at City Council and
State Senate and Assembly meetings.
|If your opponents are as contentious
as they were in L.A., consider that someone might grab your visual
aid. Let it go, rather than anger an opponent so much that
they strike out at you.
||Experienced activist leaders of blower
advocates used anger and accusations as a political ploy.
Dont play their game. Lighten it up. Whatever
you do, over react.. Instead of being interpreted as fear,
it will seem like the game or theater it
- You could smile, and whip out a spare.
- Back off with your hands thrown up in overstated surrender.
Possibly yelling, Dont hurt me, Dont hurt
- Speak very quietly, with understanding, pointing out that
you know they are angry, but you are both just trying to make
a point. Suggest you both step aside and youd be
happy to give them printed information explaining the dangers
of blowers to the public and to their operators. Ask them
a reasonable but leading or well-thought-out question, which,
if overheard by the press, makes your point. Do
you always wear a mask when you use a blower? Do you know
why the manufacturers recommend you wear ear, eye and breathing
safety gear? Look at this page of manufacturers warnings.
||Either you will have started a dialogue,
or they will have become so bored that they leave.
More aggressive action:
- Back off, while loudly pointing out that they are stealing
from you. If public attention is drawn to your plight,
the aggressor may leave. Or, he or she may strike out!
- Prepare the rest of your group to start a thief, thief
or merely a long O-o-o-o-o-o chant as they point
and rub their fingers in a shame on you motion at
the offender several times. Perhaps the foolishness of
it all will diffuse the situation. As soon as the threat
is over, drop the action and act as though nothing has happened,
so you can get on with your efforts.
The point here is, be prepared for anything as
a group. Try to diffuse the situation, not to get in an
argument, for they wont listen and youll look foolish.
Visual Aids at a Demonstration:
(Find graphics in our Presentation Materials)
- Have a few people attend, mingle with the crowd, and pass
out information that clearly identifies approved protective
gear. Someone from your group could walk around wearing
all of the gear, carrying or wearing a sign that identifies
it as such.
- At one City Council meeting, both English and Spanish language
manufacturer warnings and instructions for protective
gear, which had been enlarged and highlighted in yellow, were
handed out to gardeners and other spectators. Council
members had been provided these highlighted warnings in advance.
- Pass out lists of alternative tools and work adaptation suggestions.
- Hand out free health-or hearing-screening coupons, arranged
with a local audiologist or health clinic who might donate one
days work. They might offer free screenings to the
first 10 or 20 people who use the coupon to call for an appointment.
Or, have them set up in a van outside your oppositions
rally. In any case, arrange for them to have publicity
or press coverage for this good deed, and a letter of thanks
from your organization or a national health organization.
- You might have someone walk around with a blower turned on
during (and a short way away from) the oppositions demonstration.
They will probably have designated marshals who
will try to make you turn it off, and try to chase you away.
Keep it below 65 db and 500 feet from a residence, and it wont
break LA noise ordinance laws.
If you live elsewhere, check your local noise
and nuisance laws.
|Find out if your opposition has applied
to hold an event.
|This means having someone check for
permits on a regular basis. Perhaps the office of the elected
official representing your point of view gets this information daily,
and could alert you.
The experienced professional activists who led one Los Angeles gardeners
group took advantage of every opportunity to hold demonstrations,
gaining personal publicity as well.
This may have backfired for them. They blew the issue way
out of proportion, and exaggerated the economic hardships to the
point that employers, who might have been sympathetic and considered
reasonable rate increases, lost interest, instead.
Their attitudes, quoted often by the press, brought more opposition
to the use of blowers from people who had not previously spoken
Press reports on their demonstrations also included quotes from
health experts, which only supported the ZAP position against blower
|ZAP did not counter media events held
by blower supporters.
If you wish to gather evidence or take advantage of the press your
opposition will bring out for their event, consider these suggestions:
- At a minimum, have one person attend and take notes or tape
or video what is said.
- Give minimum advance notice to the press that you will have
several people a short distance away to present your viewpoint.
- Conduct your presence there in such a way that you do not
need a permit. Reporters often interview people who attend
an event. Instruct your people what to say. Assign
different short sound bites to different people.
Have handouts of information for the press and passers-by.
Use the term dirt blower.
- The Rainforest Action Network suggests holding a counter-demonstration
or speech that starts nearby. Present a press-worthy speaker
just a little before the opposition demonstration starts.
The press may be willing to miss part of the other demonstration
to listen to your speaker, or to privately interview him or
her when the speech is done.