leaf blowers zero air pollution
research regarding leaf blower laws
 
Media Contact Sheet

List of Experts

Press Observer

Visual Aides

Testimony

Meetings

Public Demonstrations

Opponent Demonstrations

About 7 printed pages.

 


Educate the Press

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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 Center’s 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 press.
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 you’ve 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 the bottom. 
  • 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 BLOWERS.”
  • 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 wear them.
  • Hand out a description of ANSI standards found on this web site.  If possible, discuss how the ANSI decibel level standards relate (or don’t 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 neighbor’s blower might be from your home.

TESTIMONY

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”.
Sound Effects

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 louder.
 
Emission odors will also contribute to the points you or others make about air pollution.
 
If you can’t 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. . .”  (01.7.2)

MEETINGS

Invite at least one press and/or media reporter to a private meeting of your group, and provide “photo opportunities”.
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 use. 

If your event is covered, set a VCR to record the whole news broadcast.  You never know exactly when it will show up, and you’ll 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 honoree.

Have reporters and media there to record your show of appreciation for the politician’s 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. 

PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS

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.  Don’t 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 actually is.
  • You could smile, and whip out a spare.
  • Back off with your hands thrown up in overstated surrender.  Possibly yelling, “Don’t hurt me, Don’t hurt me”
  • 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 you’d 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 manufacturer’s 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 won’t listen and you’ll 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 day’s 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 opposition’s 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 opposition’s 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 won’t 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 gardener’s 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 up.

Press reports on their demonstrations also included quotes from health experts, which only supported the ZAP position against blower use.
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.