YFT Editorial: Southbound to Austin!
Have you ever wanted something and then asked for it? If you have, then you’ve lobbied before. It simply is a matter of asking for something and presenting your argument or reasoning for it. Basically, to lobby is to influence the thinking of public officials.
On March 2, 2009, we went lobbying with OutYouth Austin and Equality Texas. We comfortably filled up three vans and begun our long, three-hour ride south to Austin. We were allowed one pit stop and the van-ride was just as fun as the rest of the trip. At least, mine was!
We arrived at the youth group down in Austin and they welcomed us warmly and festively. We had pizza, set some s’mores ablaze, had a brief look at the bills [SEE my article on the House Bills], explored their tree house-like center, and ultimately just got to know each other.
Later on that night, we set out for our hotel and claimed our territory in the rooms. It was such an exciting day that my roommates and I stayed up to talk but only got one hour of sleep! Boy, did those guys kept me up all night.
The next morning was extremely hectic as we rushed to breakfast and then to the Capitol to hear the press conference. It was somewhat unorganized, but Bob *clap* Miskinis asserted that, no matter what, we are going to stick together. That was when we all finally stopped running about in circles, and then proceeded together to the training in the Capitol’s auditorium for the training session [SEE my other article on what we learned about lobbying].
We then formed teams, planned out a strategy, and then proceeded with a mission in our minds and a fire in our hearts.
I basically just followed Jeremy, THE “cop”, around because he looked like he knows what he’s doing. He grew up in an extremely political household and can be very persuasive. Jeremy was our team captain and the note taker just had to be geeky old me.
The legislators that we met were representative Jimmie Don Ayecock, representative Byron Cook, representative Mark Strama, and senator John Corona. We never directly talked to any of them. You’d think they would actually stay to hear the voices of their voters, wouldn’t ya? Anyway, we introduced ourselves, present to them our positions, and then tell them our personal stories.
During our first encounter, Martana Plank and Junior Zapata came with such powerful stories that they lost their composure and burst into tears. What really got my heart wrenching was the fact that when we left, the head staffer came after us to offer them water. No other event confirmed to me of our power and impact than that single moment in the trip.
Oftentimes we feel as though our presence do not count – that it won’t matter what we do or how much our very best was. Well, let me tell you something. Martana matters; Junior matters; we all matter.
I’m awfully glad I went on this road trip and I love y’all oh so very much!
Until next time (which will be soon),