Active Transportation Coalition
Active Transportation Coalition meeting features local spokespeople
The most powerful spokespeople in our active transportation advocacy are people who themselves are impacted by or have lived experiences with the promise and deficiencies of our public and active transportation networks. These are everyday people who are riding bikes, using bike share, riding public transportation, and or walking to the places they need and want to go. Because of their lived experience they know what’s working and what needs to be improved.
On March 16, 2023 the Active Transportation Coalition met in-person and virtually to hear from Pat LaFleur, Metro’s External Affairs Manager, Cam Hardy, Metro’s Community Outreach Coordinator, and Elese Daniel, Red Bike’s Engagement Manager. These local spokespeople shared their experiences as advocates and professionals who are building more editable transportation options and advocating for safer, more accessible, autonomous movement for all.
An effective spokesperson knows their subject in-and-out whether that’s through lived experience, research, or a network of partnerships. Their earned wisdom on a subject is a valuable tool to help others understand a new perspective. As such, spokespeople are often called upon to speak with the media or the general public to help illustrate a cause. As a former reporter and editor at WCPO Channel 9 News and within his current role as Metro’s External Affairs Manager, Pat LaFleur works with the media regularly and kicked off the meeting with a few tips.
- Get to know local reporters by introducing yourself and the causes you care about.
- Take note of the stories reporters are writing and choose to work with someone who is interested in your cause.
- Contact the editor’s desk and ask about news cycles and deadlines. Some stories are reported in a day, others need more time to develop.
- If you appreciate a reporters work help amplify it by sharing within your networks.
- Help journalist find real people to talk to. This could be yourself or your allies.
Journalists don’t want to tell a story that is completely abstract. It’s one thing to tell a story about traffic crash trends. It’s another thing to tell a story about a family who lost their daughter, and now they’ve turned into one of the biggest advocates in their neighborhood. That’s a compelling story, right?
It always comes back to the people and you want them to be real people, the people who are impacted by the issues that you’re trying to bring attention to and have your political leaders address.
We’ve mentioned changing hearts, minds, and policy. I would suggest that you can’t change any minds without changing their hearts first. You can’t change any policy without changing their minds. So you’ve gotta start with the heartstrings.Pat LaFleur, Metro External Affairs Manager
Cam Hardy introduced himself as a regular Metro bus rider. Over the years he’s experienced the many benefits of public transportation and it’s challenges too. On a particularly hectic bus ride Cam decided to use his voice and experience to advocate for better public transportation. Using Facebook Live he called on the leaders at Metro to meet him on the bus and work through the issues he was facing. His call to action went viral and Metro responded.
Cam later started to organize with other bus riders who shared a similar vision for reliable public transportation and together they formed the Better Bus Coalition. This grassroots organization helped win the powerful and game-changing Issue 7 vote which has paved the way for improved and expanded transit service and transit-related infrastructure improvements throughout Hamilton County.
Lovingly, Cam describes Metro buses as Metro Limos. This fun catch phrase caught on and has helped people see a more luxurious side to public transportation. Just think about it, a personal driver with hat, tie, and all! Cam now works as Metro’s Community Outreach Coordinator helping others effectively use Metro’s wide array of public transportation services. Through transportation trainings and community listening sessions he helps every day bus riders make the most out of Metro’s services and invites us all to give Metro and try.
Through his experiences as an advocate and now as Metro’s Community Outreach Coordinator he learned that people often share common values like a love for their community and safety for their neighbors. As a spokesperson, Cam let’s his experiences within the community and his passion for reliable, accessible, safe public transportation lead the way.
You know, we banded together. We got everybody on board. We did not look at this like a polarizing issue (Issue 7). We went everywhere. I made it a mission of mine to go to places other people wouldn’t go. You know, like Tea Party meetings and neighborhoods out far in Colerain Township.
Where those folks and I agree is that we care about our community. We want it clean, we want it safe, and we want reliable transportation. Those are things that we can all agree on and that’s what we move forward on. We didn’t talk about the things we didn’t agree on. We talked about the things that we wanted to see through and push through and move forward. And so that is how we were able to get everybody on board around Issue 7.Cam Hardy, Community Engagement Metro
Elese Daniel is creating a more just and joyful transportation network as a bicyclists and bike share conspirator. In 2018, Elese helped Red Bike launch its Go Pass program, which offers discounted memberships to riders who make less than 200% of the federal poverty level. This year, Elese is leading the charge on Red Bike’s Community Ambassadors program. Rooted in equity, connection, and opportunity the program allows Red Bike to partner with existing neighborhood organizations to build community support for bike share and biking by creating fun and engaging bike rides and events, for residents to participate in and learn more about bicycling. As a spokesperson Elese advises we first ask ourselves, what are we advocating for and why. What is the purpose?
So when we go into neighborhoods and I make up a program like Community Ambassadors, I first ask myself, what is it that I’m trying to do? I really just want the people who live in this place to be stewarding the relationship of how Red Bike operates in this place. They get to decide where these stations go. They get to decide how we are engaging.
Now, ultimately, for me, it’s to build more people who like bikes and get to be leaders in the bike spaces. That’s a big goal for me.Elese Daniel, Red Bike Engagement Manager
This year, Red Bike is on track to expand their bike share services and stations into Evanston, Avondale, and Walnut Hills. With this new expansion Elese has been attending community council meetings to meet neighborhood leadership and share information about the benefits of bike share. By listening, showing up, building relationships, and developing trust Elese is hoping to break down barriers to bicycling in their neighborhoods and promote bicycling as fun and safe.
Thanks so much to our talented and thoughtful speakers for sharing their experiences and wisdom! In this article we covered working with the media, finding shared values, and setting your purpose. During the meeting we covered so much more so please watch the video below.
If you’re interested in being a spokesperson for active transportation reach out! Know that you have a community of allies within the Active Transportation Coalition available to proof read your key points, listen to your pitch and provide feedback, or help you find the right reporter. So get out there, let your passion out and be yourself—your voice matters!
A collection of good and helpful tips to be an effective spokesperson:
- Make a list of your key talking points.
- If possible edit these bulleted ideas into one line statements. The idea is to help your audience remember what you said and then repeat it.
- Consider using the elevator pitch strategy or condensing your message down into the length of a of an elevator ride.
- Know your audience. What do they already know? How much do you need to fill in? Does your audience need specific data, reviews, or references? What does your audience care about?
- Practice, practice, practice. Write your ideas down and share them with someone close.
- Read your notes out loud and practice using your voice.
- Slow down when speaking. This helps you breath as you’re talking which helps you stay on track with your key points and allows others a moment to join the conversation.
- A spokesperson doesn’t necessarily have to be pitching stories to journalists or making a grand statement at city hall. A spokesperson is simply available to convey a message about the thing they’re advocating for out into the community.
- Start small. Try being a spokesperson with a smaller and more familiar crowd.
- Let your passion and spirit shine!