Ecologistics presents: EMPOWER.SLO
a six-week course in participatory citizenship

Wednesday nights
May 17-June 21
6:30 to 8:30 pm
Whole Foods Community Room
1531 Froom Ranch Way, San Luis Obispo

Right now many Americans are frustrated by the brokenness they see around them and believe that a better world is possible.  Our goal is to give you the tools to build a just and sustainable future.  This course will provide confidence and empower you to participate as an active citizen in your community, at whatever level you choose.  Exercising the right to vote is only the start – there is much more to a democracy.  In these challenging times, where environmental and social gains made over decades are threatened, every citizen must become involved and be as effective as possible.

For six weeks you will meet with other engaged community members who want to learn how to be the change they want to see in the world.  You will develop new friendships and form alliances that will add to the skills you will be learning.  Graduates will receive a Certificate of Achievement upon completion of the program and will be invited to enroll in a future advanced course of study.

Informed citizens are people who are willing to become involved, to become better informed, to express their views, and to listen to and respect the views of others.  No lesser set of credentials qualifies one for participation in the issues that mean so much to us all.

Steve Dennis
Natural Resources and the Informed Citizen


Your Program and Instructors

May 17 – Understanding the Process for Making Law

You will learn the process for making state and local laws – how legislation and ordinances are introduced, lobbied, opposed and challenged.

Your Instructor:  Vern Goehring

Vern is a registered policy advocacy professional in California, with more than 35 years of government management and policy experience. He served in a variety of executive and management positions, including legislative advocate for both Caltrans and the Department of Fish & Wildlife. He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, in Economics and has completed graduate studies in Government Administration at Cal State, Sacramento.

He has led classes and participated in many panel sessions on the legislative process and how to engage in legislative grassroots lobbying. He served a term as the California Senate appointee to the Veterinary Medical Board, which is responsible for licensing veterinarians and enforcing the State’s veterinary medical practice laws.  Since 1997, Vern has consulted with clients focused on natural resource conservation, state budget appropriations, fish and wildlife, natural lands acquisition, consumer protection, transportation, and state administrative procedures.

May 24 – Identifying Key Local Agencies and Elected Officials

The presentation will focus on effective advocacy for organizations and agencies.  We will begin by a brief discussion of the legislative process: examining how policy issues are formed, how to advocate for an issue to become relevant to a policy agenda and how to best determine which “venue” or level of government to champion a policy recommendation.  Lastly, we will discuss best practices for meeting with Staff/a Legislator, testifying at a committee and maintaining a relationship with your local elected officials.

Your instructor:  Annie Aguiñiga, Assistant District Director for State Senator William Monning

Annie Aguiniga was born and raised in San Luis Obispo.  After graduating from San Luis Obispo High School, she received her degree from UC Santa Cruz in Modern English Literature and Legal Studies.  During her studies at UCSC, she worked for an environmental activist organization and researched the crossover between Critical Race Theory and Environmental Sustainability.  Her interest in the environment led her to attending Cal Poly to receive her Master’s in Public Policy, specializing in Environmental Policy and Social Movements.  Since receiving her MPP in 2014, she now works as Assistant District Director for State Senator and Senate Majority Leader, the Honorable Bill Monning.

May 31 – Developing Effective Listening and Discussion Techniques

Moving a conversation from conflict to consensus is no easy feat, but can be done.  This workshop will give a brief overview of the ways people communicate and how to find commonalities between diverse groups, ideologies, beliefs, and values can be achieved to develop consensus.  The workshop will expose participants to ideas such as “community of interest”, “sense of place”, and the difference between “values vs. interests”.  These principles are taken from the work of Bob Chadwick, author of Finding New Ground – Beyond Conflict to Consensus.

Your instructor: Devin Best, Executive Director of the Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District. 

Devin has a degree in Ethnobotany from Humboldt State University. He started his career working in the Americorps Watershed Stewards Project in Northern California.  Following his time in Northern California, he moved back to San Luis Obispo County and worked for the California Conservation Corps as a GIS Supervisor and then for the California Department of Fish Wildlife as an Environmental Specialist.  He continued to build upon his experience in natural resource management and biological population monitoring and modeling in the Pacific Northwest, as well as developing his skills in watershed restoration, permit coordination, and non-profit leadership.  Devin is a strong advocate for community stewardship, collaboration, and ecological restoration.

June 7 – Delivering Effective Public Comment

Lisa Kawamura will lead a workshop teaching the basic skills on how to construct and present a short impromptu speech focusing on public comment. Participants will learn how to brainstorm, organize and perform a short persuasive speech through lecture and small group work.

Your instructor: Lisa Kawamura. 

Lisa Kawamura is a 19-year faculty member in the Communication Studies Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Ms Kawamura’s teaching load at Cal Poly has included Public Speaking, Performance of Literature, Argumentation and Advocacy, Forensics, and Critical Thinking. Ms Kawamura spent the first 9 years coaching policy debate and teaching and since retiring from coaching debate, Ms Kawamura has continued to work on performance projects, serves as the advisor to the Cal Poly UNICEF Club, serves on the Executive Board of the California Faculty Association, San Luis Obispo Chapter, is a mentor for the BEACoN Mentoring Program and serves as the secretary on the Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Planning Committee.

June 14 – Writing Effective Letters

Learn how to write an effective letter to the Editor and to your member of Congress to communicate your passion about an issue; discover the power and importance of writing teams.

Your instructor: Sandy Simon.

Sandy has lived in San Luis Obispo since 1974 and began volunteering with Citizens’ Climate Lobby in 2012. She was a group leader in the CCL-SLO chapter for two years, during which time she started her chapter’s writing team and served on the Steering Committee. In 2015, Sandy began working with National CCL, co-leading the Print Media Action Team, answering Help Desk questions, writing articles for their volunteer website, and heading the national municipal resolutions project.   Prior to her involvement in CCL, Sandy worked as a law office manager and paralegal for 38 years. She also served as Executive Director of the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association and started their Alternative Resolutions Section. In 1991, Sandy formed a nonprofit to create the first mediation center on the Central Coast. In addition to a career in law office management, Sandy has maintained a coaching practice since 1998 and is a certified professional coach. She also volunteers with the national radio program, PRI’s Living on Earth, and is on the editorial board of the Santa Lucia chapter of the Sierra Club.

June 21 – Strategies for Community Organizing

This workshop will focus on critical aspects of grassroots organizing. We will share tips learned from the successes of the Women’s March movement, and provide time for both learning and practice. Topics will include building a people-driven movement, use of social media, and broadening the base of support. We will share information about tools for organizers as well as tools for organizing.

Your instructors: Dawn Addis and Andrea Chmelik. 

Dawn Addis is a founder of the Women’s March San Luis Obispo, and a social justice advocate.  After a lifetime of quiet activism, Ms. Addis boldly stepped into the spotlight, organizing thousands in peaceful protest on Jan. 21. To do this she leveraged her experience in leadership, messaging, public speaking, and collaboration. For these efforts, Ms. Addis was recently named California’s 24th Congressional Woman of the Year. Ms. Addis looks forward to sharing her passion and skills to help you live into your potential as a community organizer.

Andrea Chmelik is the Women’s March SLO social media manager and a writer. As an immigrant from a post-communistic country, she is well aware of the importance of one’s voice, social activism and community engagement. Ms. Chmelik adeptly utilizes social media for community organizing, through a focus on positive messaging and optimism in the age of instant backlash. She is also an expert on working with local media. Ms. Chmelik is excited to help you master the art of grassroots organizing!

Cost: $60 per person for all six workshops and all materials

Class size limited to the first 25 people who register

Please complete the Application below and send your check to:

Ecologistics, Inc.
4349 Old Santa Fe Road #6
San Luis Obispo, CA  93401

If you would prefer to pay by credit or debit card, call (805) 548-0597 or email stacey@ecologistics.org

Advanced class for NGO leaders and graduates of this program coming this fall.

Empower.SLO Application

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