For a quarter century, 2020 Action, based in Amherst has carried out a big mission: Helping change US environmental and peace-related policies. The group reaches about 3,000 people with a monthly postcard that helps them craft a personalized, effective message to politicians and policy leaders. Membership is $20 a year. In celebration of their 25th year, we recently caught up with Lois Barber, founder and executive director.
Green Blog: You recently revived 2020 Action? Why?
Lois Barber: We revived 2020 Action because more than ever our democracy needs well-informed citizens to regularly communicate with policymakers about important issues. Citizen participation is at the heart of a healthy democracy and it is the best counter balance to the undue influence of big money and corporations on our government.
Here is how it works: Members of 2020 Action receive a simple 2020 postcard each month (by snail mail or email) focused on one critically important U.S. peace or environment issue. Each card has background information on the issue, and recommends one action to take-to send a personal message to a policymaker who is facing a decision on that issue. All the policymaker's contact information is provided. Our members do not send the monthly postcards to their policymakers, but use the information on the cards to compose and send their own personal message, by letter, email, phone, or website, to the decision maker. Membership costs $20 a year. Each postcard features a photograph that celebrates the beauty and wonder of the natural world. The photo is blank on the back so it can be detached from the rest of the card and reused as a postcard. Members receive reports on the effects of their actions.
GB: What do you consider 2020 Action's most successful campaigns in its quarter-century history?
LB: Since 1986, 2020 has sent over 1 million action postcards to its members and followers across the US on a variety of peace and environment issues. We feel we can take some credit for the following changes in our nation's policies: the reduction of nuclear weapons in the world, the US Senate ratification of the Chemical Weapons Treaty, new EPA fuel efficiency standards, cuts in power plant mercury emissions, and reductions in carbon dioxide and fine particulate matter that contribute to soot in the atmosphere.
GB: What is 2020 Action focusing on now?
LB: In general, our center of interest is U.S. military and environment policies. Within that framework we address a variety of issues but keep our focus on what we consider the two greatest threats to our nationís well being: climate change and nuclear catastrophes. Our 2020 Action February postcard addresses the soon-to-be-released Implementation Plan for our nation's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). This is President Obama's opportunity to reduce the number of our nation's nuclear weapons down to 1,000 or less from our current 1,800 deployed weapons; take our nuclear weapons off 'high alert' status; and establish a 'no-first-use' policy regarding our nuclear arsenal. He can do all this without any action needed by Congress. Our March postcard suggests five specific actions to ask the President to take to turn his strong words about combatting climate change into meaningful action.
GB: What are the challenges facing 2020?
LB: The corrupting influence of big money and corporations on our democracy. The best defense against this is to strengthen citizen participation in our democracy. Our challenge is to find Americans who are willing to spend up to 20 minutes each month to turn their concern, care, and outrage into meaningful action. For many people, activism for peace and the environment has been reduced to clicking on online petitions--well meaning, but minimally effective actions. Every policymaker says that personal messages from constituents mean the most. Our nation needs better-informed, engaged citizens.
GB: Where do you see 2020 Action in another 25 years?
LB: Millions of citizens will use the trusted information they receive from 2020 via social media, TV, radio and print to send effective, personal messages to their elected representatives about peace and environment issues. Millions of young citizens will be part of 'Youth 2020' where they will learn how to be effective agents of change and use the power they have as citizens in our democracy. 2020 community groups will work together on local environment and peace projects in their communities across the country.
For more information go here.
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.