Finding Common Ground
by Georgia Conservancy Advocacy Director Leah Dixon
Given our position as a statewide conservation organization, the Georgia Conservancy takes a pragmatic approach to policy and one that incorporates our commitment to finding common ground.
When framing a conservation argument, part of our strategy is to gather information from as many sources as possible. We have found that we cannot frame our arguments solely on the benefits of protecting our natural resources. We must often show the economic value in taking conservation-minded stances, which resonates with some who may not be as well-versed on our issues.
Six years ago, when I joined the Georgia Conservancy’s advocacy team, I was just out of an internship as a legislative aide in the Georgia House of Representatives. I had a general understanding of the world of politics, but I now realize that full immersion is required to gain a holistic understanding of the political process. Nuances, relationships and history all play a role at the Capitol and in the legislative process. There is not a handbook to bill passage or defeat.
Every year, the second Monday in January marks the beginning of the legislative session. The first legislative day radiates the same feelings of the first day of school. Everyone has been at home with their families and other job responsibilities. Legislators, staffers and lobbyists enter the Gold Dome with fresh faces and a reinvigorated outlook toward the issues they are going to tackle that year. The first week is a chance to catch up with old friends and begin working your agenda for many weeks ahead.
As the legislative session progresses, you know that there will be early mornings that turn into long nights, often followed by another early morning. You will be on your feet on the marble floors all day working the ropes, moving from chamber to chamber, tracking down legislators in hopes of securing votes. A good, comfortable pair of shoes is important for these days. The tides are ever changing at the General Assembly and thinking on your feet becomes a necessary skill.
The Capitol becomes your office for the legislative session’s forty days. As you work your way through the crowds, excitement, and ultimate stress of the halls, you have to stop sometimes and take a moment to appreciate the architecture, the history, and the importance of this majestic building. I also often stop myself and remember the importance of the Georgia Conservancy’s work in this space. It is a privilege to represent and give our natural resources a voice in the state where I grew up. It is something that the Georgia Conservancy has done consistently and successfully, and I am honored to be a part of something so special.
Learn more about the Georgia Conservancy's Advocacy Program
Georgia Conservancy Advocacy Director and Peachtree City native Leah Dixon coordinates our advocacy efforts throughout the year and is the voice of the Georgia Conservancy at the State Capitol during the Legislative Session. To contact Leah, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.