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1 Assessing the Political Environment in a Rural Community Nancy Mahannah Mono County Health Department P.O. Box 7307 Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 760-934-7059.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Assessing the Political Environment in a Rural Community Nancy Mahannah Mono County Health Department P.O. Box 7307 Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 760-934-7059."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Assessing the Political Environment in a Rural Community Nancy Mahannah Mono County Health Department P.O. Box 7307 Mammoth Lakes, CA

2 2 Rural organizing is NOT little urban organizing. Assumptions about Rural Policy: What’s true in your community? Conservative, less government, independent, individualist Old boys network controls policy change People take longer to solve a problem No anonymity – everything you do follows you. Personal stakes of campaigns are higher. Everyone knows everyone People may participate because of who else is participating Power relationships are clearer Lawmakers are accessible Power structures vary among Boards Gender differences & lack of diversity exists within power structure Power players may have low formal education Same people sit on a variety of Boards Rural coalitions have multiple networks. Small numbers have big impact. Progress and change depend on the skills of the individual organizer Distance and communication factors are exaggerated Meetings are social, personal relationships are more important. What’s in it for me - people have to know Possible to know when change is occurring

3 3 Data Collection is a Tool in Rural Tobacco Control Policy Advocacy Builds relationships. Creates a strong factual base to grow policy. Is ammunition for specific policies Identifies of knowledge gaps among key players. Identifies fears among community leaders and business owners Gets the ear of local leaders, community groups and the media and increases the importance of the issue in their eyes. Creates an excuse to meet with leaders and community groups or to appear in front of a Board. Creates an educated community and a broad base of support when publicized. Immunizes your community against tobacco industry propaganda. People recognize the propaganda for what it is because they know what is true for their community. Assesses community support and identifies resources. Helps the community own their tobacco problem. Targets areas for further research or allows validation of an issue. Collects baseline data from which to judge progress.

4 4 Collecting Rural Local Data: How? OK not to be scientific Target your samples Key informants are easily identified Face to face or phone to enhance relationship building. Give survey results directly back to those surveyed Tract successes in story form Go for numbers and ease of implementation. Interpersonal Aspects of Assessing the Political Environment: Go out and ask Meet, inform, ask individuals whom you know –Who do you ask? Policy makers Board members Business owners Community leaders –What do you ask? Would you support a policy that does____? What do you see to be the issues around such a policy? Who do you think would support it, who would not and why? Is there anything that could make this policy more optimal? –Delineate what, if anything, is in it for them Minigrant/sponsorship Cessation services Signs Buy in to their projects

5 5 Before you go to a Board Know the group’s dynamics. Know the power structure within the Board. –It doesn’t matter who you know if they are not a power player. –Ask others who have been before. –Observe a few meetings. Readiness for Policy Change: Three Options for Rural Policy After you have built relationships, collected local data, identified local youth concern/involvement, and used media –Traditional Community Development –Ducks in a Row –Rubberstamp

6 6 Health Department Presents Policy to Rural Policy Makers All the ducks are all a row, so just do it. After you have built relationships, collected local data, identified the concern for or involved youth, and educated the community through appropriate rural media and interpersonal channels, you may help the policy makers problem-solve. This requires background work, but is not dependent on a specific coalition. “The following information is available to the Health Dept. [Literature background] This is what the HD has done to work on it. [Community Education] These are the issues [sides of the story pro/con]. This is what others have done to solve the problem [from other counties]. This is what the community wants [local data]. These are the enforcement options. [from other counties] This is what local enforcement agencies will do for this policy [results of local meetings with enforcement]. Here are some options for local solutions to this problem. [give those] This is the recommendation of the HD based on experience and research. [present policy options].”

7 7 Rural Policy: Rubberstamp After you have built relationships, collected local data, identified the concern for or involved youth, and educated the community through appropriate rural media and interpersonal channels: Create voluntary policy through community education Ask the policy question to the target group –Would you support an ordinance which required [a self-service display ban]? Bring the results to the Board of Supervisors as information in the “ducks in a row” format.

8 8 Principles of Rural Tobacco Control: 1.Start with who and what you know. 2.Take advantage of opportunities and community change regardless of the workplan. 3.Don’t wait until it is perfect, just do it. 4.Live tobacco control – Mavin principle. 5.Build a support network. among your tobacco control colleagues

9 ETS Survey (n = 673 households) Smokers Mammoth Lakes 20% Unincorp. Mono County 35% Restaurants Prefer smoke free 85% Don ’ t care11% Bars Prefer smoke free73% Don ’ t care20%

10 and 1998 SF Bars Pre / Post LC Pre LC Smoke Full 15 Considered SF 50% Concerns None 33% Economic Loss 48% Smoke Free 24 Advantages Odor Health Customer appreciation Clean air Affect on food Economic gain 1998 Post LC 100% Compliance Advantages Healthier Smoke/food don’t mix Less cleaning Odor None Disadvantages Trash outside Loss of Business Government interference

11 11 Tobacco Free Park Household Survey Mammoth Lakes N = 195 Response rate = 25% Use rate = 94% TFP preferred 84% Eating/BBQ 79% Ballparks/Dugout 76% Unincorp. Mono N = 139 Response rate = 30% Use rate = 93% + 52 Community leaders TFP preferred 55% Plus TF Playground 31% 86% want TFP restrictions


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