Becoming an advocate to change the landscape

May 4, 2021
by Jacoby Gonzales, Tulsa, OK

I am passionate about revitalizing space – turning an area like an empty parking lot into an amenity that the community can use, like a beautiful park. It’s my day job as a landscape designer pursuing licensure in landscape architecture, and it also fuels my passion for advocacy. As an advocate, instead of designing for developers, I get to talk to policymakers about what shapes the design of communities.

During the first 100 days of the new Congress, my RESULTS group in Oklahoma has been pretty ambitious. We are a new and small group, but we have met with all our members of Congress – both of our senators and both of our representatives. We wanted to get our message through quickly at the beginning of the year so we can build on those relationships later. It’s been motivating to see the work of all the other advocates during RESULTS’ First 100 Days Campaign. We’ve accomplished so much!

Most of our calls have been with congressional aides, and we’ve really had some fruitful conversations. We were also able to meet personally with both Rep. Hern and Rep. Bice over video conference calls. It’s always nice to see the member of Congress pop in when they’re available. One time Rep. Bice was actually in another conference call, and called us on her phone to say, “Hey, so sorry I can’t join your meeting, but I really wanted to be here.” It was a really nice gesture for her to take the time out to say hello.

Advocacy isn’t as daunting as a lot of people think it is. At the end of the day, it’s just talking to someone who’s another human being. It doesn’t have to be really formal or really stressful. You’re just having a conversation with somebody, and these conversations can change the policy landscape a lot more than just your everyday coffee shop conversation. RESULTS makes it easy to do this kind of advocacy. And these are discussions that can change people’s lives, that can change your own life.

As a landscape designer, I want to be able to design spaces people can enjoy that will build on existing communities in a positive way. The profession of landscape architecture is starting to realize that sometimes new spaces are actually vehicles for gentrification and can set in motion the destruction of the communities we designed them for. I joined RESULTS to see how I could combat that from a different angle through working on housing policies.

Advocacy is a powerful way to approach problems like these. When we push for changes to policies, our impact is often multiplied many times over. That’s why I’m excited to be volunteering with RESULTS.

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