Great question! I would say that we are confident that our groups will be participating in direct local actions and policies and that it is totally fine to do so provided you are not a) endorsing specific candidates or b) failing to disclose significant conflicts of interest. The latter would be rare but could be an instance where a group is pushing for council to approve a specific subdivision application without disclosing that the president of the group is the owner of the property.
We showcased what responsible policies would look like in our local election (and even pushed for a more extreme version of change so that the "moderating position" of our main contenders in the race would be closer to acceptable. We wanted to be loud and clear that there's a massive need for significant changes to occur and this gave room for our (now) mayor and members of his team to respond to NIMBYs by saying, "Hey, look, you're not the only one whose views we have to take into account - you should see what DelPOP is asking us for - we're just being reasonable by finding common ground here." In the absence of DelPOP, that's a much harder conversation for elected officials to have when they confront the cranky folks who say, "No one is asking for you to take action to remove parking, we want more parking".
So yes, participating in the local political process is totally fine provided that you don't run afoul of local campaign laws and the like.
If you eventually organize, you'll want to decide if you are a 501c3 or 501c4 when you start receiving donations and acting in the community. But for now, just actively advocating for good policy and gently pushing back on bad policy is totally within the realm of acceptable activities.
Hope this helps!
Whether we function as an advocacy organization or just a discussion forum for local organizations and individuals who are involved in such advocacy has a bearing on how we will organize our group.
Is it appropriate for our Local Conversation to engage in direct-action policy advocacy using the Strong Towns [Local Conversation group] name? Are there any limitations on what we can advocate for? Would the above related causes to the Strong Towns mission be appropriate?
- Housing affordability
- Climate action
- Transit and active transportation activism, land-use reform, and reducing car dependency
- Complete Streets and Vision Zero