We are the GOLD Winner for "Local League Awards". Our submittal follows.
The League of Women Voters of Orange County, Florida, took a strong position in support of environmental amendments to the county’s charter on the November 2020 ballot and also led an innovative recycling campaign to wrap up our efforts.
The 2020 Charter Review Commission included League members, and we were thrilled to have two environmental measures – the Right to Clean Water and Save Split Oak Forest amendments – on the ballot. A third amendment adjusted the rules about gathering signatures for citizen-led initiatives, and we supported it as well.
Usually, the League announces endorsements close to an election, but because we were also making a strong push to encourage mail-in and early voting during the pandemic, we issued our endorsements in mid-September. Our support put wind under the wings of the amendments’ organizers, Rights of Nature and Save Split Oak Forest, encouraged other organizations to also jump on board early.
We reached into the Spanish-speaking community by having hundreds of yard signs printed that read “Si! Si! Si!” for each of the three amendments. We put these signs where they would do the most good. This had two-fold benefits: Hispanic-community outreach and charter-amendment support.
Our Communications Committee put together a stellar publicity campaign. Individuals wrote letters to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel, our chapter contributed guest opinion columns, and our co-president voiced our endorsements to the paper’s Editorial Board.
We also used Facebook, other social-media outlets, and our weekly newsletter to announce road rallies throughout the county during the six weeks preceding the election. These rallies were a lot of work, and a lot of fun. We waved our yard signs, and we also had bold VOTE EARLY signs made up for the occasion.
When the votes were counted, the Rights to Clean Water amendment received 89 percent of the vote, and Save Split Oak Forest received 84 percent! The third amendment also passed. We’re not taking full credit for the overwhelming support the amendments received from the community, but there’s no doubt our efforts were pivotal in the degree of success that was achieved.
After the election, the Orange County League saw an additional opportunity to do some good. Our Natural Resources Committee worked with the City of Winter Park, the City of Orlando, Orange County government, IDEAS for Us, and the EcoStrategies Group to turn discarded election signs into an alternative energy source.
For two weeks, our campaign encouraged residents, candidates, and political parties to deliver their plastic yard signs to collection locations around the county with a goal of gathering a ton of signs. This initiative prevented a mountain of signs from going to the dump. Instead, they were transported to NuCycle Energy, which transformed them from bulky discarded plastic into NuCycle’s Enviro Fuelcubes. The Fuelcubes are sold to Cemex, a regional cement manufacturer, where they are used to generate electricity, replacing coal as a cleaner energy source.
At the conclusion of the drive, over 10,000 signs (two tons) were repurposed instead of being trashed!