If done right, policy should be rooted in the needs of real people and their experiences. But the current system fails on many levels. The state legislative process can be overwhelming, scary and divisive. It’s confusing to find out who our legislators are and leaving public comment on social media can unleash negativity.
This is why Bhavini Patel of Pittsburgh has created Be the Change, a free, nonpartisan platform to connect constituents with their state legislators.
“I believe elected officials enter into public service because they care about the well-being of their neighbors,” Patel said. “Legislators want to hear what you have to say. That’s why I ran for elected office. I knocked on doors and had numerous conversations with people from all walks of life. The one consistent theme that stuck with me was that people are the experts of their neighborhoods. They’re aware of the challenges and often have insights that lead us to stronger and healthier communities. We just need better systems built with kindness that can connect our voices to policymakers.”
Be the Change was created with three simple goals in mind: make legislative advocacy accessible, foster healthy civic dialogue and build a welcoming community for all.
This month, State Senator Judy Schwank (D-11th district) joined the platform.
“I make it a point to be available to my constituents,” Schwank said. “I welcomed the opportunity to join a platform that strives to make that process even easier.”
On Be the Change, users can advocate for legislation, ask questions, or share details on poor air quality, lack of public transportation, unemployment concerns, isolated food deserts and more. There is also a public feed to see what nearby Community Causes are gaining traction and learn about various issues neighbors are advocating. Members can’t reply to others posts—they can only upvote and downvote posts by others.