2P 2014: Letters Can Change the World

Another Subversive Comment by Duncan, via Flickr
Another Subversive Comment by Duncan, via Flickr

Sometimes, we forget the impact the average person can have on events. Sometimes, it seems that only those with the power to make important decisions can actually change the way things work.

Thankfully, this isn’t true.

Did you know that Canada’s copyright law was changed because thousands of average Canadians wrote letters to our government? Before these letters, our copyright laws were so restrictive that, for example, uploading a video featuring almost any content made by someone else was illegal unless you had their written permission (or if they had waived permission through Creative Commons licensing). This includes:

  • video game footage
  • a school project featuring a song by your favourite artist
  • a short clip (say, 3 seconds or less) from a movie
  • any kind of mash up
  • a “still” of an image from a Google search

Many Canadians wrote our government asking for changes to Canadian copyright laws. In fact, the response was so overwhelming that the government completely revamped our laws.

What does this have to do with your letter writing? Everything.

Imagine that you could change any policy/rule created by an authority (your teacher, your principal, your school, your employer, or your government). Write a letter in which you ask the authority to change this policy/rule. Some things to consider:

  • Tone matters:  you need to be respectful if you want the authority to change. Remember that the authority is under no obligation to change its rules; name-calling or blaming will not make you any friends.
  • Structure matters: yesterday, we worked with a two paragraph (basic problem/action step) letter.  Today, we will write a 3 paragraph letter featuring
    1. the basic problem
    2. the facts and details (this will take some research…you may use the devices at your disposal)
    3. the action step
  • Interest matters: Chose an argument that matters to you. Remember: this is your chance to change things…

    If you are looking for a topic, consider watching this interactive documentary called The Shirt on Your Back





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