Dinner and social with the federation staff starts at 5:30 p.m., and Rob takes the stage at 6:30. This casual-dress event is free and open to the public, with no registration is required. Of course, you’ll have to pay for your dinner, so come prepared!
encore chatted with Mike Giles, a coastal advocate at the NC Coastal Federation to find out more about the cause.
encore (e): Who is Rob Lamme?
Mike Giles (MG): He is the Coastal Federation’s legislative liaison and lobbyist. His position entails taking the federation’s goals and objectives as they relate to state law to Raleigh, and he gets legislative support for what we try to do to make sure we have a sustainable and healthy coast. He’s been with us about two years. He’s not full-time, he’s part-time; our full-time lobbyist passed away two years ago and Rob has been doing a great job for us since.
e: What will the evening consist of?
MG: Since it’s an election year, Rob is going to talk about what’s changed in the legislature. Of course, over the last year the leadership in the General Assembly has changed for the first time in 100 years and it’s made a difference—especially for people who are concerned about the environment. The leadership is no longer at the coast, it’s in the middle of the state. Again, Republicans are now in control, and they have a different take on environmental concerns than some Democrats do. So it’s a chance for Rob to explain what went on in the legislature, what laws were passed, what didn’t pass, and the good, the bad and the ugly of how things have changed in Raleigh.
e: Why should people attend this event? What can they expect to take away from it?
MG: Well it’s important because the best way to get things done in Raleigh for the coast is through its citizens. Environmental folks like myself, we go to Raleigh or the county commission and they know what we’re going to say. The most important thing for people to understand is that it takes people with power to go and have personal, one-on-one conversations with their legislator. Whether it’s someone they voted for or not, if they don’t hear from them, they don’t know what the citizens want. It’s critically important now that legislators hear from their citizens.
e: So this event is about creating a more educated populace, and giving people the knowledge they need to have an informed discussion with their legislators.
MG: It is. We’re also going to highlight a couple of the debates, like the sea-level rise debate which brought national notoriety to North Carolina (chuckles). And to show just how different the legislators think about environmental concerns.
e: Can you talk a little about the NC Coastal Federation?
MG: It was formed in 1982 by Todd Miller, our current executive director. It’s an organization that tries and helps citizens on issues, problems or ideas that will make for a better, healthy, and more sustainable coast. We do everything from advocacy, to fighting the battles in the legislature and local governments, to providing education for children and adults. We also restore a lot of our coastal systems through planting marsh grasses, water-quality improvements, and putting oysters back in the water. We run the gamut from advocacy to education to preservation. And if you look on our website (www.nccoast.org), there’s a wealth of information on there about upcoming events and what we do.
e: Which leads me right into my last question: Are there any upcoming events you’d like to talk more about?
MG: We have several events, but the big one that we’re celebrating coastwide is National Estuary Day. We have three regions of our coast: a northern region based on the Outer Banks, a central region around Morehead City, and the southern region which is us. On September 22nd each region will be having a public event where people will come out and get engaged and involved in our coasts. The one here in our region is going to be in Onslow County on our clean water reserve, and we’ll be putting oyster shells in the water for our oyster reefs and planting marsh grass.