Like pretty much everything in the last 12 months, it wasn't supposed to happen this way.
The Planetary Society's Day of Action usually brings members of the Society face-to-face with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. It is the largest space advocacy event of its kind, where the participants are overwhelmingly regular people who love space.
In COVID times, however, both traveling and doing anything "face-to-face" has to be avoided. As such, the Day of Action went fully virtual for 2021.
In the end, 145 members from 30 states participated in a day's worth of meetings from their homes around the country. But even without travel, this was not an easy commitment.
Participants spent weeks preparing for the Day of Action, reading up on key policy issues in planetary exploration and planetary defense. They reviewed the latest economic impact reports, National Academies reports, and public polling data. They prepared detailed reports on their district representatives. And they spent more than 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon laying out detailed meeting strategies with their fellow Society members.
The meetings themselves were virtual, through now-ubiquitous online video conferencing software.
In between meetings, Society members found ways to lighten the mood, sharing their Day of Action selfies with their participants via our online Slack channels.
In addition to the face-to-virtual-face meetings, Society members and supporters around the country sent more than a thousand messages to Congress in support of their fellow members.
Our members in Canada also took action to support space, submitting letters of support following up on a recent statement submitted to the Canadian Space Agency by The Planetary Society.
Thousands more space advocates around the world also took part in a coordinated effort to share key advocacy messages on planetary defense, planetary exploration, and the search for life.
The Day of Action represents a major effort by The Planetary Society to empower our members to advance space science and exploration. It is nothing short of inspiring to see people from around the country come together and put in the work to build political support for a better future.