There I was. A thirty-five year- old mother of two, set to go to the NM State Capitol the next day, wailing to my mother like a little girl. “I don’t know where to go!” “What do I wear?” “What if I say the wrong thing?” “What do I dooooooooo?!” (Can’t you just hear the whine storm?)
Today, I look back and laugh at myself, but I was seriously scared.
Hopefully, these tips will help you be more informed and comfortable going to the Roundhouse than I was.
Before you go
Start by learning who your State Representative and Senator are using the Secretary of State’s website (www.sos.state.nm.us/). Follow the links under “Voter Information” to “Find My Voter Registration.” Answer the questions and the site will give you a list of all the districts in which you are registered to vote.
Take that information to the Legislature’s website (https://www.nmlegis.gov/), and follow the header link for “Legislators.” You should be given contact information for your Representative and Senator.
With your legislators’ contact information, you can call their offices and request that your student (age 10+) be an honorary page for the day. As the 2018 Session is only 30 days, be sure to call at the beginning of the Session to set this up.
Register for CAPE at the Capitol. CAPE does excellent work, making sure homeschool families are oriented to the day’s activities, and will notify you by email of events once you are registered.
This can be tough. There are few available parking meters around the Capitol for the Session, and the parking garage (which is free) fills very quickly. There is some parking to the east of the old PERA building off Paseo de Peralta, and some off-street parking in surrounding neighborhoods. Plan plenty of time for parking and walking to the Capitol building.
What do we wear?
Dress neatly. Don’t spend money on clothes for going to the Roundhouse. Avoid holey jeans and t-shirts. If you would wear it to church, it should be acceptable at the Capitol. Above all, wear comfortable shoes!
Can we take food with us?
Yes! Feel free to bring lunch and snacks. If it’s a gorgeous day, you can picnic on the lawn, or sit on the floor or benches in the walkway to the North Annex. There’s a coffee shop on the 2nd (ground) floor where you can buy drinks, snacks, or a meal for reasonable prices, and there are many restaurants surrounding the Capitol.
When you arrive
As you enter the Roundhouse, note your surroundings. Are you going up steps? That means you’re on the west side of the building. Are you walking a long sidewalk, bordered by trees? That’s the east side. Take a picture of your entrance to help you remember. That will help at the end of the day, too, when you need to get back to your car.
If you’re meeting others, suggest meeting them at “The Buffalo.” It’s a delightful sculpture on the 3rd floor, and is hard to miss.
Enjoy your day!
Visit your legislators’ offices. Sit in the galleries and watch the House and the Senate in action. Visit a committee hearing; this is where the work of amending and improving bills takes place and can be very educational.
Take a free tour of the Roundhouse with a trained docent, who will show you the vast array of artwork, all by NM artists, that is a state treasure.
Relax. You can do this! It will be a memorable day for the entire family with no need for a whine storm.
To register for CAPE at the Capitol goto www.cape-nm.org/events-convention/cape-at-the-capitol/