Creating a voice for the people

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By Kirstie Kipfmiller
Lansing Star staff writer

Six years ago, JoAnne Bock became very upset about a personal issue. When she tried contacting a state representative with her concern, she never received a response. After months of waiting, she decided it was time to take matters into her own hands. It was her time to be heard.

“One of our problems is that the news focuses on big things,” said Bock, 54 of Lansing. “What happens to our community issues?”

Here Bock stands next to her US ACTS! display

Bock’s solution was to create an organization that deals with concerns, big and small, of individual people. As a working insurance agent and mother of six, Bock soon became the founder of US ACTS! Institute. One of the organization’s goals is to address the concerns with a hands-on approach so that everyone can have their thoughts, opinions and voice heard.

“Some people don’t have a unified voice when there are different complaints,” said US ACTS! volunteer John Hopkins, 32. “There are certain things that aren’t going to fit under general issues. Something like US ACTS! can give people a unified voice.”

Another one of her main goals is to give state representatives a clear and actual consensus of the American people. Bock has developed her own system.

“We need an independent organization, US ACTS!, to develop that (system) for us,” said Bock. “We don’t want it to be the government controlling it because then you’re talking about large amounts of bureaucracy. We want it independent.”

Bock plans on starting in Michigan by making Lansing the national headquarters of US ACTS!.

“Lansing needs something like this,” said Bock. “It will help the community a lot. It would be good to have here.”

Another main focus of US ACTS! is to help people understand specific issues and the wording on ballots.

“We need some way of clarifying and cleaning up the issues,” said Bock.

Bock’s solution is a debate plan where individuals will discuss and understand the pros and cons of specific issues. Bock plans on running the debate like a game show giving groups points based on how well the issue is presented. Ideally, the program will be nationally televised so that the issue will be absolutely clear and explained to as many people as possible. This will also give the debating individuals the opportunity to become nationally recognized.  This coverage could then branch off to a potential election candidate.

“We have trillionaires that are deciding a lot of things,” said Bock. “We have people who make it into elections not based upon idea, but because they have a lot of money, and they can get the publicity they need. We are losing our America.”

If a group wins the debate, they can score enough points to come back and debate again. The further they go, the more recognition their issue will receive. At the very end of the debate, the issue will be voted on. Bock plans to hold weekly voting.

“Once we have the votes in, we can then take that to the press, we can take that to our representatives, we can take that to industry. We can use those numbers to create power. There’s power in numbers.”

Bock plans on getting in contact with television networks, such as CBS, and continuing to travel to big cities to talk to, recruit and educate individuals. With the idea originating in Oregon, Bock has already taken her ambitions to Utah, Kansas, and Michigan. Along the way, she has spoken with many individuals such as state representatives, mayors, governors, senators, deans of different colleges, newspapers and television stations. If people understand the purpose and goals of the organization, they are more likely to support her. Bock plans to continue building in Michigan and eventually become wide spread.

Bock holds meetings every week with the next meeting scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27. The first debate is scheduled for January 2012. For further information, please visit the US ACTS! website here.

“This is for them,” said Bock. “This is an opportunity for them to change the face of America. If they become members and vote, they can be counted.”

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