Jimmy Tingle, a comedian from Massachusetts, shows how easy it is to canvass for a political campaign.
Jimmy Tingle, a comedian from Massachusetts, shows how easy it is to canvass for a political campaign.
This is a great video from OSPIRG that goes through their Ag Subsidies campaign, outlining the problem, solution, and what they are doing to stop Congress from subsidizing high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients in junk food. Part of their campaign includes going door-to-door across the state, and along with other state PIRGs across the country, to educate the public and build up support. In the first year they talked to over 800,000 Americans about this campaign.
PRLog recently posted an article about a group of canvassers with Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. in New York. The article is about the experience of the average canvasser, and the resounding message is that the canvassers are able to stay positive and find success despite the challenges of the job. The canvassers talk about how they maintain a positive attitude even when people don’t stop to talk to them, and also about some of the skills they use to engage people.
Grassroots Campaigns, Inc: Have Clipboard, Will
PRLog—July 27, 2012
Katie Golieb assumed her ready position in the middle of a Park Slope sidewalk: wide stance, hips swaying, clipboard cradled in her right arm. An approaching woman in heels and a skirt, seeing that she had been marked, quickened her step, but not before Ms. Golieb called out to her.
“Excuse me, ma’am, do you have a minute for the A.C.L.U.?
“I’m working,” the woman said as she brushed past.
“Oh, O.K.,” Ms. Golieb replies cheerfully.
“Good luck!” the woman yelled, now in the clear.
It is the twilight of the canvassing season. Soon the college students, like Ms. Golieb, who bolster the summer ranks of activist groups like Greenpeace and the Human Rights Campaign will return to school.
The diminished presence of canvassers will surely delight those New Yorkers who have become expert at tracing wide arcs of avoidance on the city’s sidewalks.
But Ms. Golieb, who attends Oberlin College, still has a few shifts left.
One recent afternoon, she and three other canvassers for the American Civil Liberties Union stationed themselves along Seventh Avenue between Union and President Streets. There, hundreds of times a day, they criticize the Bush administration’s stance on habeas corpus and urge passers-by the join the organization and donate the recommended $30 a month.
“You’ve got to tell yourself that people are busy, they do have things to do,” said Alex Waite, a 25-year-old field manager for Grassroots Campaigns, the consulting firm hired by the A.C.L.U. to do the canvassing.
But Mr. Waite, a gregarious politics buff, knows there are ways to spot the people who will talk.
Eye contact is key. An individual is a better bet than a pair. People at the front or rear of a group are far more likely to respond than those buried in the middle. “If you have a big group and you just yell out in general,” Mr. Waite said, “they’re all going to pretend you’re talking to someone else.”
At one point, a cluster of canvassers for the New York Public Interest Research Group, in matching T-shirts, walked by.
“Hey, guys!” Mr. Waite said.
“We’ve got clipboards, too!” a member of the group called out, as they marched on without stopping.
The Denver Post recently published an article by a young woman who works for the American Civil Liberties Union about why she goes door-to-door to register voters. With the election coming up (and the voter registration deadline coming even faster) it seemed important to post this article to remind people about the importance of getting involved in our political process—whether that is going out canvassing and registering voters yourself, or simply by going out and voting to make sure your voice is heard.
POSTED: 07/17/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
By Rosalie Wilmot
I have been a political canvasser for more than a year now. I've toiled under the sweltering summer sun while walking blocks and blocks in search of young people who need to be registered.
I do this not because of a promise of compensation, but rather because I believe that every person deserves the opportunity to participate. I do it because I remember that the day I was registered to vote, I was given something far more important than a piece of yellow paper.
I was given a voice.
That's why this year, I am especially concerned about my generation turning out at the polls and making their mark on history. I have watched as voter photo identification bills and measures limiting same-day registration have passed across the nation and large percentages of the population have been excluded from the most fundamental right we all share, the right to vote. I am worried because I know that these measures make it more difficult for young voices to be heard. I know that these "protections" largely make it more difficult for disenfranchised people to participate.
The consequences of inaction can be seen in our own communities. They are manifested in complacency and a disbelief that our voices even matter. As a young voter, I remember my own process of discovery.
Becoming a new voter is sort of like being reborn. You register and then wait impatiently for your ballot to arrive. You begin to pay closer attention when you hear of bills being introduced in the legislature.
You begin to truly care about the democratic process. When your ballot finally arrives by mail, you are mostly ready. You unfold it neatly and pull out a fresh ballpoint pen. You carefully fill in the little circles and watch the ink dry. When you stick it in the mail — like a Christmas wish list to Santa — you have completed something worth bragging about.
You have acted as a citizen.
This year in Denver, there are living signs that the system itself is in need of care. Secretary of State Scott Gessler wants to keep "inactive" voters from being sent mail ballots. For many Coloradans, missing one election in the past may cost them the ability to participate in future elections.
If you did not participate in the last general election, you will be labeled an "inactive" voter and might not receive a mail ballot.
However, despite these attempts at voter suppression, there are also indicators of support for the democratic process. This year, the 150 polling places around Denver will be complemented by 13 voting centers with drive-up, drop-off service, along with 10 secure ballot drop boxes with 24-hour accessibility. Posters are being hung in homeless shelters, and iPad apps have been developed to increase accessibility for seniors.
When we participate in our community and focus on issues, we do have the power to create change. It begins with a decision to participate — and is dependent on policies that make participation possible.
This election, be ready.
Visit GoVoteColorado.com to check your status. If you have moved since the last time you registered, you must re-register. Don't take it for granted; visit the website to make certain.
The registration deadline for the Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 9. If you are registering close to the deadline at any location besides the Denver Elections Division, make sure they validate your registration with a date and time stamp.
I have hope for democracy, which is why I educate and prepare myself for upcoming elections. I pull on my volunteer shirt and I set up a table to register voters. I talk to young people. I try to hear their vast perspectives.
I remind myself, as well as others, that our vote requires follow-up action and that we are the true watchdogs of our own freedoms. Beyond our own acts as citizens, we also desperately need elected officials who seek to expand opportunities, rather than suppress them.
Colorado: Let people vote.
Our voices are ready to be heard.
Rosalie Wilmot of Denver is a 2012 graduate of the University of Denver and a media intern at the ACLU of Colorado.
Sofie, who has canvassed with the Fund for the past four summers in Massachusetts, going door-to-door and talking to folks about updating the state’s Bottle Bill, posted a tweet recently about how much she appreciates the experience she has had working on this cause. Sofie wrote:
"I'm so grateful to MASSPIRG and the Fund for giving me the opportunity to go door to door for 4 summers on this issue and testify in front of the legislature last summer ... I LOVE YOU PIRG, LET'S KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT."
The Concord Insider, a publication of the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, ran a glowing feature recently on their local Fund for the Public Interest canvass office. The article focuses a lot on the atmosphere of an office and what motivates its staff, with a cute bit about the start of a canvasser's day:
"Back in the office on Friday, half-drunk Dunkin' Donuts coffee cups mix in with the banter of a crew just getting into the heartbeat of a new day. Like in most offices, people gather in groups, making small talk and entering into the work culture. Unlike most offices, people are exchanging ideas, passions, high fives - while the Red Hot Chili Peppers urge them on from the boom box."
And a nice plug for the office's campaign work:
"The fund has had great success in actually changing laws and making an impact.
A list of accomplishments might look like this: Protect Lake Sunapee from storm runoff, check. Protect the Great Bay Estuary with research and recommended action plans, check. Raise money to fight changes in the Clean Water Act that leave New Hampshire's streams and lakes open to unlimited dumping of toxins, check. Stop childhood obesity in its tracks - well, working on it."
Well-deserved recognition guys!
Read the full story here.
If you've traveled to or through Colorado by air prior to June, you might have noticed that Denver International Airport was a little different than others. Along with food courts and newstands, the common space was open to canvassers. On the way to baggage claim, travelers often saw representatives from groups like Environment Colorado, Planned Parenthood or ACLU asking for a minute of their time.
Surely some found it a bother, but it was pretty great to see such a thriving marketplace of ideas right in the middle of a major hub of national travel. Sadly, in June DIA decided to ban canvassing. It was an unfortunate decision, but along the way it was great to see people who support canvassing stick up for the practice in the form of several public comments.
We came across one such comment from Ken Ward, who's been working for 30 years on environmental issues for several high-profile groups, including as deputy executive director for Greenpeace USA. Here's what he had to say (it's pretty great):
Dear Mr. Hagerty,
Among major US airports, there are really only a handful which stand out. If you aren't paying attention, it's possible to land at an O'Hare, Newark or Dallas-Forth Worth and find oneself walking down the concourse, passing GAPs and McDonalds, with only advertising to tell you where you are ("Phoenix: We Mean Business!").
But Denver is different. First, there's the mountains, of course. Then there's the astonishing design of Denver International, with its echos of the Rockies and pioneer tents; nifty in the day, spectacular at night. I might quibble a bit with the marketing decisions – Denver ought to follow Portland's lead, choosing local Powell's Used Books instead of one more Barnes and Noble – but the cool high speed people mover quickly reminds you it's Denver.
Now I'm not going to argue that I'm always looking forward to being hit up by some bushy-tailed college kid, eager to talk about saving the chub or some such, after a long and exhausting flight, and I'll be the first to say that I often wave 'em away without compunction. But here's the thing, the fact that Denver does have it's bushy-tailed, generally young, concerned folks out at the airport, means that Denver stands out from most all the rest of major metropolitan airports in the nation – in addition, of course, to its spectacular design and backdrop – by demonstrating an enthusiasm for civic action that is utterly absent elsewhere. It's possible to fly through most major airports and unless one troubles to buy the local paper, never receive a single impression that people live there. Whether you listen to their pitch or wave 'em away, the do-gooders greeting you in Denver let you know where you are: a place where community matters are debated, public mindedness is respected, and democracy remains vital.
I understand that Denver International Airport is considering regulations that would restrict such activity. Though I'm sure the arguments for doing so, in terms of security, comfort, cost and ease of travel, are strong, please consider the less obvious, but nonetheless powerful case that by treating its airport as the public space it truly is, Denver presents to travelers a robust civic spirit like no other major city.
I thank you for your attention.
We were sad to see those canvassers go, but what a great sentiment. And rest assured, those bushy-tailed concerned folks are still out there fighting the good fight.
Ken Ward is a climate campaigner and carpenter with thirty years of experience (jeez!). He is co-founder of the Jamaica Plain Green House and was recently hired as Director of the Apeiron Institute for Sustainability.
A campaign veteran and web columnist for Canada's The Globe and Mail recently offered frank advice to those running for public office: Want to win? Knock on doors.
He cites a prominent Yale study that compared the effectiveness of different voter outreach methods in a 1998 New Haven, Connecticut election. Their findings? Mailings and phone calls had little or no impact on voter turnout. Canvassing did. In fact, face-to-face outreach increased turnout substantially, while calls had no impact and mail had a slight impact. Steele writes:
So the formula is simple.
If you want to win an election, first you have to find and energize a cadre of people who will carry your message. They have to be motivated to knock on doors, not just once or twice but several times a week....
The Obama campaign did a lot of things right.
The thing they did best – and even their top people say this – is motivate their supporters to go out and talk to their neighbours.
They spent their money on a door-to-door ground game of volunteer mobilization, not on splashy TV ads or robo-calls.
So if you care about politics, get off this website and go knock on some doors.
The Yale study took it a step further and hypothesized that sinking voter turnout can be tied to less overall personal involvement and a decline in face-to-face political activism. Sage advice from Mr. Steele as the 2012 election comes barreling our way.
Meshawn is a veteran of canvass offices across the country, and recently took on a key role at the great preservation nonprofit, Friends of the Chicago River. Canvassing Works is proud to call her a friend, and she was kind enough to share some insight into how canvassing influenced her career:
"When I first started canvassing for the Fund for the Public Interest right after college, I thought I wouldn't last long. After two weeks though, I considered myself an expert canvasser - training new staff and training to become a leader in the office. A month later we won our campaign and I never turned back. Canvassing was one of the most challenging things I've done, and one of the most rewarding. I started doing it as just temporary work while I was job hunting, but more than 10 years later I'm still working on these important issues that I first got into as a canvasser. I'm still using what I learned."
Meshawn Ayala is the Constituency Relations Director at Friends of the Chicago River, a nonprofit that works to preserve and protect the health and vitality of the Chicago River. At Friends, Meshawn focuses on organizational development through building coalitions, doing community outreach, and expanding social media. She is currently working on a campaign to remove two of the oldest dams on the North Branch of the Chicago River.
Her career with the Fund started in 1999 as a canvasser in Berkeley, CA, where she thought she would canvass until she found a "real job." One week later she was a Field Manager and one month later she was a Canvass Director. Meshawn directed offices in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego before moving to Chicago to be the Midwest Regional Director in 2005.
Keep up the great work Meshawn!
Miranda July's new movie "The Future," is getting great reviews and a lot of buzz, and features a particulary funny scene involving door-to-door canvassing. Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips calls it a "vexing blend of foggy whimsy and observant soul-searching."
The premise involves a couple reluctant to surrender to age, who decide to adopt a street cat named "Paw-Paw" as a statement of adulthood. In the 30 days leading up to little Paw-Paw coming home with them, the couple (played by July and Hamish Linklater) decide this is their time to seize youth.
"Forty is basically 50 and after 50 the rest is just loose change," says Jason.
His response: become a canvasser, going door-to-door asking people if they have a moment to reduce global warming.
It's a pretty amusing scene. Whether you've knocked on doors or not, check this one out.