Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ultimate grassroots experience

I campaigned with Seanna Brandmeir-candidate for Metro Council District 22 this week.

If you are looking for the ultimate grassroots advocacy experience, volunteer to go door-to-door with a candidate or to promote or support an issue. Not only will it give you a feel for the pulse of the people, it will link you with them as only face-to-face meetings do.

Here are some ways I get good results when I canvas a street.

  1. I take someone with me who has ties with that area. It takes some time, but it's worth it to ask around and find someone who meets the bill.  Someone who lives on the street, who grew up there, went to school or is cousins of someone from the area. That way, when I introduce myself, I introduce my friend and say: do you know so-and-so, he grew up over there and we're here because ...." Suddenly we're one big family. Asking for support just comes up naturally.
  2.  I stand back on the porch far enough that people can easily see who I am, and have campaign material visable, at the ready, in my hand. I like to drop back onto the steps, so I can step forward and deliver my card and message.
  3. I always quit before dark. Even though that's important for my own safety, I also know people don't want to open their doors after dark.  Sometimes it's hard to quit when I'm working a list but there is no need to push this one. Get in the car and go home.
  4. I avoid disagreements and debates. Door-to-door is a numbers game, so keep talk short and move on fast.
  5. I smile a lot and stay clear of pets. 
I wish I could report that I always go for the close and ask point-blank: May I count on your vote? - my favorite phrase when I'm on a roll.  Sometimes I just say appreciative things. I have rarely felt unwelcome or imposing. Generally, it is energizing to meet people who are interested in knowing more too. Door-to-door canvasing is a basic grassroots strategy that works for outreach, sales and advocacy. I confess I'm just a modest financial contributor but I'm a willing campaign volunteer. Politics at the grassroots level really brings the process home.

1 comment:

  1. With that said, there are a lot of people who are sheepish about asking this all important question. For those folks who refuse to do it, I split the question into two parts.

    1) Have you decided on who you will vote for? (eliminates the undecideds)

    2) May I count on your vote? / Who are voting for?

    It's reduces the frequency that the candidate or volunteer actually has to ask for their vote (God forbid), which they appreciate.

    Ideally, however, you are just asking the question that you have posed.