Your May 2021 DEEP CANVASSER

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10 mins read
A volunteer talks to a voter at CTC's recent canvass in Philadelphia.

Hi Friends,

Welcome to The Deep Canvasser, CTC’s new monthly newsletter. It’s full of information about our work and opportunities to get involved. 

DOOR OPENER

The numbers are in! Last year our volunteers completed 14,787 conversations, in a state Biden won by only 80,000 votes. And 80% of people we spoke to actually voted, which definitely helped defeat Trump! Come to the Impact Report briefing on May 4th (details below) to learn much more.

And our work continues! The Republican Party is spreading lies, enabling extremists, and restricting voting rights.  With razor-thin margins in Congress, progressives can’t afford to sit back.  So CTC is pushing boldly ahead—with our first canvass of 2021, year-round organizing, and new hires!  Read on for more.  

THE STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA
On Sunday April 25th, 40 canvassers returned to knock on doors in Philadelphia.

Why? Because CTC is committed to building on our success in Pennsylvania. The state continues to be pivotal: Philly’s progressive DA faces a police-union-backed candidate May 18 … the state GOP is trying to undermine the judiciary and suppress the vote this November … and there’s an open Republican Senate seat plus a governor’s race next year. The neighborhoods we canvassed, and others like them, can play a huge role deciding our country’s future. 

Canvassers reconnected with Philadelphians we’d met before, and spoke with others we hadn’t. We discussed not just voting in a particular election, but seeing themselves as voters. CTC, likewise, is working towards an ongoing partnership with these communities.  Several voters even agreed to become CTC volunteers!

Volunteers had a good time, too.  At the debrief, they used words like “just great” and “amazing” to describe the return to in-person canvassing.   

Volunteer Tom Brown had one memorable in-depth conversation, with a resident who finally admitted that, as an ex-felon, he couldn’t vote.  But Tom thought that might be wrong, so he brought in his turf partner Ellen Chapnick, a lawyer.  She clarified that under PA law, the man should now have the right to vote.  His face lit up. “It was like I’d handed him a check for a million dollars,” says Ellen. Tom registered the man to vote and signed him up for vote-by-mail.  A victory for deep canvassing, and for democracy!
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TEAMS IN ACTION … RE+I

Among the CTC teams launched this year is one devoted to Racial Equity + Inclusion. Long-time volunteer Lisa Mann spearheaded the initiative, having felt as far back as 2018 in Staten Island that “there was this undercurrent of race, which I didn’t have any experience talking about.”

Now with some anti-racist education under her belt, Lisa believes learning to confront bias and inequities is a life-long pursuit—for individuals and for an organization like CTC.  

The team’s mission is to center racial equity and inclusion (RE+I) in decision-making throughout CTC. So it’s structured to include “core” members as well as “bridge” members who link to CTC’s other teams.  RE+I aims to create clear paths for BIPOC and White CTCers to address racial issues, and aspires to evolve an organization whose membership mirrors the recent Democratic electorate. 

Diversifying CTC means more than bringing in new faces. “The greater goal,” says team member Celeste Voce, “is that anyone can join and feel that they have the support they need.” 

That begins with equipping CTC’s current membership with tools to understand, discuss, and address these issues. In preparation for the latest action, RE+I piloted a “Centering the Voter” workshop, where team members presented research about the predominantly working-class Black areas where volunteers were headed. They encouraged canvassers to explore their own discomfort in these neighborhoods, and find ways to “be mindful of ourselves as visitors.”  

The RE+I Team is trying to model inclusive organizational practices, making space for all voices to be heard. This echoes deep canvassing’s emphasis on listening, Celeste says: Learning to value different perspectives “will help you be a better canvasser, and help the organization as a whole be more inclusive.”

Attention to process is crucial to RE+I’s ultimate success, and that requires patience. But “another hope I have,” says Lisa, “is to balance the need for discipline with some impatience. We need to move things.”  


STAY INVOLVED

Impact Report: A Briefing for Volunteers
Tuesday, May 4, 7-8:30pm EDT
Register

CTC has always been dedicated to evaluating our work. That’s why every canvasser keeps records on every interaction.  Now, after months of data entry and analysis, we have hard numbers about the difference you made. 

It’s all detailed in a new report, EVALUATING IMPACT 2020. And you can get the first look this Tuesday, May 4 at 7:00 at an all-CTC briefing. 

Spoiler alert: you made a big difference. Sign up here to learn all about it, ask questions, and celebrate!  
 

Friends & Family Fundraising Training
Wednesday, May 12, 6-8PM EDT

Register

While CTC is mostly fueled by volunteers, it’s run by staff. And that takes money. Our paid organizers help recruit, train, and support volunteer leaders. Our small budget also covers all the materials involved in canvassing. 

If CTC has been meaningful to your political involvement … if you want CTC to thrive … please join us for a Friends & Family Fundraising Training on May 12th.

Fundraising the CTC way is surprisingly fun! You don’t need a Rolodex of wealthy friends or family members—just a desire to share the joy of this work with people you know. And once you finish the training, you’ll be ready to help CTC in a whole new way.  


VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: PRAVIN CHOTTERA

Pravin was looking for a better way to advocate for change than getting into arguments on Twitter. When he read about CTC in a New York Times article in fall 2020, he googled the organization and cold-emailed. Soon Pravin, who works at an ad agency, was soon designing the canvasser and voter guides and other CTC print materials. He’s now part of the Communications team. But he wanted to do more. “I enjoy talking to people,” he said. “That’s why I joined.” So on Sunday, April 25th, he traveled from his home on the Upper West Side to Philadelphia for his first deep canvass. “Talking to voters was super enjoyable and very rewarding,” he said. His most memorable conversation was with a woman who answered the door, though she wasn’t on his list. “We ended up sharing stories about our grandmothers. She said, ‘This is great, but what does it have to do with voting?’ That made me do some soul searching….I think politics plays a big role in our personal lives, and I want to become better at communicating about that.”“When you go to the door, they’re just a name on a sheet. Once you get a peek into their living room, they become a real person whom you start to get to know. I had five or six conversations, and I’m still thinking about those people and their lives.”

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