Dallas I was teamed up with Maude Hurd, an ACORN leader from Boston and teaching my 4-year old daughter to door knock in 1988 at a stop along the route in Mitchellville, Arkansas during ACORN’s Caravan for Justice to increase voter participation when Rev. Jesse Jackson was running for President. We made up a little doggerel tune about the fact that we were “doorkocking fools” in love with doorknocking. You get the gist, I imagine. I have spent my career as part of a deep tradition and practice of doorknocking, meeting people face to face in their homes and engaging them in issues, campaigns, and organizational membership. When people talk about how they rank God, Family, Country, I’m often confused where they are putting doorknocking on that list? There’s simply no more effective tool we’ve developed in organizing than doorknocking. Period.
And, that’s because it works, and that means in the crazy way of the world these days that doorknocking scaring some people. Not because of the neighborhoods or lone doorknockers out on city streets at night, but because it’s just too damn effective.
This isn’t news to me. It’s part of why ACORN International is getting some much attention in the United Kingdom, and the organizing drives in Bristol and Edinburgh are going so well. But, that’s just me, so I thought I would looking for verification on whether doorknocking is being taken more seriously, and it seems the fear of doorknocking is everywhere.
In Chicago, they are still uptight about doorknocking after all of these years! I found the Grassroots Collaborative, a group where ACORN was a founding member years ago, they had…
“…, Felipe Hernandez and Kevin Tapia were canvassing in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood on Tuesday, March 25 when they were approached by the police and charged with soliciting unlawful business. Both men are scheduled to appear in court on May 16, 2014. “It’s crazy, I never would have thought informing people about …[their rights] would get me in handcuffs.” Hernandez said. “I was doing something positive for my community. We’ve been out here throughout this horrible winter talking to … families. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
Of course despite the enthusiasm of Chicago police and announcements by unions and advocates about doorknocking programs, thanks to Google, I came to understand the worldwide concern about doorknocking when I saw a report from New Zealand about a Maori group opening a new clinic for low income families and the dustup that doorknocking there had caused. Before the clinic opened they took the radical step of doorknocking to tell people about the clinic and enroll folks, a little like Congress is worried about. The miscreant was interviewed:
Mr Ngatai says the group, with a background in social services, was naïve to the fact marketing is not the done thing when setting up a new practice. “I can understand that we would have got up people’s noses,” Mr Ngatai says. “We have 1200 to 1600 enrolments and we haven’t even opened our doors.”
Doorknocking obviously gets up a lot of “ people’s noses,” it seemed. Can’t have that now can we? Best to ban doorknocking!
I’ve never heard a better recommendation for doing more of it. Let’s hope there are thousands prepared to stand up for them, hit the bricks, put knuckles to the wood, and continue to spread the word and get people organized!