When I first heard that the Building Organizing Leadership Development (BOLD) project would involve door-to-door canvassing, I was nervous. I had always told myself there’s no way I could do that. At one point in my life calling for pizza made me socially anxious. And yet, I knew, the meaningful conversations that are at the center of deep canvassing, were critical to working towards justice and out-organizing the far right. Watching the testimonial videos that were shared with BOLD participants about deep canvassing was inspiring. People are using this tactic across the country and making genuine connections that surpass party labels to fight for racial and economic justice. I knew I had to at least try.
Fast forward through the insightful and critical conversations we had throughout the Race Class Academy, and on June 4th I sat in a room of 12+ people who were ready to hit the streets. After training to prepare us for safe and effective canvassing, we lined up in order of comfort level. I was still a 1, meaning, eek! So I was paired with PJALS Steering Committee member Bill Aal who felt more comfortable. It was a great partnership where we tag-teamed during our conversations with 3 community members in Cheney making sure that we both asked questions to get to know each person as well as hit our critical points of asking them to be a voter, connecting them with our BOLD partners and the PJALS summer picnic date, and helping to frame the issues that we all cared about in the context that we face in Spokane County and the country: politicians are using racism to divide us while catering to the desires of wealthy and powerful people, but, we can come together as a multiracial community of everyday people and demand that the government works for black, brown, and white people.
Even though I left on June 4th feeling that our conversations had a positive impact, the morning leading up to our July 9th canvass, my stomach was back in knots. Walking up to a stranger’s door and knocking can feel really scary, and it did when APIC Spokane and PJALS member Pui-Yan Lam and I walked around Garland and Driscoll. But, again, having a partner made all the difference. We talked to 4 people, many of whom were eager to engage and often thanked us for being out there doing this work.
I’m sure I’ll be nervous again when it comes to canvassing in the fall, but it is worth it. We’re building the world we want: one where neighbors across Spokane County have meaningful conversations about things they care about and how they can work together to build a more just and caring community that meets the needs of the people. My niece is 18 months old now and her moms and soon-to-be sibling will all be living in Spokane for the long haul, so I’m thrilled to be a part of PJALS and BOLD. This way, perhaps she can grow up in a thriving multiracial county where the government works for people of all races.