Dublin What a treat! Intermixed with making the organizing plan for the year with some of the CATU officers, I got to be backup with a couple of the committee on the doors in the Mountjoy-Dorset neighborhood where the first group is being built.
The first thing I learned to great relief is that they had changed the name of the organization, wisely. Some of the ACORN organizers in the UK had turned up their noses just a bit when they thought the “A” in CATU stood for “and.” But, no, the name was no longer Community AND Tenants’ Union – Ireland, but Community Action Tenants’ Union. Sounds better for one and puts action in the game, which is even better.
We stopped on a corner before hitting the doors on St. Ignatius Street, or at least what I thought was St. Ignatius Street, since there was also a St. Ignatius Lane, Road, and whatever in this sainted part of north Dublin near the city center. The team wanted to do some role plays and work off some of the rust since they were just starting in earnest again on the doors with a regular schedule in place again. These were veterans but, as my main teammate mentioned, it was different building an organization and laying the groundwork in the rap, than when she had canvassed for votes for the successful abortion referendum recently. Listening was more important in digging for the issues and moving people towards membership, meetings, and actions.
There were some technical problems that underlined some of the advice I had given them about keeping the list, marking the doors, including the “not homes,” which they had not been doing in any systematic ways. Noting comments on the doors would help others follow-up as well. The problem came home clearly when we started at the bottom of the street and our other doorknocker started at the top. We were early on the doors, before 4PM, so I expected a huge number of not homes, but the first door that answered was a responsive, older man, who almost immediately said he had already visited with us the past weekend and given his contact information. Another half-dozen doors found us being briskly shooed away by another woman thanking us profusely for working to organize the neighborhood, but hurriedly moving us down the street. I’d call her a “no.”
My team had some good visits. We caught a woman and her mother on the street and she left the gate open to her complex letting us knock all the doors there. Litter, crime along the canal, and the change in the complex to more rentals than mortgage holdersLitter, crime along the canal, and the change in the complex to more rentals than mortgage holders all bothered her. She was a “maybe” for the membership and only slightly better for the meeting. She made me immediately for an American, not surprisingly. One of her neighbors was similar and had a mugging with little action by the Garda, as they call the local police. They gave him a cup of tea, and that was about it.
Our best door was at the end of a cul-de-sac. A man and his two dogs answered, and he pulled us into the hallway and called his wife, who he thought would be interested. Over the shoulder I could see a sign on the doorway to the hall that in huge letters said, F*CK YEAH, if you follow me. We could tell these were our people. We got a commitment to join and a “yes” for the meeting.
By the time we went in we had collectively done 56 doors, had about 10 visits, and 3 callbacks. More importantly I could tell we could build a group here, especially if the doorknocking teams pressed harder and more tightly on the rap. They will get it done. There’s a month before the meeting that will launch the first ACORN group as CATU-Ireland builds towards its goal of three groups this year, and what I hope is 500 members
Ireland seems green and quick growing turf for ACORN.
Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International