by Wade Rathke
Pearl River The sports pages are full of discussion about whether or not baseball players will be putting the wood on the ball soon in huge, empty parks, or whether basketball players will be bouncing the rubber on the hardwood courts to resume their season. For organizers, putting the fist on the wood again, means that we’re gearing up to hit the doors again.
Now that France has reopened, first tests in Lyon, France last week in a social housing project where we are organizing were golden. The masked organizer had no problems getting families to open their doors. He signed up a new member while he was out there. One member he visited had already personally gotten thirty signatures on their petition to the government to cancel rent debt by going door to door on the bottom floors near where she lived. He only took off his mask when there was an impromptu house meeting with three folks, none of whom were wearing. A report half as good would have still been solid. In a quick test in New Orleans, we found much the same thing.
In England, ACORN has been having zoom trainings to put out “an army,” as they are calling it, of door knockers in our neighborhoods to raise up our new campaign called, “Housing is Health.” The trainings make sure that all of the volunteer organizing committee members are sensitive to the new pandemic environment for our work and are comfortable going forward, but there is little doubt about the success this mass doorknocking will have. Partially, that comes from ACORN’s successful experience in the United Kingdom of having mobilized thousands of volunteers in Covid-19 support and solidarity work over the last two months. We’ve been in and around homes in our communities already deliverying grocery and pharmacy orders. I apologize for the pun, but ACORN has already taken the pulse of our communities, so now it’s time to get the job done.
Talking to an organizer in Milwaukee about our experience and whether it made sense for his team to start canvassing to register voters in the area, my recommendation was categorically, yes, once he indicated that his program was targeting minority, low-and-moderate, and youth communities. Their doors are unlocked and ready to respond. The success rate is likely to be amazing, because more people will be home, out of work or furloughed.
Out in the suburbs, upper middle-income areas, or lily-white neighborhoods, the response and my recommendation would have been different, but to tell the truth, many of those areas didn’t open their doors to us before the pandemic, so why would it be different now? Summer is our season, and all around the world, we’re getting ready to go hard, go big, and make it happen on the doors again.
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