What Is So Great About Deep Canvassing?

community conversationsRetake Our Democracy is launching a citywide campaign to hold community conversations in all kinds of settings. We will be having deep conversations about social and economic justice in town halls, community meetings, at house parties and by canvassing, and not just using your standard canvassing approach, but by going much deeper and actually listening to our neighbors.

Deep Canvassing is a research-based approach to canvassing that is entirely different from traditional canvassing where you go door-to-door with a tightly structured message that is to be conveyed at every door, no matter who answers.  What is different about Deep Canvassing?

  • You begin by canvassing your block and surrounding neighborhood and have conversations not with some random person on a route, but with your neighbors.
  • While you work from a loose script, you start by asking questions of your neighbor and listen to their stories as you share yours. It sounds sort of silly, but as the video at the bottom of this post displays it is a powerful communication strategy that is actually appropriate to a wide range of communication situations.
  • You are not trying to persuade anyone of anything. You are having a very casual conversation about social and economic injustice in Santa Fe, sharing some information, but then listening keenly to how your neighbor feels about what you have shared.
  • Ultimately, the goal is to help your neighbors connect with their deepest sense of values and their own personal experience with economic and social justice and help them recognize how deeply they really care about justice.
  • And of course, we will be canvassing to identify those people who instantly are offended by the depth of injustice in our City and want to get involved.

Click here for an excellent, short primer on what Deep Canvassing is and why it works.

Click here for an article on the research that demonstrates just how effective Deep Canvassing can be.

Click here for a great Mother Jones article outlining how Deep Canvassing began and how it is used. This is a good piece for getting a real feel for Deep Canvassing.

But the best way to understand Deep Canvassing is to watch it in action. This Ted Talk is done by David Fleischer who developed Deep Canvassing in Los Angeles after the vote on Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in California. Note how David introduces first his own ‘public narrative,’ his very personal reason for being concerned with social justice and discrimination. The Talk includes about 5 minutes of actual canvassing. It provides very compelling evidence as to why Deep Canvassing is so effective.