Conversations for change – doorknocking in North Melbourne
Luke is a neighbourhood organiser, and has written this blog about his experiences doorknocking on Ellen's campaign. Door knocking is the most valuable thing a volunteer can do to help us win the election. If you're interested in attending a training or going out doorknocking, you can sign up here.
It’s a crisp and sunny Saturday morning in July. I'm buzzing about the kitchen with a coffee in hand, making sure the kettle is boiled, cups are out, slice is on the table and that the door knock training materials are blue-tacked up and are ready to go. Because in about 2 minutes, about 10 of my favourite type of people in the world – Greens volunteers - will be knocking on my door looking to take their passion to the streets!
One by one they come in. I introduce myself and get them suitably sugared-up on slice and hot beverages, and then it’s down to business and my favourite part of the day – why are we here? Each person in the room shares their own story, their own reasons for wanting to step up and turn their belief in a better world into action to support the Greens. Have you ever been in a room full of people with whom you know you share the same fundamental belief in justice, equality, grassroots democracy and ecological sustainability? It’s pretty uplifting!
I tell the group that these stories and this ability to describe what’s important to them are the most important things they can take on a door knock – if we can go out, listen to and have conversations with our neighbours about the type of world we want to live in, then we are building a community that will be able to create that world, and connecting people to the Greens.
Next up its training time. One of the key benefits of being a volunteer on Ellen’s campaign is the amount of support provided to participants to ensure they are comfortable and equipped to door knock out in the real world. A detailed run through of the process is provided, all questions are answered, they get time to practice what they will say at the door, and they'll usually be able to undertake their first few door knocks with the guidance of an experienced volunteer. At my first door knock in 2013 I had a fantastic volunteer come out and guide my first interactions and after a few doors I was happy to go on my own – and I've never looked back!
Today, it’s my turn to provide the guidance. We all head out and agree to meet back in two hours. Walking to the first door is a chance to get to know my fellow volunteers a bit more and provide further guidance about what to expect when door knocking. At the first door it’s "Hi I'm Luke and I'm a volunteer with Ellen Sandell, your local Greens candidate for the upcoming Victorian State election – we’re out talking to people in North Melbourne today to find out what issues are important to you and how Ellen Sandell can best represent you in Parliament. What issues are important to you?"
And then we’re off! Every person is a new opportunity for discussions and every reaction is different – from "sorry I’m not interested," to "sorry I'm busy," all the way through to "yes I'm interested in health and education," and my personal favourite "it's ok I'm already a Greens supporter!" I've had hundreds of conversations with voters in our electorate and each time I've thoroughly enjoyed it, been challenged, learned something new or been able to share my story about why I'm out supporting the Greens and what we stand for.
In all that time, I've never had anyone be rude or aggressive to me. I've always found that a polite smile and respect for people’s views goes a long way to demonstrating that the Greens are a political party that listens to and is connected with what people really want for their society.
After capturing some data about the interaction in our little clipboard, it’s on to the next door, and usually my newly hatched volunteer is ready to fly off into the world of voter contact at this point, with the assurance of more tea and sweets back at home in order to debrief the results.
It’s usually at this point I get a moment to reflect - every door knocked, every meaningful interaction we have is building the community’s understanding of what the Green’s value, and what having Ellen Sandell as the Member for Melbourne in the Victorian Legislative Assembly will mean to them, to our community and to the future of our world. For me, this is the beginning of a long game, where conversations with my community are not just about getting our views reflected in our society’s decision making bodies, they’re the way we change the world.
To volunteer for a range of roles follow this link and let us know how you'd like to help out!