As a teenager, I imagined two Cracker-Barrel-style rocking chairs as a symbol of community. Neighbors strolling and rolling by, the sound of laughter, and spontaneous visits fit neatly into my teenage vision. I imagined the front porch as a solution to reduce crime and turn strangers into friends.
Even now, I see a front porch to be more than just a place for Amazon deliveries. My teenage vision still occupies my mind as I seek strategies to increase connections. Yet, I’ll be the first to admit my porch chairs are dusty – and construction isn’t the only thing to blame.
Surprise! (People are busy.)
I cherish the summer evenings and weekends when I see our small-town streets buzzing with pedestrians. Boisterous sounds and delicious smells fill the air as neighbors renew and create connections. Yet, we also balance those beautiful moments with the never-ending demands on our time that would take us away from our priorities. This line of thinking is what has caused me pause in how to campaign – something which I have never previously done! Do I do traditional evening and weekend door-knocking to introduce myself or do I find other less-invasive strategies? What’s the right way to learn as much as I can about the community and share what makes me qualified and prepared for the role?
Traditional vs. Modern Campaigning: A Data-Driven Approach (Sort of.)
Before I filed for office, I posted a Facebook poll to inquire regarding preferences on traditional versus modern campaigning. Of the 76 respondents, 78% preferred a door hanger with contact information over the 22% who preferred traditional door-knocking. I’ve consulted with many experience campaigners and found mixed feedback as well. So, what’s a newbie supposed to do?
My Conclusion: Value the Individual
My door-to-door campaigning includes the distribution of door hangers, but my door-knocking is one focused on the individual: one person at a time. Through focused time with individuals and small groups, I’m experiencing deep and meaningful conversations that increase my understanding of each resident and their concerns for our City. I believe this time investment is far more valuable and preparatory than what I could achieve in quick front-door conversations that potentially interrupt precious family or relaxation time. I’m focusing on our community members – on their turf, at their convenience.
Creating Front Porch Opportunities: Community Councils
While the City will be peppered with doorhangers and I’ll be visiting with the individuals who invite me into their homes, I’m also creating front porch opportunities. These events, which we’re dubbing “Community Councils,” (it’s a town hall for people who love alliteration) allow anyone to share a front porch moment with their neighbors. Sure, I’ll be there, too, but – and most importantly – is how we are building our community together – and, I find that’s done well over a cool beverage.