How Neighborhood Canvassers are Made: The Dirt on Grassroots Environmental Organizing in Connecticut

Authors: Joseph Minor*, Southern CT State University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Social Geography, Applied Geography
Keywords: Canvasser, Community Organizing, Communication
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Iris, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Mainstream America comes to know about political-environmental campaigns through mediated reports on scientific research, lobbying, and formal political processes. Additionally, some households are engaged by canvassers, employed by environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO) for the dual purposes of raising money to fund those activities as well as educating the residents of those households about environmental problems. The NGOs strategically organize these neighborhood deployments and constitute sites where hiring and labor practices for political-environmental workers are negotiated and carried out. These practices play an awesome yet little known material role in the collection of funding and in the dissemination of information about environmental issues through public spaces. This paper identifies and explores the institutional and spatial strategies used by an environmental NGO in Connecticut for organizing and making use of environmental workers. It touches on work-related issues that factor heavily into recruiting and retaining full time neighborhood canvassers, the lifestyles of neighborhood canvassers, and the geographic and cultural trials that canvassers experience as they work through their probationary period, which functions as a kind of crucible that either results in a resignation on the part of the worker or the manufacturing of a career-canvasser with benefits and opportunities for advancement. These labor practices bear significantly on the messages that residents in any given neighborhood receive about environmental problems as well as which neighborhoods learn about environmental problems through canvassers and which ones are left out.

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