BILL GIFFORD’S ARTICLE (“Save the World, Six Bucks an Hour,” 8/18) was moderately entertaining, but mostly disturbing. I don’t see how Gifford could have any basis to form an opinion on the validity of canvassing after only five days’ experience in the field. Canvassing has been used as a valuable organizing tool since the early ’70s. Canvassers have helped sway elections, break down corporate monopolies, and protect the environment and public health. This work took much longer than five days and was obviously done by people with more spine and conviction to the issues than Gifford.
Gifford’s article does a great disservice to Greenpeace and to canvassers everywhere. Canvassers on the a whole are a committed lot, extremely dedicated, highly intelligent, and, unlike most people, willing to get out there and make a difference. Many canvassers go on to do valuable grass-roots organizing, found organizations, run electoral campaigns, and even run for political office. Canvassers and former canvassers are responsible for much of the positive social change we have seen over the last two decades, though none of it happened overnight.
Canvassing is a very difficult but rewarding job that takes more than just “normal intelligence and communication skills.” It takes strength to wage a long battle, pride to never stand small, rage to never settle for less. It is truly unfortunate that Gifford lacked the vision to see where we started, how far we’ve come, and yet how much further we need to go.