Changing the Conversation Together: Join Us in Taking a New Approach to Canvassing

Contributed by Cindi Sternfeld 

Have you ever wondered if what we’ve been doing can make a difference? ILNH is constantly looking for ways to save democracy from the attacks we witness on a daily basis. You might ask: can ILNH really save democracy? 

The answer is, maybe. 

Maybe we can, if we find new and different ways to engage the electorate. Maybe we can, if we figure out how to bring back the checks and balances that were put in place to keep government of and for the people.  

Over the past two-plus years, ILNH introduced many campaigns to educate, advocate and activate more citizens to get out and vote. For the most part, our initiatives fall into two categories: LEARN and DO – with a little fun thrown in for good measure. Sometimes the initiatives come from inside the group, and sometimes they come from people we’ve never met or heard of, but who have heard of ILNH.  

A couple of months back, ILNH was contacted by Adam Barbanel-Fried, who leads Changing the Conversation Together (CTC). CTC is a group of concerned citizens that use a strategy of “deep canvassing,” which teaches volunteers to use their personal stories, empathetic listening and engaged conversations to help voters think about how their values connect with the issues of the day. CTC has used this strategy before and it worked!  

Adam came to town to explain CTC and to invite us to become partners. He also met with several leaders of other Pennsylvania groups. CTC sees the Pennsylvania 1st Congressional District as flippable, and frankly, so do we.  We want to find out if we can use CTC strategies to flip PA-01. It worked in New York when they used deep canvassing to help Max Rose get elected to NY 11th Congressional district, and we believe it can work here. 

Adam and the leadership team of ILNH explored several options to make this goal a reality.  Some of the options were large-scale and some were more cautious. After much consideration, it seems that the approach that makes the most sense is to do what we’ve done all along: LEARN and DO. 

Our plan is to start out by training a core group of volunteers to LEARN deep canvassing, and in the very same day, send them out to DO some deep canvassing.  We are looking at dates in September to pilot the program because the clock is ticking on the 2020 election. 

We will work with volunteers, partners and other stakeholders to co-host a CTC LEARN and DO event. We’ll gather 30-50 folks to take the next step on the road to success. It will be a full-day event that will teach you how to have conversations about values and then get you and a partner out and knocking on doors.  

The main difference this time is that you won’t be “selling” a candidate, you will be looking to have conversations with voters about what you, and they, care about.  While our goal is to try to get a deep canvass launched once a month, for now, we want to do a pilot training and see what we can learn. 


Today I am reaching out to find volunteers. The coalition of ILNH and other groups is looking to create a mighty band of volunteers trained in the CTC deep-canvassing approach. The rules will be the same as they’ve been all along:  We will NEVER send you out alone; you will have scripts and all of the information you need to be a confident canvasser, and we will work with you to help you have a great experience.  

If you want to join me in being a part of this exciting change, please sign up at this link to join our team! 

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