New faces canvass for school bond

Campaign organizers equip canvassing students with a script, flyers and information on each house they are to visit before the volunteers head out to knock on doors.

Saturday, April 15, was a beautiful day in Portland, Oregon. There was a break in the rain, and several Lincoln students were ready to promote the bond that will rebuild their school.

Going door to door speaking with residents about the upcoming measure, several students got their first experience with direct political action while supporting a cause they care about.

About eight Lincoln students and two middle school students participated in a canvass walk of the Ainsworth Elementary School and Gabriel Park areas to promote the school bond vote on the May 16 ballot.

Almost all of the students who took part were first-time canvassers and didn’t know what to expect.

Most were a part of a student-led activist group called SHOVELS PDX. The leader of the organization, sophomore Raja Moreno, was enthusiastic about so many new faces joining the fight to get this bond passed.

One of the responsibilities of members of SHOVELS PDX is to recruit new people to join the movement. Some members of SHOVELS PDX that were at the canvass included Lincoln sophomores Zelda Offerman and Kate Reynolds.

Offerman, before canvassing, said that it is “an extrovert’s paradise. You get to meet new people and have an intelligent conversation with them.”

Even though this was Offerman’s first canvass for the school bond, she was enthusiastic and excited.  

Another new face was Reynolds. She was unsure and a little nervous about knocking on random doors. But once it was time to perform, she stood up to challenge.  

“This is a great cause and it is important to support the community, especially when it directly affects me and my younger siblings,” Reynolds said.

She said she “would definitely do it again. It was fun and it supports Portland Public School and the community.”

Sage Taylor, a sophomore recruited by Reynolds, went along to spread the word. This is also her first time canvassing, and was a little nervous but eager for what might happen.

“The experience was interesting,” Taylor said. “I have never been door-to-door talking to strangers. It was a good experience and we got several people to volunteer. But I don’t know if I would do it again. The organizers seemed to know what they were doing, but the list they gave us was all out of order. We spent 20 minutes just trying to find the right house. They gave us about 80 houses to do in 2 1/2 hours.”

Reynolds and Taylor were accompanied by a Cardinal Times reporter while in the Gabriel Park neighborhood.

Residents were for the most part kind and willing to volunteer for the cause. One man who said that he was going to vote for the school bond said that “you have to vote for school bonds. They just get to be more and more amounts of money every time. So you have to vote when they first surface.”

Others were not interested in what the canvassers had to say and believed that they were solicitators. These people made some of the first-time canvassers uncomfortable and unsure of what to do.

“It was weird when someone would just automatically turn us down. We tried to follow the sheet, but they would just continue to say that they really weren’t interested. After that we really didn’t know what to do, so we just said thank you and left,” said Reynolds.  

Many of the people on the list provided by organizers were not home. In total, Reynolds and Taylor were able to talk to about seven people about the bond, all of whom said that they would support the bond in May.

Ballots are due by May 16.