Dear canvassers, stop destroying my positivity toward other humans

Portland, Oregon—not unlike SoHo here in NYC—is home to much socially/environmentally conscious foot traffic. With said liberal-minded pedestrians come many positives of urban living: Whole Foods, farmers markets, arts and parks, and growing small business. But one of the negative side-effects is canvassers. Here’s a segment of conversation I had with a canvasser for Children International about 5 years ago (when I still smoked).

CANVASSER: Do you smoke? If you quit smoking, you could give the money you spend on cigarettes to feed starving children.
ME: If you wore burlap sacks instead of name brand labels, you could give the money you spend on clothes to charity. Plus, you wouldn’t be supporting sweatshops.
CANVASSER: What I wear has nothing to do with this conversation.
ME: That’s very interesting you should say that.

This conversation circled back on itself about 15 times as I actually tried to engage in dialogue about my charitable giving habits and why I don’t need to donate right at this moment to prove that I even slightly care about Africa. And the end result was her saying to me as I walked away: “Smoking is disgusting,” which while subjectively true, was not the way to talk to someone you want money from.

Now, when I see canvassers, I avoid eye contact and if approached just repeat loudly “No no no no no,” and crescendo until they move away from me. This is where I am as a human.

Going back to Portland now… Ad agency Wieden+Kennedy is based there, and right in the middle of one of these gentrified, lefty hoods. But instead of capitulating to distrustful introversion, they took a more direct and efficient approach. They made cards for their employees to hand out to the pack of canvassers.

Canvasser Cards

Such a finely worded weapon! Because it’s not about the cause. I philosophically support the ACLU and HRC and Children International, even if I don’t give my money to those specific organizations. I get it. But like with telemarketers, I’m sure the financial results are substantial for these development/membership departments, but they certainly do terrible things for public relations.

Canvasser Card Display

Wieden+Kennedy need only grab a card or 3 from the elevator and make their way into the wild, passive-aggressively reminding these canvassers that it’s not them; it’s not the cause; it’s the process of canvassing that is deleterious to positive social practices.

(source: Wieden+Kennedy, link via Laughing Squid)

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