I have to admit I thought we were sunk this week.
You know that feeling you get when you're event starts at 12 and its 12:30 and there is only one person there. Yeah. That's the feeling I had. Only one person showed up for the training, but I did the training anyway. As I was walking through the training points I was trying to repress the mental images of the project falling flat on its face, or of my hopes of finishing my project flying away. I was wrapping up the training, and getting my stuff together to go out, (because no one canvasses alone)...
...and just as we opened the door to go to the car the rest of the canvass team showed up. Not only did most of the group from last week return, but we had one more person join the group. So we went back inside, did a shortened version of the training for our new volunteer, and got the teams out as quickly as we could into the neighborhood.
This time when people came back we took time to debrief. The canvass teams were excited about the conversations they had. Some people were really happy to respond to the questions, a few were cautious at first, but became relieved once they realized we were not trying to sell them anything. "I am really glad we are using this format" one of the canvassers stated in the debrief. "People are so suprised and so happy that we are just asking them questions, it makes me more comfortable with each door I knock on."
We are starting to get some ideas about the work we can do in this neighborhood. There is a felt lack of community space, particularly spaces for families and neighbors to have a meal together (unless its fast food). People recognize the need for an increased number of job opportunities for young people. Just when I was worried that the project was going to die a premature death, we began to hear real responses.