By Ashley Lodato
It finally felt like the first week of summer: hikers headed into high mountain lakes, people in tubes and rafts floating down the river, the temperatures high enough that we were reminded of what the real heat ahead might feel like.
I spent part of Sunday with other community members canvassing for Ann Diamond, who most of you probably know as the longtime local doctor and founder of the Country Clinic, one of the last independent medical clinics in the country. Ann is now running for the Washington state Legislature in District 12. Our canvass team was traveling in pairs, knocking on doors and reminding residents to vote in the upcoming August primary election, from which two candidates will advance to the mid-term elections in November.
During this process of canvassing neighborhoods located barely 5 miles from my own, we traveled down several roads I did not know existed, and met many people I had never even seen before. This is one of the things I love about small towns — that there is always something fresh to be discovered if I vary from my own predictable path, both my geographic path and my psychological comfort zone.
I had been dreading the canvassing, because I worried that it would be an imposition to those upon whose doors we were knocking. I pictured people hiding silently behind curtains when they saw us coming, quietly willing us to keep moving along. It reminded me of selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door in high school to support our marching band’s travel and uniform budget. It reminded my canvassing partner of his own youth, when he sold doughnuts door-to-door — a far more tempting impulse buy than the products I was hawking. “Ah well,” I thought about the canvassing beforehand, “at least I won’t have to be selling anything.”
But as we were greeted warmly at house after house, and as we engaged with our fellow community members in conversations about our hopes for the social, environmental, economic and political future of our area, I realized that we were indeed selling something. It was nowhere near as frivolous and fleeting as a pastry or a piece of reading material; instead, we were selling a common sense ideology, an opportunity for positive change, and a chance to participate in the American legislative process. And all for the low cost of some solid convictions, a healthy dose of optimism and a few minutes of time.