Sue Schürer is a retiree who likes to get things done. She really got politically active after Donald Trump was elected. “We were devastated when Trump was elected,” she says.
She knew there were real problems that had to be addressed, and that they didn’t have to be so partisan and extreme. “I wanted to organize something where people could talk together across the aisle,” she says. So she worked locally with other older people and held talking sessions about the school system and about water resources.
But, after years of volunteering and working for causes she cared about, she was frustrated by not seeing any progress. Her seaside county, Carteret, didn’t seem to be changing for the better.
“If what you’re doing isn’t working, then why continue doing it?”
Trying something different in order to succeed
So her small group of five people, who call themselves the Blue Dots, began looking for new connections and ways to use their passion and expertise in a way that created positive change. That’s when they found Down Home.
“When Down Home said nonpartisan, that really ringed a bell,” she says. Talking with our Deep Canvass manager, Bonnie Dobson, Sue felt a kinship with Down Home’s deep canvassing.
“Why keep fighting? It has to start with listening,” she says. “I knew that, but I didn’t know how to give it a structure. And all of a sudden, it was yes yes yes! Deep canvassing is magic. I really do think it’s magic.”
Deep canvassing is a way to connect neighbors
Sue and her Blue Dots have taken the deep canvass training offered by Down Home, as well as attended the Institute. Listening and having heart-to-heart conversations with people have changed the way she approaches political conversations now.
She remembers a conversation she had with a woman who came to spray for insects at her work. While the woman sprayed, Sue told her that the store is hiring if she’s looking for a new job. “No one wants to work!” the woman said. But Sue went into deep canvass mode and knew it was an opportunity for deep listening.
“I asked ‘Do you know someone who doesn’t want to work?’” Sue recalls. The woman said her daughter had two kids and had to go on welfare, and she couldn’t work. Sue asked if she worried about her daughter and her grandkids, and the two struck up a conversation about mutual worry for their families. By the end of the conversation, Sue “Don’t you think the government should help young mothers?” And the woman said “Yes, I do think that!”
Conversations and experiences like these have given Sue hope about crossing the barriers between people and making a larger positive change. “Instead of feeling like a tiny speck in a tiny county,” she says, “I suddenly feel like I’m part of this bigger thing.”
Want to get involved? Find Down Home events here: https://www.mobilize.us/downhomenc/
Photo: Sue Schürer with her favorite helper!