“These guys are the best… and they specialize in the ridiculous.”
A few years ago, a remake of the A-Team came out in theaters. I can’t recommend that anyone go out of their way to watch it, but this line has come back to me many times over the past two months.
Minnesota. Indiana. New Jersey. California. A band of nuclear warriors from coast to coast has descended upon Ohio to join with local canvassers and organizers. They have slept on floors, put thousands of miles on their cars, and eaten far too many meals at the corner Steak ‘n Shake-- all without a day off in sight. All for one common purpose: save the largest source of clean power our country knows.
In the process, they have proven what until only a couple of months ago was just theory. When Eric and I first pitched (to anyone who would take a meeting with us) the idea of grassroots advocacy and door-to-door canvassing as a way to turn the tide in the fight to protect and expand nuclear power, we were optimistic we could convince 40% of the people we had a conversation with to sign down their name and contact information in support of Generation Atomic’s mission. More than one person raised a skeptical eyebrow to that goal.
Today, and week after week, nearly 60% of the people we speak with sign down as Generation Atomic supporters.
The reason is simple: we have face-to-face conversations with real people based on hard facts and common values. Each supporter you see is a person with a story who has taken the time to become engaged in the conversation about nuclear and - almost always - has hand-written a note to their local legislator to encourage him or her to support nuclear.
They are single parents taking five minutes out of their break between two jobs to talk to Kale or Kevin or Shawn or Michael. They are young engineers just starting a family sharing a beer with Jon and Charlie, hoping they don’t have to pick up and move and start over in another state. They are soccer coaches and Sunday school teachers looking to Wyatt or Dan to help preserve the community they know and enrich. They are skeptics on the phone with Chase or Amelia, changing their minds about a technology they fear. They are neighbors in Akron from the same streets Ernest, Demar, Jaclyn, Edward, and Day grew up on. They are plant workers and managers who depend on Sam and Tracy and Grant to support a team who is fighting for their jobs.
Whatever the mission has required, this team has done it. Short notice, short sleep, or short funding - each member of this team has sacrificed and summoned the strength to put the mission first.
That is why I wanted to take an extra moment in posting this field report to tell you a little about the unsung heroes who, each day, are pounding the pavement and putting their knuckles against the doors to tell regular people the story about nuclear power.
It is hard, exhausting work; and sometimes - like last week - there just are not enough hours in the day after telling nuclear’s story to tell our own. So I hope you will take a moment out of your day to read this report and share our story with someone who hasn’t heard it yet.
We have a war to win.
“On my first day, I met a very polite women who knew a lot about nuclear plants because she lived near one in Indiana. I was a little nervous, but we spoke for 15 minutes - she taught me a lot and signed down as a supporter. It was a great start for me and made me feel more comfortable knocking on doors, because I just told myself, 'if there’s one like this then there has to be like 20 more who are waiting to hear from me.'”
- Ernest Scuder, Akron Team Canvasser
“I met a man who worked at the plant as an engineer. He was extremely thrilled with what we were doing because he felt like someone was fighting for him. He said it made him feel good that someone outside of the plant cared about his job. He gave us his full support and said he would do anything he could at our plant event [next week].”
- Kale Wurdeman, Rapid Response Canvasser
Following a week of training, the field team made 1000 more attempts than last week. New canvassers continue to improve on converting actions as the action rate is up 10% from last week and approaching the historical action rate. The outlier stat for this week is an unusually high refusal rate; field organizers are attributing this to particularly rough turf (particularly in Akron), time of day, and a need for continued canvasser improvement.
Attempts continue to climb with canvasser experience. Action rates have bounced back, while supporter conversion remains above 50%. Refusals per attempt also dropped from 7.6% during week 7 to 5.8% this week after canvasser re-training. A new canvassing schedule has been implemented to improve contact rates.
With hope for the future,
Generation Atomic Team