It’s a two-fer this week!
Here’s a fun date idea: Go canvassing together! Andrew and Marnie Ross, a married couple from Chapel Hill, have done this seven times with FLIP NC. It turns out life partners make pretty great canvassing partners, too. Known for their gourmet cooking, they also host FLIP NC’s data entry team meetings monthly at their home – and they feed our number crunchers quite well!
Marnie grew up a military kid. She has now lived in North Carolina for a combined total of 17 years, the longest she’s spent in one state. She works at UNC.
Andrew grew up with parents who traveled the world and lived in impoverished countries when they were young. He was taught from an early age to get involved in order to see the change he desired for society – and to fight for those unable to fight for themselves. He has lived in Chapel Hill since 2007 and works for a retired business owner and philanthropist. Here, a Q&A with the couple.
What has surprised you most about canvassing?
Andrew: The number of people willing to go out and canvass, even in less than ideal weather.
Marnie: People being so willing to invite you in and be hospitable.
If you've participated in other canvasses, how are FLIP NC canvasses different?
Marnie: FLIP NC's are more organized and have a more social element with the Happy Hour Debrief.
Andrew: I’ve participated in other canvasses, and I've definitely had more fun with FLIP NC. I've found FLIP NC more organized, and they've done a fantastic job of presenting data in a way to help canvassers understand the importance of FLIP NC's mission.
Have a funny story or touching moment to share? Maybe something that happened while you were going door to door?
Marnie: We were invited into a family's home so they could give us water and fresh bread. They insisted we sit and talk comfortably. The homeowner was originally from Casablanca but loves being a part of this country. In a time when immigrants are being treated so terribly, it is something I wish more people could experience and see how great immigrants make this country.
What's your top canvassing tip?
Andrew: Do whatever it takes to connect to people. Sometimes speaking from a script feels, well, scripted, so I try to feather in the main questions we want to ask while making it feel like a natural conversation. I've definitely walked away without getting through the entire script, but I think that's OK if it was a positive interaction and if I feel like they are more likely to vote because of our efforts.
Marnie: Make sure to really listen and hear what the person who answers the door has to say.
What is really motivating you to get involved? Obviously, you want to FLIP NC, but tell us a bit about the "why."
Marnie: I want to FLIP NC so that we have leaders that represent the many, including me, who feel like we are not being represented. I am tired of seeing hatred win, our environment trashed, and corporations getting tax breaks while our schools and infrastructure suffer.
Andrew: You're kidding, right?! I'm motivated every day when I scan the news and see what is happening to this state and in the U.S. as a whole. I believe I have a fairly good sense of how what's happening now will be viewed from a historical lens years from now. I never want to feel like I experienced the state and country imploding and did nothing about it. I also want to be a role model of activism for my daughter, who will turn 13 in November.
How are you feeling about the 2018 election? Optimistic?
Andrew: Honestly, I'm not sure. I was so stunned by the 2016 presidential election. I was obsessed with polling numbers months prior to the election and did a fair share of political pundit watching and listening. I sometimes feel like I don't have a good grasp of what the American (or North Carolinians) want. What is it that politicians like to say? They’re "cautiously optimistic." I guess I'm feeling that way.
Marnie: I am on the fence. I hope what we and others are doing will help get people to wake up and see that elections at every level matter. We can’t just focus on presidential elections.
What’s something on your bucket list?
Andrew: To visit Scotland and Ireland. Specifically, to drink Scotch in Scotland.
Marnie: To take a trip to Sicily and the Greek Isles.
Other than politics, what’s a passion of yours?
Andrew: Being in the woods. Hiking, building campfires, enjoying nature.
Who do you admire in politics?
Marnie: Elizabeth Warren. She represents goodness in politics and really cares about doing what is right for the people, not corporations.
Andrew: Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren. I think they are wonderful human beings who sacrifice a lot personally to be great leaders and represent others.
Tell us about a political moment that inspired you, whether it was a personal conversation, a speech given by a president, or a recent "blue wave" moment.
Andrew: I was pretty inspired by the election (twice) of President Obama. I was involved in his campaign, and he won North Carolina in 2008, so I felt pretty good about that!
What would you say to someone who is feeling totally dejected by our current state of politics? And how do you stay in the fight?
Andrew: As my dad likes to say: "If you can't get out of it, get into it!" My thinking on any change we want to see is that if we do nothing, other people are deciding our fate for us. I want to be part of making this country and world a better place to live. I can't do that if I'm not involved in some way. I would say to someone who is totally dejected, "Hey, I'm totally dejected, too! Let's go canvass! I promise you'll feel better!"
Marnie: If we give up now, nothing will ever get any better. It is hard to be involved sometimes, but sitting back and letting it happen, when you could make a difference, is not the answer. If more people get involved our small impacts become multiplied into something meaningful.