Learning from Tooele (and W zoom call)

Hello clean-air-and-climate friends:

Please join us on zoom (link available via email) from 7-7:40pm MT every other Wednesday night: W July 14, W July 28, etc. All are welcome! Last week’s meeting included Joey Cauceglia, Dave Carrier, Ronan Carrier, Colleen Farmer, Jan Kennington, and yours truly. We discussed the trip that Dave and I were about to make to Tooele (more on that below) and we continued discussing policy options and assigning outreach tasks as we prepare to qualify for the Nov 2024 ballot by filing on about W Jan 11, 2023, and then collecting signatures from about Feb 27 – Nov 27, 2023. (Mark your calendars!)

Learning from Tooele: Tooele is currently in state senate district 12. That may change after redistricting in November, but in any case we didn’t do very well at gathering signatures there in 2019—our numbers in district 12 ended up well short of the target—so we need to do better next time around. To try to make more connections there, Dave and I went over last Friday, we met some great people (some of whom are now on this email list!), and our trip was successful enough that we’re hoping other folks will be interested in similar adventures in the weeks ahead, either back to Tooele or to other target locations like Brigham City and Moab. Read on to learn more about what we did, and holler if you’re interested in helping out with internet research and/or on-the-ground networking.

Background: We chose Tooele as an experiment because it has at least one good place to gather signatures: the state liquor store on Main Street. FYI there are about 50 liquor stores around the state, including in other places we need to do much better like Brigham City and Moab, and they’re good places to gather signatures because they get a lot of visitors and because the state issues permits that allow you to collect signatures near the entrance; at supermarkets and shopping malls and such you can only do that with the permission of the owners.

Internet research: We decided to focus on houses with solar panels, thinking that folks there might be disproportionately interested in Clean The Darn Air. It took a good bit of work (20 hours?), but we used the satellite view of Google Maps to identify addresses for about 200 houses with solar panels and then created a spreadsheet of those addresses and a route map to follow while door-knocking. (When we were there in person we spotted a nearly equal number of houses that had added panels in the year or three since Google Maps had taken their satellite images, so we added those to the spreadsheet; overall we estimate that about 360 houses out of 11,000 total in Tooele have solar panels, a 3% figure that seems reasonable.)

On-the-ground networking: Dave and I put Clean The Darn Air stickers on our shirts and spent about 3 hours door-knocking, not counting an hour for lunch at Bonneville Brewery, which we both enjoyed! We covered 36 houses, which was not bad, especially since Dave was on crutches with a broken ankle. Folks at 7 of those houses (20%) expressed interest and shared an email address with us (!). Of the remainder: some 24 houses (66%) had No Soliciting signs or nobody answered; folks at 2 houses (6%) were not interested (both were pleasant, although one tried to talk our ears off about nuclear power and “the climate is always changing” and things like that); one (3%) was noncommittal; and two (6%) were interested but busy so we’ll send them something in the mail (see below). Our door pitch was simple and straightforward—“We’re from an environmental group called Clean The Darn Air, we’re working on a clean air and climate effort, and since you have solar panels on your house we thought you might be interested in giving us some feedback on our idea or perhaps even getting involved”—and we enjoyed talking with folks about all sorts of things, including why they got solar panels: everything from clean air and climate to saving money and being independent of the grid.

Next steps: We’re going to continue networking with the good folks we met who expressed an interest in the campaign. And we’re going to continue the experiment by (1) sending snail-mail to some of the addresses in Tooele where we’ve seen solar panels: we can judge if that’s a good way to network by seeing if those folks join our email list or otherwise respond; (2) following up about the solar panels we saw on some commercial businesses, including a pharmacy and a Catholic high school; (3) going back to Tooele for more door-knocking; and (4) doing similar research and networking efforts in Brigham City and Moab and other locations around the state. Holler if you’re interested in helping out… networking now will pay dividends when it’s time to gather signatures in 2023!