Introduction to Deep Canvassing: The Proven Method to Change Hearts and Minds Are you an organizer, community leader, or just someone looking to engage with your community around deeply polarizing issues? Learn how to have compassionate, non-judgmental conversations across lines of difference with this powerful technique.

People's Action Institute

Projects

People's Action Institute is proud to partner with organizations who share our priorities and values.

Center for Health, Environment & Justice

The story of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice started with Lois Gibbs in Niagara Falls, N.Y. in 1978. Lois was struggling to raise a family that included two children suffering from a variety of rare illnesses. She soon realized they weren’t the only ones. Nearly every family in the now-infamous Love Canal neighborhood was facing its own medical nightmare. Something was very wrong.

Lois discovered that her home and those of her neighbors sat beside 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals. This shocking finding spurred Lois to lead her community in a struggle to protect their families from the hazardous waste in their own backyards. Her struggle to draw attention to this crisis led to the passage of the Superfund Act in 1980, which makes polluters pay for the cleanup of toxic waste.

So no other community would have to face a toxic health threat alone, Lois founded the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (first called the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste) in 1980. In 2016, CHEJ became a project of People’s Action Institute (PAI), merging with other organizations to form a new national network with over a million members to build power and momentum for change. 

The core of CHEJ’s mission has always been to prevent harm to human health by providing technical and organizing support to individuals and communities facing a toxic hazard. As a proud part of the People’s Action family, CHEJ serves as a lifeline to local organizations as they confront immediate threats to their families, and works through our national campaigns to build clean, green and healthy communities.

Deep Canvass Institute

Deep canvassing is simple, yet profound and transformative technique. It begins with listening without judgment, personal stories and shared vulnerability. Everyone, on both sides of the conversation, contributes their unique perspective to a successful deep canvass. 

Deep canvassing, which was pioneered by LGBTQ+ leaders in the campaign for marriage equality, has been proven to change hearts and minds around the most divisive issues of our time, like immigration and climate change. It also moves voters with a success rate far higher than traditional persuasion techniques. 

In 2021, People’s Action Institute partnered with deep canvass pioneers and co-founders of the New Conversation Initiative Ella Barrett and Steve Deline to launch the Deep Canvass Institute (DCI). Our goal is to share this simple yet powerful tool with thousands of individuals and hundreds of allied organizations across the country.