Amnesty International

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What Happens When You Stop and Talk to a Clipboard Person

Kasigo Tshwene of Amnesty International appeals to a passerby at Astor Place (Photo: Anaka Kaundinya)

Kasigo Tshwene of Amnesty International appeals to a passerby at Astor Place (Photo: Anaka Kaundinya)

I can come up with a handful of half-decent excuses to not talk to a canvasser on the street, ranging from the whiny to the legit– I really am too broke to help. But to tell the truth, I also don’t want to get into a difficult conversation about the dismal state of the world. Don’t we have enough of that shoved down our social media feeds everyday? So yes, turns out I am that person that we wrote about in October, the one who brushes past Amnesty International canvassers. There’s an art to it, too: first I let my gaze turn steely, then I tighten the grip on my bag and put on an air of a person with a purpose. It works like a charm and at worst, I’m left with a slight twinge of guilt.

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Excuse Me, Do You Have a Moment to Read About the Life of a Street Canvasser?

(Photo: Michael Garofalo)

A canvasser gets a bite on Washington Place (Photo: Michael Garofalo)

Do you have one minute to stand up for human rights?

No, nowait! Don’t click away from this page! I’m not one of those clipboard toting canvassers that you see half a block away and cross the street to avoid talking to. They’re part of the city’s ambient-level background noise, like Sbarro storefronts or subway etiquette ads. But when I saw three Amnesty International canvassers standing on St. Marks Place yesterday morning, I found myself wondering what it must feel like to stare denial in the face all day long.

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