Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ah, Spring

By Pilar Oberwetter

“Excuse me, but can you spare a minute for [insert cause here].”

Rather than look at fashions or flowers, I have come to associate the onset of DC’s spring with the arrival of what I have termed the “corner warriors”—the young idealists who fight for their cause, clipboard in hand, standing on street corners, and calling out to one pedestrian at a time.

Initially, I engaged them. I heard their speeches. I debated their points, and by the end, I gave them a smile and my email (although rarely money—I, too, was working for my own nonprofit cause which simply did not permit financial support of the causes of others). However, with time, I have hastened my step, played with my phone and turned up the volume of my ipod, all in an effort to make it past these corner warriors without interaction. If possible, I want to reach my destination intact, without the distraction of child poverty or animal rights.

With the myriad of methods of reaching an audience and engaging the issues, I sometimes question if street-corner solicitation is an effective way to promote a nonprofit cause. It seems unnecessarily invasive and perhaps counter to the issue—as interrupting someone’s walk to work or lunch hour would alienate rather than attract. However, before I stand by this conclusion, I remember that once-upon-a-time, I actually did have a minute to spare. And I suppose that as long as at least one person does, then the corner warriors should keep up their fight.


Sonya Behnke said...

Being a corner warrior has got to be worse than dressing up as a chicken and handing out restaurant coupons. I can't decide whether to admire these young folks or slap them upside the head.

Tamara said...

Sonya, I agree. I took out my cell phone to avoid talking to one for the millionth time yesterday. He asked me, "what's your favorite plant?" What's worse is when they ask if you "have a minute for the environment." If I don't stop does that mean I don't care? I love the environment, I do!