At core, it’s a simple idea: if you want to know what matters to people, what would make their lives better, just ask them.
Simple enough, and yet still too rarely done. There’s no shortage of organizations claiming to center the voices of marginalized communities without taking the time to build their strategies based on what marginalized people have to say about their own lives.
Down Home North Carolina (DHNC) is charting a different path. Founded in 2017, the organization started with with a six-month listening canvass at Division of Social Services offices, Walmarts, food banks, and four thousand homes in low-income neighborhoods in North Carolina’s rural Alamance and Haywood Counties. Canvassers heard members of a multiracial, rural working class explain their concerns about meeting basic needs, their desire to come overcome divisions, and, above all, their willingness to fight for better conditions. Analyzed in a report titled “No One’s Ever Asked Me Before: Conversations with North Carolina’s Rural Communities,” these findings offer important context for rural organizing in the South.
Read the rest at Scalawag.