Terms for Going Door-to-Door

Still several weeks out from knocking on my neighbors’ doors, I’m still trying to name the thing that I intend to do. I may have to start using the term faceliving for what I’ll be doing, however, because I haven’t found an appropriate term that means, “to make a friendly introduction of one’s self to a stranger.” Here are a couple of possible synonyms and their definitions.

canvass (verb), 1. to solicit votes, subscriptions, opinions, or the like from; 2. to examine carefully; investigate by inquiry; discuss; debate.
solicit (verb), 1. to seek for (something) by entreaty, earnest or respectful request, formal application; 2. to entreat or petition (someone or some agency); 3. to solicit orders or trade, as for a business.

Both of these terms denote a desire to get something from someone, be it a vote, an opinion, or a sale. The fact that there really is no common term for introducing yourself to strangers that doesn’t include an intention to gain something from the strangers makes me step back an consider my own intentions.

It’s true that I don’t know very many people in my community right now, and I feel that knowing more of them would improve my quality of life. In this respect, I think it’s safe to say that my conquest is about no personal gain except the gain of personal acquaintances. As I start faceliving in my neighborhood I won’t be showing anyone my artwork, much less asking anyone to buy it, so I don’t like the terms canvass or solicit.

I may make cards that feature my name, vocation, contact info, and some representation of my artwork to hand out to the people I meet, and at this point of giving a card to someone I think I would feel like more of a canvasser or solicitor. Going back some generations, there was the old practice of paying calls to your neighbors and leaving cards as a way of identifying yourself as the visitor. My practice will be similar to this, but because there is a possibility that the card recipient could visit my website and make a purchase forces me to admit that I am more of a door-to-door salesman than someone simply paying a social visit. On the other hand, my primary goal with faceliving is to make myself known to my community as an artist who works right here in the north Garland suburbs, because in order for my artwork to have any significance it is much more important for the work to be known than sold. Sales will happen as a result of the artwork having a growing audience, and it is the nurturing of this growing audience that is my top priority.

For now, I guess I’ve stumbled on calling this door-to-door activity faceliving, though I won’t use this as a technicality that lets me bug people with “no soliciting” signs. I’ve given this some thought, thinking that it could make for some entertaining anecdotes in the blog if I introduced myself to strangers whose doors tell the world they want to be left alone. But, I’m opting for letting them be. I won’t go out of my way to piss people off with this project. It’s already likely to throw folks off to have me on their doorsteps, so I’ll try to keep the odds closer to favoring me.


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