The "Can We?" Project is an experiment in revitalizing democracy that engages young people in civic discourse and takes direct aim at bridging the deepest societal divides through dialogue and curiosity. Building on the school's history of valuing diversity as a condition of excellence--including its particular commitment to Portland's resettled refugee communities--the "Can We?" Project recruited 29 high school students with diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and political viewpoints from six equally diverse public schools and Waynflete. We delivered a multi-faceted program over a four-month period designed to cultivate the participants' empathy, to train them to bridge differences through honest conversation, to challenge them to propose solutions to pressing and politically contentious issues in Maine, and finally, to present their ideas to gubernatorial candidates last spring in an interactive forum. Because of its success, past participants and adult program creators are now working to replicate the model in other parts of the country. You will hear from several students and adults who were directly involved and who are excited to present their work to the League of Women Voters.
LWVPA members and friends enjoyed a lively discussion on November 14th at our 3rd bi-annual post-election Whine and Wine event held this year at PelotonLabs. The panelists, Marpheen Chann (Democrat), Barbara Harvey (Republican), and Dick Woodbury (Independent), shared their views on how the recent elections are likely to affect the next session of the Maine State Legislature. They addressed questions from the audience on topics such as civility in political discussions, the potential for expansion of ranked choice voting to the election of state officials, legislative priorities for their parties, the role of citizen initiatives in the legislative process, automatic voter registration, and ways of achieving more gender balance among elected representatives. It was a delight to hear the panelists offer thoughtful answers to the audience's questions in an atmosphere where all views were respected and differences among the panelists were discussed in a civil manner.
Marpheen Chann, a Digital Strategy Consultant and Board Member of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, is a gay, first-generation Asian-American who was born into a Cambodian refugee family and adopted by an evangelical, white working class family. He is a Portland, Maine-based thinker, writer, and speaker on LGBTQ+ and immigrants' rights, social justice and equality. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Maine and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law. Chann ran for Portland City Council in 2017. (website here)
Barbara Campbell Harvey of Portland was elected as Secretary of the Maine Republican Party in 2015 and unanimously re-elected in 2017. In addition to her vast experience with Republican political organizations across Maine, Ms. Harvey also has served in a variety of positions for well-known organizations such as the Maine Education Loan Authority Board, LearningWorks, First Radio Parish Church of America, and Friends of the Blaine House. Ms. Harvey received her Master's Degree in political science at Northeastern and lives in Portland, Maine. (website here)
Dick Woodbury, an economist and politician, served as an unenrolled (or Independent) State Senator from Maine's 11th District, beginning in 2010. Before that, he served three terms (2002 – 2008) in the Maine House of Representatives. He has been a visiting scholar with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and written extensively on tax reform in Maine. In 2014, Woodbury and others introduced a Maine citizen's initiative to replace the state's plurality voting system with a ranked choice voting one.
2018-2019 Board Meetings are held from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on the first or second Monday of most months. Meetings are open to all League members and held at LWVME/MCCE's second floor conference room, 565 Congress St., Portland.
Monday, January 7, 2019, 9-11 a.m.
Monday, March 4, 2019, 9-11 a.m.
Monday, April 8, 2019, 9-11 a.m.
Thursday, May 9, 2019, 5:30-8:00 p.m., 190 Middle Rd., Presumpscot Room, Falmouth, ME 04105.
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Portland, ME 04112
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