Annual Meeting of the League of Women Voters of the Portland Area
Please join us for the sixth Annual Meeting of the League of Women Voters of the Portland Area. RSVP here.
This is a fantastic opportunity to connect with fellow advocates and weigh in on our chapter's business.
The evening's agenda is as follows:
We hope to see you on May 9th!
"The Past isn't dead. It isn't even past." William Faulkner's observation about history shaping the present proved to be apt during discussions of two books: Jon Meacham's Soul of America (February) and Tommy Orange's There, There (April). The book discussions were a collaboration of the Greater Portland League and the Portland Public Library and were held at the Riverton Public Library.
Meacham examined instances of deep cultural and political divides in the US since the Civil War, depicting them as a struggle between the "better angels of our nature" (citing Abraham Lincoln's phrase) and the forces of fear and strife. Participants discussed the unsettling similarities with the isolationism of the 1930s or with McCarthyism in the 1950s. They agreed that effective reform happens only with grass roots efforts in tandem with enlightened leadership, noting the eventual success of women's suffrage in 1920 or the strides made during the Great Society reforms in the 1960s. Readers ultimately saw Meacham's analysis as reassuring: we've been through times like these before and we've seen our way to better times. Participation in civic life, especially through voting, is key.
Tommy Orange's devastating portrait of the challenges faced by urban Indians in There, There shows the truth of Faulkner's maxim. Discussion focused on the effects of violence and dislocation (physical and cultural) at the hands of a Euro-American power structure, a legacy that stretches back five hundred years and continues to today. The individual stories of alcohol abuse, drug trafficking and family separation offered a very bleak picture of the characters who came together at a Powwow in Oakland. While offering an overwhelmingly tragic vision, some of Orange's characters find reconciliation and salvation for themselves and their children by rediscovering and embracing their Indian culture.
The two-book discussion collaboration with the League was part of the Portland Public Library's "Choosing Civility" initiative. Each book triggered unsettling reactions and potentially conflicting points of view among participants. Certainly food for thought as the League and Library each explore how to ensure fuller participation in our democratic institutions.
League members and guests spent an informative March 28th evening with three Deering High students who had participated in the "Can We?" project and several of the project organizers and facilitators. Following a short video that captured some of the highlights of students interacting with each other during a multi-day retreat, the students answered questions from the audience about how the project had changed their outlooks and ways of interacting with others, particularly others with different views about difficult-to-discuss political topics.
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. The project 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. Waynflete applied for and has received a grant to continue and expand this program. The LWVPA looks forward to helping in any way possible since this work promotes many of the core values of the League.
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.
Read our May 2019 Newsletter
Read our April 2019 Newsletter
Read our March 2019 Newsletter
Read our February 2019 Newsletter
Read our January 2019 Newsletter
Read our December 2018 Newsletter
Read our November 2018 Newsletter
Read our October 2018 Newsletter
Read our Fall 2018 Newsletter
Read our Summer 2018 Newsletter
Read our May 2018 Newsletter
Read our April 2018 Newsletter
Read our March 2018 Newsletter
Read our February 2018 Newsletter
Read our January 2018 Newsletter
2016-2017 Newsletters Newsletters from the archive.
PO Box 7904
Portland, ME 04112
207-622-0256, ext. 3
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