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Ben Chin (陳樂) for Mayor in Maine

In the last two years in Lewiston, thirty-eight people have died from drug overdoses, mostly related to opioids. In Maine, we are still averaging a life lost every single day. This week, like most every other week, I’ve talked to several people who have lost loved ones.
 
During the peak of the AIDS epidemic, activists used the slogan “Silence = Death.” The same applies here. Every day that goes by where our city calls no meetings, advances no policies, takes no emergency measures, leads to a loss of life.

We cannot stay silent any longer.
 
That’s why we will be working with allies at Grace Street Recovery Services to hold an event soon that breaks this silence, laying a rose at the steps of City Hall for every life lost to substance use disorder.
 
Please donate to sponsor a rose. If you would like us to place a rose on the steps for someone that you care about, please reply back to this email and let me know. At the end of the event, we’ll invite participants to place additional roses for the people in their lives that they’ve lost, or are worried about losing.
 
The deaths will stop only when our community breaks silence. 
 
-Ben 
Copyright © 2017 Benjamin Chin, All rights reserved. 
Thanks for supporting Ben! 

Our mailing address is: 
Benjamin Chin
16 Kensington Terrace
LewistonME 04240

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Over the last eighty years, perhaps no issue has seen such a reversal of its political fortunes as welfare.

At their origin, public spending policies to assist those in poverty, blunting the worst edges of recessions, were a point of pride for people on the left. In Maine, however, like so many other places, we have seen it become the opposite. Anyone who has knocked on doors in Lewiston knows that it is one of the most discussed issues, and perhaps the most common attack on progressives running for office. It gets tied up with immigration, and the worst stereotypes of poor people and people of color.

This week, we rolled out a proposal that is our attempt to change all that, to turn this policy area from a political liability, back to a point of pride. 

Below are the details of the strategy, and what you can do to help.

The idea is simple:

Transform local General Assistance programs into New Deal-style initiatives, like the Civilian Conservation Corps, that saw the challenge of poverty as a means to rebuild our country by engaging people in meaningful public work. (Of course people with disabilities and those with childcare responsibilities—the most important work of all!—will not be required to risk their health or their families to participate.) We’re calling this initiative: the “Rebuild Lewiston Job Corps.”

Right now, our system is the worst of both worlds. It forces low income people to participate in “workfare” programs that do little to develop their skills, and are connected to no coherent vision of public purpose—other than the stereotype that low income people are lazy and must be occupied. Even when low-income people fulfill these work requirements, they get little public credit, because the public sees no evident accomplishments.

Instead, Lewiston should partner with local organizations—like Community Concepts and Seniors Plus—that provide tremendously valuable public services, and can connect General Assistance recipients with industries desperately in need of workers. Home weatherization, food preparation for the elderly, dealing with blighted property: these are just some of the vital public projects necessary to meet the needs, not just of workers needing a paycheck during hard times, but for the broader public also facing economic insecurity of their own.

By meeting both those needs simultaneously, we switch people from being pitted against each other, to seeing their interests as aligned.

Best of all, we know that some of these community partners are interested in incorporating things like English classes into the structure of the workday, in an effort to accelerate the immigrant integration process. This will be essential for meeting the needs of asylum seekers, who are unfortunately both banned from working and from qualifying for any federal public assistance programs for their first months in America.

The volunteers and I have been experimenting with this plan at doors for weeks now. It's working. Instead of  welfare being a conversation-stopper, it's a conversation-starter. I cannot wait until the day that dozens of senior citizens, descendants of Franco immigrants, strike up conversations with Congolese asylum seekers as they help insulate their homes. Maybe they’ll discover they both speak French. Maybe they’ll realize the common ground they share is far larger than what Donald Trump would have them believe. Either way, we can develop public assistance programs with an eye towards building an integrated, multi-racial society. They don’t have to be a talking point for those wanting to pull us apart.

Here’s what we need from you

Help us spread the word by sharing my Facebook post about Rebuild Lewiston Job Corps. 


This only works if we do it together. We are putting big ideas on the table—from tackling the opioid epidemic, to changing the whole discussion on welfare. It only works if we demonstrate major public support—and that’s where it really helps to have people discussing this proposal in public spaces (online and off!)

Thanks for reading, sharing, and engaging on these critical issues!

-Ben

Copyright © 2017 Benjamin Chin, All rights reserved.
Thanks for supporting Ben!

Our mailing address is:
Benjamin Chin
16 Kensington Terrace
LewistonME 04240

Add us to your address book

Wanted to invite you to two events supporting a rising star in politics: my friend Nina Liang; Quincy City Councilor, At-Large.

Nina is in a hard-fought re-election campaign, and she needs our support. As a lifelong resident of Quincy, and a successful entrepreneur, Nina has fought to improve accessibility & transparency of government to Quincy residents, and worked tirelessly to engage Quincy residents in the process.

I'm proud to support Nina, and invite you to join me at these two upcoming events:

~ Quincy Reception for Nina Liang ~
- When: TONIGHT: August 23rd - 5:30PM-6:30PM (... this is a "reminder" for many of you)
- Where: Chin Law Firm - 400 Hancock Street, Quincy
- To Donate, please visit: www.NinaLiang.org
(... invitation below)

~ Boston Breakfast-Reception for Nina ~
(Hosted by Boston City Council President, Michelle Wu)
- When: Tuesday, August 29th (8:30AM-10AM)
- Where: Wu Campaign HQ - 27 Harrison Ave, Boston
- To Donate, please visit: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/wubreakfast
(... invitation attached)

I hope you can join me at these two events to support a wonderful candidate and councilor.

Thanks!
- Leverett



Join us!

Russell Chin, Arthur Choo, Leverett Wing, Lola Tom, Sherry Dong, Helen Chin Schlichte
& the Friends of Nina Liang
invite you to join them at a reception
in support of
Nina Liang
Quincy City Councilor At Large
               WHEN:   Wednesday, August 23, 2017
                              5:00pm - 6:30pm

                WHERE: Chin Law Firm
                               400 Hancock Street Quincy, MA 02171

Please join us for light refreshments and great conversations
with friends, neighbors and our At-Large City Councilor, Nina Liang.
Suggested Donation Levels
$50, $100, $250, $500,
Sponsors $1,000
Donate at the event or online at
www.NinaLiang.org
or by postal mail to
Committee to Elect Nina Liang
2 Williams Street
Quincy, MA 02171
Please make check payable to:
Committee to Elect Nina Liang.
RSVP:  (617) 657-9837
Click here to donate online


Ben Chin for Mayor of Lewiston, Maine


Friends,

When people ask me how the campaign is going, oftentimes I don’t know what to say. Most of running for office is nothing like what’s on TV. It’s about hours and hours of conversations with voters at their door in the summer heat: interesting stories, sore feet, and lots of sweat.

Last week was different. The tragedy of Charlottesville, our President’s deeply troubling response, and the incredible activism that followed: it all really re-grounded the campaign. It reminded me—and many others—of the true stakes. Winning this election is about demonstrating the possibility of an alternative path to the disastrous course our President and hateful extremists are charting.

At a time when it would be easier to just turn off the news and tune out, so many great people pledged to do great work. Thank you so much for the tremendous response to the email last week. I posted a bunch here, and here are a few more:
  • A music teacher revamping her syllabus to include how slavery is the “foundation of music in the U.S.”
  • An activist committing to bring three friends to racial justice rallies
  • A local indivisible group donating to criminal justice reform efforts
This energy translated into real street heat on Sunday. Maine People’s Alliance and over fifty other groups rallied against white supremacy. Deqa Dhalac, from the Somali Community Center of Maine, spoke at the event, with one simple line that brought down the house: “I am a black, Muslim, immigrant woman. I am not going anywhere.” Hearing that line in a crowd of a thousand people giving roaring applause moved me to tears.

Where does all that leave us going forward? Here is my favorite definition of hope, from the philosopher Maimonides: “Hope is the belief in the plausibility of the possible, not the necessity of the probable.”

If we can figure out how to win this campaign in Lewiston, it will make plausible so many more possibilities. It will demonstrate that regular people, coming together, running only on small contributions (and please do donate!), can align around a vision for a just, integrated society—and win. It is exactly what we need to make plausible right now.

We are cranking. We can do this if we stick together. Tragedy will only deepen our purpose and strengthen our resolve.

-Ben

P.S. I want to encourage everyone to participate in the campaign launched by Color of Change to push credit card companies to stop processing funds for white supremacist organizations. It’s wrong to profit off of hate, and Color of Change has already had great success pushing corporations to resign from their involvement in the Trump administration.
Copyright © 2017 Benjamin Chin, All rights reserved.
Thanks for supporting Ben!

Our mailing address is:
Benjamin Chin
16 Kensington Terrace
LewistonME 04240

Add us to your address book


Friends,

When I was fourteen, growing up in a quiet suburb, one of my neighbors went on a killing spree. In a single afternoon, three Asian Americans, an African American, and Jewish person were all dead. The murderer had written an explicitly white supremacist manifesto, and was convicted of nineteen charges of homicide, hate crimes, and arson. He sought out Asian Americans in particular, shooting up Asian groceries and a karate studio.

Most people think about Maine as a white state--but the suburb in which I grew up, where these murders took place, was far whiter than Lewiston. After the tragedy, I don't remember a single (white) adult reaching out to me to ask one simple question: do you feel safe? 

The answer, of course, was and is: "no."

Two years ago, when the racist signs went up during my first campaign, people asked me if I was surprised. Of course not. Like most people of color in America, by the time I entered adulthood, I needed to reconcile myself to a world where people who looked like me could be killed at any moment. 

In the late nineties, however, that kind of white supremacist violence was not given moral equivalency to peaceful protest by the President. Although I look back on my adolescence, wishing that adults expressed more concern over my safety, children this week have bigger worries. 

The chief authority figure of our country, showing complete disinterest in reassuring people of color, has instead fanned the flames. His statements--at best ambiguous, at worst an explicit wink to white supremacy--will forever shape how a generation of people of color feel about their country, their safety, and their bodies.

And we will persist.

Children deserve safety. Adults must be brave. After the news this weekend, I knocked on doors on Monday. And again the next night. And the night after that. Even though part of me would love to run away to some remote location and just hold my wife and kids, that is not what this moment demands, nor what will make my family safe.

What I am committed to doing, what I need from you, what we need from each other, is to stand up and be counted. This hatred has to stop. 

Please write to me and tell me one thing you are going to do to push backIt could be a difficult conversation with a friend or family member. It could be knocking on doors for the first time. It could be donating to the campaign--always a good idea!

I'm just asking that all of us do at least one thing differently this week that you wouldn't have otherwise. And then be public about it. Post it to your social media. Send it to me, and I'll do the same.

If you write back, I'd like to post what you are up to on my Facebook page. There is just so much bad news out there right now. We need more stories of resistance and hope. President Obama's tweet in response to Charlottesville, quoting Nelson Mandela, became the most liked tweet in history almost immediately. There's a reason for that.

Let's do our part.

-Ben

P.S. If you'd like to reach out to a close friend or colleague of color, and you haven't done anything like that before, there's plenty of good advice online to check out, just to make sure you know how to do it in a way that's respectful. I'd recommend checking that out first. (Here's a good article to start, and here's another.)
Friends,

This breaks my heart:

Androscoggin County has the third highest overdose rate in the state, with someone in Lewiston dying nearly every other week on average, mostly from opioids. Lewiston has twice as many overdose deaths as we should, given the size of our population.

I’ve talked face-to-face with more than 1,000 members of our community since March, and this is one of the things I hear about over and over and over again.

What’s really been frustrating: understanding the statistics, hearing so many tragic stories, and knowing that the city of Lewiston has done very little (if anything) to address the crisis. 

That’s why I’m launching the Belonging Agenda, my take on what Lewiston can be doing to tackle the opioid epidemic, substance use disorder, and mental health from a public health perspective. And it’s why I’m asking you to join me on Thursday to help spread the word.

It’s time—beyond time—for our city to act. Solutions are within our grasp. It’s a matter of leadership and political will, and that starts with us.

Can you join me next week on Thursday, August 3 for a special Day of Action around the Belonging Agenda? 

We'll meet at 4pm at 145 Lisbon Street in Lewiston, and then head out to talk with community members about the opioid crisis and what the city could be doing. We'll have pizza and a chance to debrief afterwards.

You can read the Belonging Agenda here, and sign up for the Day of Action here. My goal is that 10 people come. I really hope to see you there.

Sincerely,
Ben

PS. We’re trying to spread the word about next Thursday as far as possible. Will you forward this email to a friend? Thank you so much!

First off, 

Thanks to everyone who donated last week...

We successfully hit our mid-way fundraising goal!
(You can still donate here if you haven’t yet.)

Next, you may have seen that one of Lewiston’s infamous slumlords scammed Heather, a low-income single mom, out of her entire life savings this week. Steve, Heather’s friend, reached out because he knows that we fight battles large and small for housing justice. He's set up a GoFundMe page and I think we should help them blow their goal out of the water!

No one should have to worry about where their kids are going to sleep at night. Please take a minute to chip in. It’ll show we are all in this together.
 
I’ve been getting questions about how folks can still help if they’ve reach our self-imposed $100 limit on contributions. One great way would be to donate to Heather!
 
And in case you’re wondering, it isn’t the first time we’ve heard about this sort of predatory behavior in Lewiston. But too often people are afraid or ashamed, and worry about telling their story to anyone. It’s brave for Heather and Steve to go public. They’re raising awareness, not just for their situation, but for everyone who has suffered this way. Let’s get their back.
 
Finally, we just kicked off the first of several campaign house party events last night! It was a great success, and we are going to continue doing these, neighborhood by neighborhood.  We've got the next few weeks lined up, but if you’d be up for hosting (or even just attending) shoot me back an email!
 
-Ben
 
P.S. Anjali and I will see you at the art walk!
 
P.P.S. After the art walk, I’ll be going to a house party for Jonathan Fulford, a great guy who is thinking about running for Congress in Maine’s second congressional district, at 32 Waterview Dr. from 5:30-7. I’m sure he’d love it if you came too!

 

Copyright © 2017 Ben Chin, All rights reserved.
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Our mailing address is:
Ben Chin
16 Kensington Terrace
LewistonMe 04240

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