|Hello dear friends,
This week, I took time off of work for the campaign! What a concept. Absentee ballots went out today and it felt really good to be able to get out ahead of them and work through some big hurdles.
Monday, my campaign manager Molly and I joined the Poor People’s Campaign as part of their 40 Days of Moral Revival. We marched in downtown Detroit to protest mass water shutoffs, tax foreclosure, the dismantling of public schools and corporatization of public funds in downtown developments. It was a powerful rally! We went first to the main office of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which is currently slating another 20,000 Detroit families for shutoff. We then marched to the center of Campus Martius, a public park under the private control of mega-developer Dan Gilbert. Some protesters got into the central fountain and drew water for buckets that read “Water for Flint”, “Water for Detroit”, “Water for Benton Harbor”, and “Water for Michigan”. Children led chants saying “kids need water!” and the group sang “Wade in the Water.”
Then people took their buckets and stood on the tracks of the Q-Line defiantly blocking the progress of the tram while holding signs that quoted the public dollars that had been diverted from the general and school fund to its development. One of longtime volunteers was arrested as well as other protesters but it was entirely peaceful and nonviolent and we believe all have been released. More about that protest here.
On Tuesday, I took a break from the campaign to play soccer with my longtime team Roosevelt Park. My mom and grandma joined to watch the game at Jayne Field just north of Hamtramck. (You may remember my waxing nostaglic about this area in a previous Herald). After the game, my grandma wanted me to know that she remembered playing on this field as a little girl. Imagining her zooming around as a little girl on this very spot was an incredible thing. “How old were you the last time you were here, grandma?” I asked 11 years old.” She said.
I have a deep anecdotal knowledge of my family history and I now live near the setting for many and old family story but I haven’t merged the storyteller with the place. “We’re getting in the car.” I said, and we drove to the address of the now-long-gone building where grandma grew up. We took a literal drive down memory lane as she navigated her daily walk to the family-owned corner store, and pointed out where her parents had lived when they grew up (apparently they met because they were alley neighbors!) The house is gone, the store is gone, even the path to the railroad tracks where grandma used to roast potatos on a stick is blocked off. The area isn’t filled with children playing or walking to the park, and it’s not just the neighborhood that has lost so much. All of us who have a past, a present or a future in this place suffer when we allow neighobrhoods to wither beneath us. To share that space with my grandma gave me an incredible feeling of gratitude and a very different perspective toward this district that I’m running in. I am so proud to pick up the thread of family history here and hopefully make some of my own.
Tax foreclosure outreach is ongoing. I was thrilled to see that 25 people showed up to be of trained in foreclosure outreach. They set off to knock on the 1900 doors across the city that represent occupied foreclosed homes. I visited a few homes in the North End and returned that same day to knock on doors of potential voters as a candidate. My bike is getting worn out!
Last week we had an amazing event we called the Sunset Solstice Soiree on the top of the magnificent Park Shelton building. It was a really beautiful time and our host Harriet made it all possible. Next week there is event this Thursday in Ann Arbor hosted by one of my former classmates. Please come join us!
My favorite memory of the week, obviously, involves a child. I was bike canvassing in my own neighborhood and I ran into my dear neighbors on a little ride. They decided to help me out and knocked on the door of their next-door neighbor for me. No one was home so she wrote “Please vote for Michele” and left the card on the door. Talk about an endorsement!
The last story I’ll leave you with is this: while door knocking a few months ago, I met a Bengali man who really liked me and wanted to help with my campaign. I thought I won him over without too much effort, and he invited me to meet an entire block of Bengali families who may potentially vote for me. They told me that every time it rains, all of the houses on the block get flooded. Now they put me to work! We walked the streets and identified three ways to help: 1) Clean out debris and trash from the storm drains, 2) get rainwater collection barrels (which will be coming soon, thanks to the Sierra Club!) and 3) contact the city. We are working on all three fronts and the city actually came out and did some work to clear the drains. After yesterday’s flash flood hit many areas of the city, this block’s basements were dry!! They invited me over today to thank me and tell me I have earned their vote. They said “we don’t care where you come from or if you’re a man or a woman, we just want help. You helped us and we can’t wait to vote for you!” Awwww shucks!
If there are any ways that you feel compelled or willing to help, please speak up or sign up. We can do this but I need help every step of the way. It will be fun and easy, I promise!
We have yard signs! It’s funny how these silly things make it feel like a real political campaign. It’s quite a lot of fun to see them put up around town and it’s an honor every time someone endorses me so publicly. If you want one, let me know!
As always, feel free to contact me directly at 313-770-0818 (the campaign number, right?) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week, your candidate,