July already? My, how time flies! Bangor has been baking this past week with all the sun and heat. Then suddenly, today’s a downpour. Only in Maine, I like to say. We need the rain to get the shine, right? CoVort’s doors are open and you can catch me behind my desk, daydreaming about outdoor summer adventures.
I’ve also been doing quite a bit of thinking about my own goals for the next chapter of my life and laying some loose plans. Where will I be in 5 years? 10? What will CoVort look like? The CoVorters? Summer is no time to get lost in thought, however, and my mother always warned me about spending too much time in my own head.
I knew I wanted to talk to someone else about their life. My mind went to Tahmoor Khan, who works for Planned Parenthood. I knew enough about him to want to know more. Planned Parenthood rents a basement office at CoVort and thus I get see Tahmoor pretty often, but I had yet to sit down and talk with him about his life story and his summer.
Tahmoor is first-generation Pakistani-American. Both of his parents immigrated in the 1980s. When he was four, his family moved from Boston to Bangor and bought a restaurant downtown. Tahmoor has one younger sister and often thinks she should’ve been the older sibling. They both attended Bangor High, and Tahmoor went on to attend the University of Maine at Orono for a triple major in Political Science, Pre-law, and International Affairs. This was where he got into politics under the wing of Steve J. Butterfield.
Tahmoor moved on to work for President Obama’s re-election campaign around Bangor for an intense year. He took a break and traveled to Europe a bit, even went home to Pakistan see family. He came back in 2016 and joined the Emily Cain campaign for Congress because it “sparked a new light in me, I guess”. He didn’t stop there. Next, Tahmoor was hired by the Maine Democratic Party to organize in Northern Maine. Then he did work with Betsy Sweet for her 2018 Governor’s campaign and took another break for himself.
His political connections brought him to the Kavanaugh campaign. He knew traditional organizing and was excited to work with younger people and newer ways of organizing. The Kavanaugh campaign even changed Tahmoor’s idea of what politics should be. He found it too toxic and knew “I needed to do something for myself but also something that would fulfill my inner passion.”
Planned Parenthood was the first place “I didn’t feel any judgment, as a person of color in the room. When you walk into a room, you can tell people look at you. This was the first safe place.” Disappointed by Susan Collins, Tahmoor threw his back into the 2018 Maine election. All his hard work caught the eye of higher-ups, and he was hired officially as a Regional Public Affairs Organizer for Northern New England.
Now, a bit of information about the work Tahmoor and Planned Parenthood have been doing recently:
Passed LD820, Insurance companies cannot discriminate based on abortion care. Passed LD1261, Nurses qualify to give abortions without a doctor present. Passed LD37, Contraception, etc in vending machines.
In Portland, Planned Parenthood did Bridge the Gap training. It was deep canvassing on abortion stigma to ask some small questions, start a conversation, and share your story. “It helped me understand my own stigma,” said Tahmoor. “I’m not perfect. You realize and analyze, and you can definitely use that to talk to people.”
For Bangor specifically, PP has been busy. They just finished Pride Month and their First Adopt-A-Garden event. Now there’s an on-going movie series to foster conversation. The first film is Take Down the House, a documentary. Then RBG, then Homecoming by Beyonce. There will also be a Pink Action night at CoVOrt, 17th of July with 20–25 people here to get everyone more involved, especially for 2020.
Tahmoor has been “going steady and heavy to make sure our presence is well known and we are available”. In August, Planned Parenthood is planning an inclusivity-rally on the 12th because no one did it last year. And the year before that was too white. He’s currently working with the Maine People’s Alliance, the Peace and Justice Center, Indivisible Bangor, and many more to have a lively, all-colored speaker list right in West Market Square.
But none of this gives a very good idea who for Tahmoor is as a person or a coworker in our space. “I’m a very chill person,” said Tahmoor, “I like youtube. I like chilling with friends. I like going to the Waterfront. I like to just sit there and reflect on my day, especially after a long day.”
He also loves movies and is a huge pop culture person. He loves superheroes and thinks he’s gonna see Spiderman: Far From Home. Batman is his favorite superhero because he’s very complex and doesn’t have any superpowers, which makes it even cooler. For his first Halloween, however, Tahmoor dressed as Captain American, so Cap has a special place in his heart.
His favorite thing about summer? “My birthday, July 25! It’s another reason to go do something, to have fun with my friends. My best friend’s birthday is exactly a month later so I get to go up and see her in Aroostook county too. I found a lot of peace in Aroostook.”
Least favorite thing? “The heat. I hate the heat. So much. I love fall and winter so much more. I can wear hoodies, I can wear my jean jacket, I can feel comfortable. Summer’s great, but I wish it was more balanced. Also ticks.”
As said before, Planned Parenthood rents an office in the basement of CoVort. In this way, we are fortunate because it brought Tahmoor’s shining face right to our doorstep. I have no idea what I would do without his visits during the week. But I know my own experience working at CoVort is different in many ways than anyone else’s, so I wanted to officially ask:
What is Tahmoor’s CoVort experience?
“I love it. CoVort is the most amazing place ever to work. I’ve been working here for three years now, on and off. Every time I haven’t worked in this office, I feel like a part of me is missing. The environment is so open and welcome. I can come at 3AM and do work, or 3PM. This is a safe space and a networking place.”
“Lisa and Jason are some of the most amazing people and entrepreneurs I’ve ever met. I try to learn from them and listen to any wisdom. It’s amazing what they’ve done to make CoVort what it is. Being here, being in my own office, almost feels like home. I get more done here than I have at any of my other offices.”
“People need to come to CoVort, it’s the most amazing place to work. It’s home,” said Tahmoor. “You can put yourself in a corner and work or be loud and get to know people. Perfect balance.”
Summer is the time for the present, for aiming yourself on a better trajectory. Ground in the now, set goals and take steps towards them. Everyone has something to give each other. I’m happy to say CoVort is one of the places you can meet great people who have wisdom and experience in spades.
As Tahmoor said, “CoVort has a lot to offer, and will grow in the next five years! I think Lisa and Jason have one the best visions for Bangor and CoVort, and they’re making Bangor a better place.”
Message me for a day pass and you can have your own summer conversations with our members, with a cup of coffee too.