People are spending time outside, the birds are chirping, and lobster rolls are in season - summer has arrived in Maine, and what better time is there to celebrate Placemaking?
Several members of the PPS team are in sunny Portland this week, working with Mayor Michael Brennan, the Friends of Congress Square Park, and Southwest Airlines to launch one of this year's Heart of the Community Projects.
Located in the heart of Portland's Arts District and the historic Congress Street corridor, Congress Square Park is a much-needed public space in Maine's urban center. The change is incredible from just a few years ago, when the park had fallen into disrepair and the city planned to sell the land for private development. Thanks to a grassroots campaign orchestrated by the Friends of Congress Square Park and the community, the park was preserved as a public space. While this campaign brought new attention to and appreciation for the park, it still needed dedicated resources beyond the committed support of volunteers.
Today, with funding from Southwest Airlines, Heart of the Community wants to build on that momentum by establishing Congress Square Park as a key destination for the Portland region. With new outdoor furniture and a regular schedule of programming and activities that highlight local businesses and cultural institutions, the park will continue to be a favorite gathering place for local residents as well as a continuing draw for visitors.
Along with several guest speakers, the launch celebration will include a series of free community events, including Tai Chi classes, special performances by local bands, all-ages play in the square, and an al fresco dinner in the park.
Portland is one of six cities awarded Heart of the Community grants this year - learn more about the rest of the projects, and keep an eye out for more news coming out of these cities throughout the year.
Update: Media coverage of the event: