The Meg Perry Center started in 2007 out of a collaboration to start a center for peace, justice, sustainability and community in Portland, Maine. Several different groups started meeting early that year to create a vision for a center that would be accessible to the community and build connections and collaborations between the diverse work that we involved in. Several groups were without an existing space and other groups had to move for different reasons, so we were seeking a space in downtown Portland that we could call home. Former Peace Action Maine Director, Danny Muller, met with Saul Fontenot-Amedee, an organizer for the People's Free Space, about a store-front space that he had found on Congress St. Peace Action Maine had been based at the Peace and Justice Center for many years on the 4th floor of a building on Center Street and the People's Free Space was in small store-front in the East End of Portland.
Both organizations had to move and so they decided to join forces together and collaborate on creating a center on Congress St. At one of the first meetings, we were trying to come up with a name and Wells Staley-Mays from Peace Action Maine suggested that we name the center after someone who inspired us. After a few names were put out, someone said "the Meg Perry Center" in honor of People's Free Space organizer Meg Perry who died in 2005. As soon as it was said, we knew that was the name and added the byline of "for Peace, Justice and Community."...
Since the founding of the Meg Perry Center in 2007, the Center has changed, grown, and given birth to many organizations and projects. The People's Free Space changed into the Foglight Collective and after a year the Foglight Collective dissolved and its project Local Sprouts Cooperative started using the Center as an organizing space. Peace Action Maine and other organizers have organized many events, music shows, workshops and talks. In 2008 and 2009, several new organizations became based at the Meg Perry Center including the Portland Food Co-op, the Fur Cultural Revival (a part of the Darfur Community Centyer of Maine), and Centro Latino. The organizational structure of the Meg Perry Center was changed and brought under the banner of the Community Building Collaborative, so that the center would be run collaboratively by the different organizations that were based that the center.
Unfortunately, in October 2013, we lost our lease at 644 Congress Street. Before we left, the center's energy was beginning to swirl in a mixture of art and activism, with the addition of the Hidden Ladder Collective. Their inclusive, interactive, and collaborative shows and events helped to bring in a lot of new young faces. Some of their shows were fun, such as Artcade, or Rip and Tear. Others dealt with serious matters like the Inprisonment of the Cuban Five. and Water Privatization.
After six years, the Meg Perry Center became a beacon in the Portland community and the primary center for peace, justice and community. It served as an incubator and a source of inspiration for new organizations and organizers in our richly diverse community, and hopes to fulfill that role once more.
We are currently on the lookout for new spaces, and hope to be back in action by Summer 2014. If you are interested in being involved, please contact us! We remain dedicated to helping our community, and we hope to continue Making Positive Change.
Check out some of the art shows on the Hidden Ladder Collective Website: