644 Congress St
Portland, Maine 04101
History of the Meg Perry Center
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, approached 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.
As of July 2011 the Meg Perry Center is home to Peace Action Maine, the Fur Cultural Revival, the Sudanese International Association of Maine and the Rwandese Community Association of Maine.
After four years, the Meg Perry Center has become a beacon in the Portland community and has truly become a center for peace, justice and community. It has become a incubator and a source of inspiration for new organizations and organizers in our richly diverse community.
ABOUT MEG PERRY
Meg Perry was an energetic, passionate, kind and dedicated person. She filled her days working for justice, building community and bringing love and joy into people's lives. She was always ready with a warm smile or four hands to help with. Her contributions to the People's Free Space were immeasurable, and her dedication to the Frida Bus, a vegetable-oil powered bus with meeting space complete with library and kitchen, was inspiring. She logged many hours designing, renovating and decorating the Frida Bus in an effort to create a beautiful, safe, educational space for her community. She organized and attended many skill shares and put in many hours renovating the People's Free Space at 144 Cumberland Ave. For her it was truly a labor of love.
Meg went down to the Gulf Coast region to assist in Hurricane Relief efforts. She returned to organize more people to go down to the region, and they traveled down on the Frida Bus. In her last weeks in this world, Meg worked to support people whose lives were torn apart by the hurricanes. She cleaned people's homes, cleared trees from roofs, read stories to kids, distributed supplies, met with other relief workers and organizers, and tilled up soil for a community garden. The Frida Bus crashed in New Orleans and Meg Perry died in the crash. Meg died in glory, living life to its fullest and following her passion and visions. Her life is an inspiration to all. In her memory the Meg Perry Center is dedicated to carrying on her spirit as we work to make the world a more beautiful place.