Volunteer Spotlight: Christine!

Meet Christine, this week’s Volunteer Spotlight!

Christine is another one of the original park saviors. She served on the original campaign to save the park. Since then she has volunteered in a myriad of capacities. She brings her enthusiastic energy to the park during events as one of our cherished Event Ambassadors! She is a great announcer and always does her best to connect with performers and park goers at events. Her favorite event to work this summer was the Rwandan drumming and dance event! In addition to volunteering at events Christine helps with clean up and set up days, gardening in the park, and with event promotion.

When Christine is in the park she embodies the vibrancy of the space! She is so friendly, ensuring that people feel welcome and celebrated as participants in the park! Christine started volunteering as a way to connect and give back to her community. Through her volunteer experiences she has met many new people and had the opportunity to watch communities weave together within the space.

When she is not in the park Christine works as a school Nurse and enjoys doing yoga, meditation, music, biking, and making delicious food. One fun fact about Christine is that she participates in local theatre productions. She recently played a Murderess in a local Shakespeare production. She says, “It was fun and challenging. It is not my nature to play a villain!”

We are so grateful for all the support Christine gives in the park. She is a light in the space every time she is there. Thank you, Christine! WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To meet Christine and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight: Sean!

Meet Sean, this week’s Volunteer Spotlight!


Sean has been one of our oldest patrons in the park and attends most of the events during our summer season. He can often be found in the afternoon lounging at one of the bright tables enjoying the weather with some friends and other park regulars. When the time comes for event set up, Sean is a huge help with moving furniture, taking down umbrellas, and putting up parking signs. Sean sits in the back during events and quietly observes the park happenings. His presence is sweet, caring, contentious, and helpful.

Sean enjoys the music and dancing events in the park, though he had a hard time choosing his favorite types of events. Sean is content with experiencing new types of performances in the park. He comes to events with an open mind and loves to meet new performers and guests.

When he is not in the park, Sean’s ideal day includes good weather, movies, and some delicious Thai food! Sometimes, on movie nights in the Park, his ideal day happens all in the park! We are so appreciative for all of the help that Sean gives in the park!

Volunteer Spotlight: Ollie!

Meet Ollie, this week’s volunteer spotlight!

Ollie is one of our youngest and longest standing volunteers in the park. His Mom and Dad, last week’s volunteer spotlights Bree Lacasse and Chris Moore have been advocates for the space since its early beginnings. (You can read more on their contributions here!) Ollie has participated as a volunteer with them since then.

Every spring you can find him supporting a large crew of volunteers at our annual Spring Clean Up and Gardening days in the park. He is certainly not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to volunteering. He loves to help his Dad, Chris, drill together the colorful benches which patrons enjoy all season long. Over the years Ollie has volunteered as an Event Ambassador and Park Steward. His mom, Bree, and him hosted the Wednesday night events and Ollie proved to be an excellent MC and announcer. One of Ollies favorite park traditions is opening up the park on his walk to school with his Mom. While straightening out the chairs and sweeping the floor is always fun, the task becomes extra fun when afterwards they head to Coffee By Design for a Holy Donut.

Outside of volunteering, Ollies perfect day includes breakfast on the stoop with his parents, and any time he gets to spend outside skiing or jumping off of his dock, swimming and running around in nature. If you find him in the park, he might want to teach you how to play Trash, a card game or draw with chalk too. I always enjoy when Ollie is in the park for Social dance events or live music because his friendly demeanor and willingness to help make me feel welcome!

Ollie is truly a passionate bundle of joy. When I asked him about what he liked about volunteering he said, “I think this park is cool because all sorts of people can come together and dance and play games and they might not know each other if the park weren’t here.” And he is absolutely right! People find common ground in Congress Square Park and it is amazing to witness.

Thank you so much for all that you do, Ollie! WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To meet Ollie and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight: Chris and Bree!

This week’s volunteer Spotlight’s are Bree Lacasse and Chris Moore. Yes, indeed it is our first dynamic duo!

The couple have been volunteering with the Park since it’s beginning. Bree’s journey began in 2014 when she served as the Volunteer Campaign Manager for the Portland Public Parks Initiative. Through her devotion to the maintenance and celebration of Portland’s public spaces, Bree helped to “Save the park!” Following the creation of the Friends of Congress Square Park, Bree was the fearless leader of all things fundraising. In 2015 she created the Audience Engagement Committee which is responsible for creating the programming that is in the park still today. She helped to run the first ever Congress Square Park Talent Open Call. Every year we hold this same Open Call to decide on which performers we will have fill the space throughout our bustling six-month season! Throughout the years, Chris has volunteered tirelessly alongside her. He worked on the original Campaign to save the Park and played a role in all of the fundraising that happened early on for the park.

Bree served as the organization’s first Executive Director. During that time she applied for the “Heart of Community” grant, which Congress Square Park received. This grant provided 100,000 dollars that funded the additions of the furniture, lights, and sound equipment that are stationed in the park. Now, Bree remains an active part of the Board of Friends of Congress Square Park and Chris and she participate as volunteers with their family in many other ways.

They can both be found in the park on Park Set Up and Clean up Day’s In the beginning and ends of the season with their gloves on ready to prep the park for it’s event season. Each year, Chris puts together the colorful benches which park dwellers enjoy all year. They both support the ongoing sustainability of the park through their volunteerism as Park Stewards. They come in the morning and set up the furniture and contribute to the garden’s vitality on garden days throughout the season. Finally, their whole family has served as Event Ambassadors, who introduce the performers at events.

Some of their favorite events to attend are the Social dancing and live music events. So, before they headed to the dance floor, I asked Bree sitting in the park during the Five Year Supper Event, why would one spend so much time and energy on a piece of concrete in the middle of the city? Her answer was a testament to the true spirit of community that lives in the park.

She explained,

“There are priceless moments here in which the most affluent people in Portland are dancing to the same music alongside someone experiencing homelessness. And they are friends. And they are enjoying each other’s company in a way they wouldn’t anywhere else. And that is what public space is all about!”

To Chris and Bree, being a part of the sustainability and life force of a piece of concrete in the middle of Portland is worth every moment of harmony they get to witness when they spend time in the Park. And, in the meantime it is fun!

I also asked, for traditions sake, what would be essential in their perfect day. For them it begins, with coffee and breakfast on the stoop of their house with their son, Ollie! Bree enjoys her walk to work through the heart of Portland and past the park each day. As a family, they love spending the day doing outdoor activities like skiing, swimming, hiking, or dancing in Congress Square Park and people watching during a dinner perhaps at a restaurant on Congress Street!

Chris and Bree have been some of Congress Square Park’s most devoted and enthusiastic supporters and we would certainly not be where we are without them. Thank you, Chris and Bree. WE APPRECIATE YOU! (Stay tuned for next weeks spotlight. A hint: we might be keeping it in the family!)

To meet Bree, Chris, and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight: Steve!

Meet Steve, this weeks Volunteer Spotlight!

Steve has been a volunteer and advocate of the park for many years. I think of Steve as the park’s resident guardian. He can often be found relaxing in one of the bright orange Adirondack chairs after a long day of walking. He does so right up until it is time to set up for an event at which point, he jumps up with a willing hand and begins moving the furniture and planters without ever being asked. He is generous with his time as a volunteer and frequenter of the space and above all welcoming to all of those who come in.

Though I have never seen Steve up and dancing at one of our live music or social dance events, he is nearly always in attendance, bobbing his head from the Adirondack chairs and interacting with other park guests. At our last Salsa Event I interviewed Steve for this very spotlight and asked what he drew him to Congress Square Park. He said repeatedly, “This park is fun and safe and the people are the kindest ever. This is something worth saving.”

Steve is a self described cowboy. If you find him in the park, it is well worth your time to sit down with him and ask for a fun fact about his earlier life. Steve is full of stories from his days living out west and all over the country. We are so grateful for Steve’s diligent presence, his incredible work ethic, resilience and good humor! Oh what a joy to know our community.

To meet Steve and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight: Emma!

This week I am happy to highlight one of our newest volunteers, Emma!

Emma began volunteering her time in the square this summer and so far has been a lively addition to the crew! At first, Emma was hesitant to add another commitment to her already busy schedule as a full time student, but chose to volunteer to be a part of a “beautiful and enriching part of the Portland experience.” She is excited to attend more events throughout the season and experience art she otherwise would not have known about.

Emma has been captivated thus far by the sense of community within Congress Square Park. She writes, “Whether that is other volunteers, performers, or people who have made it a habit to attend, I love to see old friends and make new ones!” One notable example so far was at the Idea’s Not Theories performance, in which another fellow volunteer, Tammy supported Emma throughout the night. Tammy happened to be in the square to attend the event, and chose to help Emma with volunteer duties throughout the night. Emma described feeling welcomed and grateful for the help of an experienced volunteer.

Outside of the square, Emma is a full time student at the University of Southern Maine and describes the only essential thing in a perfect day is coffee. Simple! Emma shared a fun fact in her interview as well. Emma has a super strong immune system! She wrote, “I only get sick about once a year, usually a mild cold, because when my twin sister and I were in the womb my mom did a sky-clad, pagan ritual for our health. True story.” In other words, we can always rely on her to be healthy and energized for her volunteer shifts.

Thank you Emma, for your bright and welcoming presence in the square. WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To meet Emma and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight- Roseanne!

Meet Roseanne, this week’s volunteer spotlight!

Roseanne is one of Congress Square Park’s pioneering volunteers and her devotion has carried her through ten years of service to the park. Yes, that means before the park was established as it is today. She first joined the city’s committee in 2009 called the Congress Square Redesign Study Group which aimed to revamp the space and decide what should be done with it next. When the time came to advocate for Portland’s right to that public space, Roseanne became the co-Chair of Protect Portland Parks with previously spotlighted, David Lacasse. She played an integral role in saving the park and in starting what it is today as the Vice President of the board until 2016.

Since, Roseanne has served the park as a Park Steward, gardener, and event series organizer. She is responsible for our regular meeting group, “Chase the Chill” knitting group which gives away hand knit items on Veterans and Valentines day each year from the park. You can find her at other events such as, Tai Chi and Try Your Hand! Roseanne’s volunteer presence has brought such diversity to the programming offered in the park and adds additional layers of community service to attendees experience in the square.

Her favorite aspects of volunteering mirror those sentiments of many other volunteers. She is in awe of the connections fostered in the space which she gets to witness as a volunteer. Roseanne shared one touching story of an attendee finding a sense of belonging in Congress Square Park. She writes,

“In 2016 there was a young man who arrived around halfway through the evening (it was a Wednesday in September and dark already). He stood around the edges for 15 minutes or so before he started dancing like there was no tomorrow. After around 20 minutes of full-tilt boogie, he came around to the back of the stage and motioned that he wanted to talk to us. He told us he was a student and was feeling pretty down. He had left his apartment to just wander around and stumbled onto Congress Square Park. “I had no idea this was here, you guys saved me. Thank you.” And then he was gone.”

Her perfect day is one where she hears many bird songs. She writes, “seagulls, pigeons, cardinals, robins, makes no difference!” And with that fact, my mind was made up that Roseanne simply brings a lightness to the square in her mere presence! She even let slip that she likes to deliberately mix up the colors of the chairs and tables! In other words, she is the secret perpetrator of more whimsy and fun in the Square!

Thank, you Roseanne. WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To meet Roseanne and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight: Nick!

This week we are happy to showcase the amazing volunteerism of Nick Kaufman as this week’s volunteer spotlight.

As a longtime lover of Congress Square Park, Nick was delighted to join the park’s “Audience Engagement Committee this spring. On the committee, he serves as a voice for the people, helping to brainstorm relevant and engaging event ideas! He has also just recently started to volunteer as an Event Ambassador. Nick expressed how he loved the collaborative process of creating the event schedule and was impressed by the community aspect in park functioning!

His favorite part about volunteering has been his experience as an observer of the park. He watches regular volunteers and park dwellers maintain and keep the space thriving by being there as good neighbors. He wrote, “Some of the best custodians aren’t even official volunteers, just ordinary folks who keep an eye out for the space and each other.”

True to his observant nature, when asked if he had any good stories from his time in Congress Square Park he wrote, “The park is empty a lot during the winter but one day after a snowstorm I walked by and was psyched to see someone in bright spandex with headphones practicing a dance right in the middle of the snow drifts. I hope we can figure out more ways to use the park this winter!” Winter dance classes may not be a bad idea!

Nick takes his observations and quiet attentiveness to the space and brings that into his creative perspective on the Audience Engagement Committee. He is kind and always willing to lend a hand if he is simply passing by. Through his volunteerism, Nick has also met our previously spotlighted, Mark Wakefield. For Nick, the perfect day includes a hot dog and a cold drink with Mark, who reminds Nick all winter that the Hot Dog Guy is nearly back.

Thank you, Nick for all of your time, attention, and creativity in the park. YOU ROCK!

To meet Nick and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Building Safe and Supportive Community

Friends of Congress Square Park is invested in safety in the park for all visitors. This year, we’ve been offering training resources to our volunteers, community partners and open space groups, and the general public. We believe that the more informed we are, the better we can create a welcoming space and assist neighbors in need.

We recently partnered with the Portland Needle Exchange to host a public Overdose Response Training hosted by Zoe Brokos, Community Health Promotion Specialist from the Needle Exchange Program. 

Portland Needle Exchange is a tremendous local resource! Zoe works with participants to provide risk reduction education, overdose prevention education, supplies like naxalone, case management services, and testing for HIV, Hepatitis C, and STDs. She also provides referrals to drug treatment programs upon request.


In the training, Zoe covered:

  • How to recognize an overdose
  • Risks of an opioid overdose
  • How to respond as a lay person to overdose
  • All about Naloxone- what is it? how to use it? who can carry it? 

Did you know that all Portland emergency responders carry Naxalone (also known as NARCAN) to treat overdoses? And did you know that the drug is simply an opioid blocker that you simply spray in the nose? It stops the opioid from slowing heart rate and breathing so the person experiencing the crisis can breathe normally again. You can never hurt someone by administering NARCAN, you can only help.

People who attended the workshop said they felt the training helped to reframe internal expectations about what it meant to intervene. Witnessing an overdose and trying to help can feel scary, but upon learning about effective and safe ways to assist, participants felt more confident in their ability to comfortably make a difference until Emergency Medical Services arrive.

Slides from Zoe’s presentation are available here and here. Read them, share them, and ask more questions!

The Portland Needle Exchange Program (NEP) is located at 103 India Street in Portland and can be reached via phone at (207) 756-8024. To learn more about trainings and resources available through NEP, contact Zoe Brokos or view their Website.

For more resources in Portland, view the list below.


Volunteer Spotlight-Pat!

Meet Pat, this week’s volunteer spotlight!

Pat is one of the original advocates for Congress Square Park. She joined a group in 2012 to oppose the sale of the so-called failed space to a hotel to be used as private event space. Since the formation of the Friends of Congress Square Park in 2013, Pat has served as the Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary of the board at different times. She helped Friends of Congress Square Park attain its non-profit status and set up our accounting system! She remains an integral part of the board today and participates in our Safety Committee. She was one of the first to show her passionate care for the space and her devotion is such a gift to us!

Beyond her wisdom on the board, Pat volunteers in the mornings as a park steward ensuring the cleanliness of the furniture and attending to general park maintenance. This simple task helps maintain the beauty of the space! And when she is not volunteering in the square she can be found, wearing awesome hats, at Movie Nights or at Chase the Chill Knitting in Public group.

Her favorite part of volunteering is meeting new people. She describes how fun it is to talk with people from out of town who are shocked to hear that Congress Square Park was once called a failed public space.

Thank you, Pat for being such dynamic and caring presence in the space! WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To meet Pat and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight- April!

Meet April, this week’s volunteer spotlight!

April is one of our newest volunteers and in her short time volunteering in the square has already made a big positive impact. April volunteers as an Event Ambassador in the Square. She was inspired to join us after watching an elementary school talent show, where she was reminded of how much she loves being involved in the arts community of Portland!

Throughout her experience volunteering in the Square, April has been able to reconnect to the arts community that she loves and meet many new people! She describes, “There’s such a variety in who comes to – or even performs for – these events and it’s amazing to be able to interact with all of them and share the experiences we have together in Congress Square.”

She has enjoyed being a part of the connection in the Square that happens both during and outside of events. For example, one night as April was walking through the Park with a fresh Otto’s pizza, she met a woman named Kathy. Kathy and her, complete strangers, sat sharing a pizza and chatting about their favorite events that happen in Congress Square Park. Kathy solidified for April how important it is to maintain free and public space in urban areas.

Outside of volunteering April does illustration, programming, and co-runs an independent game company called Lonely Cryptid Media. She describes the components of her perfect day as nice weather, a great breakfast, and a plethora of time to make art!

Thank you, April for cultivating connection and sharing your artistry with us in the Square! WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To meet April and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>


Volunteer Spotlight- Maya!

This week’s volunteer spotlight is our dear Maya!

Maya has been involved in volunteering in Congress Square Park as an integral member of our Audience Engagement Committee! The Audience Engagement Committee is responsible for creating all of our fabulous programming throughout the season. Their main goal is to find effective ways to integrate various art forms and public space event programming to mirror the diverse interests of the community. Maya brings her vibrant creativity and artistic wisdom to that process!

Her favorite part about volunteering in the Square is getting to witness other artists and organizations in action. She volunteers at many of our events setting up and breaking down and generally supporting our performers. In this way she is able to meet artists from outside her personal sphere and experience new types of art! Maya’s help at events makes them run smoothly for everyone performing and in attendance!

Maya’s ideal day is perhaps a Tuesday full of sunshine. On Tuesday nights at Bull Feeney’s at 8PM Maya runs a weekly open mic series called Port Veritas. Clearly, she brings her creativity and flare for hosting fun events to many aspects of her life!


Thank you from the bottom of our PARK! WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To meet Maya and other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out: http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Volunteer Spotlight: David!

Meet David, this week’s Volunteer Spotlight!


David is one of the original founders of Congress Square Park in 2014 and has been serving the park in various capacities since playing an obviously major role in its creation. He worked with other volunteers Frank Turic and Rob Levin to incorporate the Friends of Congress Square Park and make it a 501 c(3) nonprofit. Since rescuing the park, David has served as the President, Vice President, Chair of the Operations Committee and the park’s most diligent plant waterer. Needless to say, he knows Congress Square Park like the back of his hand!


Though his roles are many, and wide ranging, David most cherishes the space for the way it connects him with the people involved in and enjoying the park. He also loves nothing more than the zen task of watering the garden beds. In fact, David’s perfect day begins with a sunshine and watering in the park with our other dear volunteer Karen Perry. He says, “It is very peaceful and beautiful. After starting the day that way, everything else is good.” As long as there are no pigeons around, an animal he particularly dislikes, the Square is his favorite start to the day!


Over the years, David has collected many touching and humorous stories from his time in the park. He shared one that particularly captured the essence of Congress Square. He writes, “ I think the most touching was last year when talking to a homeless man playing the piano. He told me about how his mother was a piano teacher and taught him how to play. He expressed how wonderful it was for him to be able to play piano again. He was really good!” What a gift to hear how public space can provide access to the means for creativity!


Thank you David, for all you have done to create and maintain the beauty of Congress Square Park! We appreciate you!

Volunteer Spotlight – Tim!

Meet Tim!

This week, I am pleased to present Tim as our volunteer spotlight! Tim hosts a weekly Check Mates event in the square during which he coaches chess players of all levels on how to improve their game! Tim’s extensive chess knowledge and skill which began on his high school chess team, has been honed throughout years of practice. He began volunteering in the Square to interact with other chess lovers and we are so lucky to have his expert skills on Saturday mornings!

Tim favorite part about volunteering is the way in which he is able to connect with people over a shared interest and pass on some of his wisdom. One of his fondest park memories is of witnessing blooming friendship! He describes noticing two ten-year old’s, his friends’ children, happen to be in the same park at the same time and having the perfect place to play together.

For Tim, there are few things more delightful than teaching chess outdoors on a Saturday morning. Tim’s perfect day he says, is a Saturday! He describes it by saying, “…above 65, sunny, not too windy is a good start.  Having 3+ boards going is nice.  Familiar faces and smiles are good.  A pastry never hurts!” He also says that in two years, he has only been forced inside on a Saturday maybe three times. His passion for chess thrives rain or shine!

You bring so much wisdom, Tim. WE APPRECIATE YOU!

To play Tim at chess and meet other awesome volunteers in the park, check out one of our upcoming events here: http://congresssquarepark.org/events/

And to learn more about volunteering with us check out:http://congresssquarepark.org/volunteer/ OR contact: <volunteer@congresssquarepark.org>

Open Call for 2016 Arts Programming Submissions

Calling All Artists / Musicians / Filmmakers / Poets / Dancers/ Performers

Do you have an idea for a public event or art interaction in Congress Square Park for the 2016 Season? We want to hear your ideas!  

This is an incredible and unique opportunity to bring your artistic vision and talents into the public realm. Contribute to the activation of Congress Square Park and the vitality of Portland’s temporary public art scene.

Music in the Square, Art in the Square, Films in the Square, Play in the Square, Dance in the Square…MEET in the Square!

2016 In the Square events will run from May through the end of October.

To submit an idea for an event or art interaction, please complete the form below to provide general information about your programming idea.

Submissions are due by Sunday, January 31st at midnight.

A committee will review the submissions and select the programming line-up for the 2016 season.  The FoCSP Programming Committee will work with the artist or contact person to finalize an event date. Content must be suitable for public viewing to be considered.  Artist stipends will be provided by The Friends of Congress Square Park.