Portland’s Meg Perry Center plans to expand, move to East Bayside

Posted Dec. 09, 2013, at 7:31 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Meg Perry Center, which in October was forced to vacate space at 644 Congress St., may be just days away from a new home in East Bayside.

The center is negotiating to lease about 2,000 square feet and hopes to make final an agreement by the end of the month, according to board of directors member Kara Oster.

That’s more than double the size of the Congress Street office, which the center leased for six years.

Oster didn’t disclose the precise location, but said it was near 200 Anderson St., a former warehouse that is the site of several artisan food makers, as well an indoor farmer’s market that debuted Saturday.

In recent months, the gritty Anderson Street area has attracted several small businesses, such as Coffee By Design, which plans to soon move its headquarters to 11 Diamond St.

Named after a Portland activist who died in a 2005 accident while doing Hurricane Katrina relief work, the Meg Perry Center describes itself as a center for education and action focused on peace, justice and community.

The MPC had hosted art exhibits, movies and music, political meetings and a “free radical lending library” at its first-floor Congress Street location. But on Sept. 13 the building’s owners issued the center a 30-day notice to move out so that the property could be renovated.

Since then, the MPC has been homeless, searching for new quarters, as well as for new funding.

At 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the eighth anniversary of Perry’s death, the center was scheduled to hold a fundraising dinner and silent art auction at the Rines Auditorium of the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square.

And the MPC has launched a new crowd-funding campaign to raise $2,000 by the end of the month. On Monday, only about $50 had been contributed.

In addition, the center will apply for financial grants and pursue other sources of funding, according to Oster.

With the larger space and more funding, the center hopes to expand its programming, hosting more meetings, workshops and events, she said. The center also plans to increase its involvement with other civic groups and off-site events.

“We want to be more versatile … There are a lot of ways to plug into the community,” Oster said.

She admitted that fundraising has only made “slow progress,” but was optimistic that Tuesday’s event would inspire more donations.

“This is a very large undertaking,” she said. “We’re trying to revitalize the center and really bring Meg’s spirit to Portland.”

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