CONGRESS SQUARE PARK
Community Investment in Action
By Dela Murphy, Executive Director Friends of Congress Square Park
Our public gathering spaces invite people to linger, enjoy shared experiences, bond, and collaborate across those invisible lines of division such as income, politics, or ethnicity. Parks, libraries, trails, schools, and other welcoming, free spaces increase healthy connections between people who may not interact elsewhere. They enable new and sustained relationships. They serve as civic spaces, fostering the kind of culture necessary for democracy to flourish.
In Portland, one of the most thriving free civic gathering spaces we have is Congress Square Park. Volunteers began activating the park in 2013 when it was dilapidated and at risk of being sold for development to private interests. Since that time, well over 19,000 volunteer hours have been invested by hundreds of neighbors just like you to beautify the space and ensure it continues to be open to all people and cared for as a core part of our city’s social infrastructure.
Owned by the City of Portland, the park is programmed by Friends of Congress Square Park (FoCSP), a small volunteer-run nonprofit. FoCSP organizes volunteers and fundraises from grant-making organizations, businesses, and people just like you to create an equitable, beautiful, and creatively alive space. People of many different backgrounds and identities contribute to and use Congress Square Park. It is a crossroads of culture and creative expression.
Thanks to donations, more than $122,000 has been directly invested in the park alone over the past five years.
This shows up as landscaping, free public Wi-Fi, colorful furniture, shade, and more. Donations also pay artists and enable programming.
Over 635 free public events have been hosted in the park since 2013, made possible through collaborations with more than 1,455 artists, teachers, performers and civic advocates, and dozens of local organizations. These events were generated by community members through annual public open calls for art and selected by community members.
Public health, safety, justice, equity, creative flexibility – we understand and nourish these values in our public spaces. Together. All of us. You, too.
Join your neighbors who are consistently investing in cultivating a place where all people feel welcomed, safe, and cared for as members of our Portland community. Come to Congress Square Park events, make a donation, and get involved as a volunteer or artist.
Visit congresssquarepark.org to learn more.