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Second Saturday in September: Time for SPACE Gallery Block Party and TEDxDirigo in Portland!

space gallery block party with what cheer? brigade, portland, maine

For the intrepid Portlander (including your devoted editor) next Saturday promises to be even more immersive than usual. From 9 to 5 I will punch in at the Portland Stage Company on Forest Ave. and have my head filled with "Maine Ideas Worth Spreading" at the second annual TEDxDirigo conference. Then, at quittin' time, the more than 200 conference attendees and speakers will pour out onto the street and find themselves just half a block from the second coming of the creative Portland carnivale that is SPACE Gallery's Block Party. For the next three hours, the Portland Arts District will be filled with creative manifestations of all kinds. Think FirstFRIDAYxSteroidos!

And interesting for us that this is the second year that LiveWork Portland has been around to cover these events. TEDx Dirigo wasn't on our map (literally) last year because it happened in Brunswick, at the Frontier Café near Bowdoin College. This year they hope to triple the attendance by hosting it in Portland. We were particularly enamored by the steamroller stunt at last year's block party, and while no steamrollers are on the menu for this year's event, there is a much longer list of individual artists and groups staging installations and performances than last year. And although they only come from Providence instead of Brazil, this year's party band, the What Cheer? Brigade, is a 19 piece sometimes marching brass band that "mixes the sounds of Bollywood, The Balkans, New Orleans, Samba and Hip-Hop, with the intensity of a punk rock band." Wow!

When I think about it I imagine a day of extreme cultural and intellectual density. The kind of experience you expect to find only in big cities. But these things are possible in Portland because of an unusual balance of factors—call it "small density"—that puts lots of smart people in proximity to each other without crushing overhead or soul-destroying commutes. And all that extra time and energy fuels a community of non-profits robust enough to stage ambitious events like these—sometimes two or more in a day. Portland is itself a "Maine idea worth spreading." Pass it on!

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