How hard is it to find the people you might want to meet professionally and personally if you are thinking about moving to Portland, Maine? Not hard at all, thanks to a new offshoot of Creative Portland and LiveWork Portland, called 2 Degrees Portland. The idea is simple, says Creative Portland's Andy Graham, "2 degrees is meant to lubricate the process of becoming a Portlander; it should help people slide right into the community that fits them." This process is facilitated by "connectors," Portland creatives who have volunteered to be available to talk and meet with people who are considering relocating here. "Connectors are the people you would want to meet first when you come to Portland. They understand why Portland is special, and know the places and people who make it special," says Graham. All it takes to become a connector is to fill out a short form that populates a database tended by master connectrix Laura Burden (which sounds kind of kinky—in a good way). Laura fields all incoming queries from the 2 Degrees website and Facebook page and makes the matches.
What's in it for the connectors? Beyond altruism and that that lovely dopamine feeling that comes from social engagement, it's an opportunity to activate the network of people, places and things that we've gathered by living here and to see it all from new perspectives. It's also really fun to meet the other connectors, expand your network and hear about new people who are coming to town with their talents and enthusiasms. Every couple of months, 2 Degrees hosts an event for the connectors to connect with each other. There have been two gatherings so far and both have been big fun. The next one is this Wednesday, June 1st, from 6-8pm at Peloton Labs on Congress Street in Portland. " Peloton's Elizabeth Trice says the venue for the event is an "apt place as Peloton's mission is to provide space to connect freelancers and entrepreneurs." The Levity Institute will induce organized hilarity, though the old-fashioned spontaneous type is always welcome. If you are interested in becoming a connector, please come and bring your friends and coworkers.
The concept for 2 Degrees Portland is a twist on the notion of six degrees of separation, that everyone on earth is connected by no more than six friend-of-a-friend connections. Six Degrees was popularized by John Guare in the 1990s in a play and then a movie of the same name. The concept gained further popularity through the trivia game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Bacon, in turn, returned the favor and turned the Six Degrees concept into a charitable organization, sixdegrees.org in 2007. LinkedIn has used the concept as well for the structure of its social network. Big cities and big companies thrive on the scale offered by extended social networks, but creativity operates on a more intimate scale. What Portland and other small cities lacks in scale they make up for responsive social fabric. 2 Degrees Portland is all about helping people to see how much is here and getting right to the good stuff. Be a part of the future of creative Portland—help cut out those other four degrees!