Here’s what our partners, participants, supporters, and more have had to say:

Jill Duson
City Councilor & Former Mayor, City of Portland, ME

“This collaborative partnership has enhanced the city’s sensitivity to issues of cultural bias and broadened the range of approaches taken as an institution to address issues of inclusion and respect for all segments of our municipal family. Art At Work has played a key role in helping departments, city employees and residents to build bridges and address challenges as a community.”

Nick Mavadones
Former Mayor, City of Portland, ME

“As public servants we need to be proactive and innovative in coming up with ways that bridge the considerable divides between newly arrived immigrants and refugees and those of us who have made Portland our home for generations. It is part of our culture to care about people and to take care of each other; but there are few formalized methods or structures in place that bring us together across the barriers of race, class, national origin, and to share life stories and build the kinds of relationships that keep us on track during difficult times. ‘Public Works’ is a structured approach to creating and sustaining these connections and builds on the excellent work done in the city through the partnership with Art At Work.”

Joe Loughlin
Acting Police Chief, Portland Police Dept.

“We had no idea that the outcome would be this outstanding. The photographs in the hallways, reading poems at roll calls, it’s brought us a different sense of who we are and what we do. It’s changed a lot of minds about the police and about poetry.”

Kate Webb
Shop Steward, Dept. of Recreation, City of Portland, ME

“The act of making art allows us to play, to expand our minds, to experience joy and connection to something greater than just the details of our various jobs. I would love to have all city employees have the chance to experience that kind of pride in what we do as public service people.”

Pat Finnigan
Assistant City Manager

“In choosing the three departments to begin working with, Marty chose the most misunderstood and most stressed departments in the municipal system – police, public works, health and human services. The Arts At Work Initiative has already made a real transformation for our employees. Should we already have had respect for each other? Yes. But is municipal government set up to give that respect a chance to be made visible? Rarely. For the city councilors, with increasing pressures regarding money, layoffs, ad budget cuts, the challenge is to get the arts to be as central, as core to our community, as a police cruiser or a water fountain.”

Ed Suslovic
Former Mayor, City of Portland, ME

“Art At Work made a huge difference to city workers when we had the worst layoffs in our history. Having the work by city employees up in the Council Gallery, where all of us, union, management, city councilors, myself as Mayor, had to walk by to get to all of our meetings and deliberations and public hearings – we saw who we were dealing with, the intelligence, heart, the commitment that city workers, the service, they were giving to make this city great. It hit me every time, and I know I’m not the only one.”

Officer Gayle Petty
Portland Police Department

“People have stopped me on the street – ‘I saw you in the calendar’ – people I don’t even know, to say that reading my poem was the first time they ever thought about what it was like to be a police officer.”

Commander Mike Sauschuck
Portland Police Department

“Police are communicators by nature, but communicating through artwork was overwhelmingly positive. It’s made a bigger difference than I thought possible.”

Leslie Kaynor
Surveyor, Public Works Dept., City of Portland, ME

“I don’t consider myself a writer and these days I rarely write anything except e-mails. I was anxious about going to the city of writers group led by Marty Pottenger. I’ve gone to two sessions and have found them both very enriching. I’m liking taking this time to write and I’m sometimes surprised by what comes out on my paper. And it’s a delight getting to know other city workers in a different way and experience the sharing, inspiration and the encouragement.”

Dave Melendez
Shop Steward, Snowplow Driver, Street Repair

“With our male egos and attitudes, we don’t get into the art thing too much. When we get all busy, we tend to forget the humanistic aspects of your job. At public works, we’re like the firefighters and the police. Those guys don’t get out unless we get our job done first. There’s a bit of tension sometimes, especially during the winter months. This (project) was able to bring us all together in a different alley. We were all coming from a different place. It was a lot of fun.”

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