Six degrees of separation is the theory that no one is more than six steps away, by means of introduction, from anyone else in the world. In Portland, we’re closer to two degrees.

This past week, Creative Portland celebrated the four-year anniversary of its meet-up subgroup, 2 Degrees Portland, a volunteer-based initiative.

The fact that 2 Degrees is drawing 75 to 100 people to monthly meet-ups “shows that it’s something that’s needed,” said Zeke Callanan, a Creative Portland board member. “I’ve talked to people who love Portland more because of how quickly they became integrated into the community.”

“I came to a 2 Degrees event before I even moved to Portland, and I met two people who are my best friends to this day,” said freelance designer Erin Smith, a resident for more than two years.

“I love that every week there’s something like this – Buy Local, Greendrinks or Pub Hub,” said Aaron Mosher, a lawyer from Cape Elizabeth.

“You kind of have to winnow it down to what’s going to be worth your time,” said Emily Hricko, an event planner from Portland. “2 Degrees is my favorite.”

Sarah Delisle, community manager for 2 Degrees, matches connectors and connectees using demographic information and her intuition.

“It’s about connecting you with the right person so you have similar interests, whether you’re looking for employment or the right social circle,” said Rachel Irwin. “They’ve really tapped into something special about Portland.”

“I looked up networking events before I even got here,” said Emily Felger, a designer who moved to Maine from Brooklyn, N.Y., in September.

“We want people outside the state to know about all the artistic and cultural assets we have here,” said Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland. “It’s not just about lobsters and lighthouses and summer camps.”

The 2 Degrees birthday party was hosted by Portland Stage, which is introducing a new program called Rush 35. Anyone 35 or under can sign up to see live theater for $10 per show and bring a new guest under 35 for free.

“We want to create partnerships with organizations like 2 Degrees and cultivate the demographic they bring,” said Eileen Phelan, director of marketing for Portland Stage.

“I think half my coworkers are going to sign up for it,” said Trevor Geiger, director of marketing for Dispatch magazine.

“It’s a sin to not sign up, seriously,” said Ashleigh Burskey, a 2 Degrees committee member.

The Rush 35 program is in addition to Portland Stage’s community nights – typically the first and last Tuesday of each run – when theater-goers are invited to “pay what you can.”

The community night for “Our Man in Havana” followed the 2 Degrees party and several guests stayed to see the witty satire based on a Graham Greene novel.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer based in Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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