The Red Buoy Award is given each year to Telling Room champions whose generosity uplifts our work and marks the way forward. The Red Buoy is an iconic Telling Room image that represents us far and wide in the community. It’s central to our identity and symbolic of our mission to make a positive impact on our community and prepare Maine youth for success. 

This year, we are honored to present Congresswoman Chellie Pingree with our fifth annual Red Buoy Award. We are thrilled to honor Chellie as a stalwart advocate for the arts in Maine and as a loyal supporter of The Telling Room’s creative writing and arts education programs. Chellie was instrumental in bringing NEA Chairman Jane Chu to visit our studio and students two years ago—a memorable occasion!

On the importance of the arts, Chellie says, “I am extremely proud of Maine's tradition of nourishing students and professionals in the arts. As a mother of two artists and a longtime advocate for increased investments in the arts, I am glad to support vital partnerships between the federal government and community art programs in the State of Maine. I believe that programs like those offered by The Telling Room are critical for our young people and that they also contribute to preserving our diverse cultural histories, and to enriching all of our lives.” And speaking about our award-winning Young Writers & Leaders program, she notes, “The benefits to our community and contributions to local literature cannot be overstated. This program sheds light on what has brought our new neighbors to Maine and what they hope to make of their lives here. These powerful stories lead to an understanding that benefits everyone." We are deeply thankful for Chellie’s dedication to the arts and her work to see that they continue to thrive and benefit our young people in Maine.



We were pleased to present 2016's fourth annual Red Buoy Award to Charlie Miller. Charlie has been a mentor in our Young Writers & Leaders program for four years and has provided vital financial support to seed an alumni program.

"Being a mentor in the Young Writers & Leaders program changed my sense of how I want to be a part of what The Telling Room does. The question I always ask myself is about integration – how do we get refugee and immigrant youth integrated into Portland society? I’m always looking for ways that kids can jump the barriers that are there if they care to. So my interest in The Telling Room is certainly personal.

And, I simply believe in the process of writing, I believe in the process of sharing what you are writing with other people, and I believe in the process of learning from what other people are writing themselves. To me, giving kids the opportunity to do this, and to come look around the corner or get outside of constraints–religious, cultural, spiritual, geographical, whatever–is important. I think what happens here is powerful."


In 2015, we presented the third annual Red Buoy Award to our friends and partners at SPACE Gallery. SPACE and The Telling Room are kindred spirits; our organizations both believe in creating opportunities for curiosity, ideas, and the arts to come to life in Portland. Since The Telling Room's inception, SPACE Gallery and its executive director, Nat May, have been steadfast supporters, advisers, and collaborators on numerous projects. When we launched our first youth-written anthology in 2006, SPACE made it possible for us to reach a wide audience by hosting our first community celebration of student writing. Since then, they've given in kind donations of their venue, marketing assistance for Telling Room events, consultation on our own projects, and helped produce events in other locations around Portland. Without SPACE's support and collaboration, we could not have become who we are today. They've believed in us, in our students, and in our projects, and have continued to make our work possible over the past decade. For that reason, we are thrilled to honor their generosity to The Telling Room with this year's award. 

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Coffee By Design

Coffee By Design is a purveyor of handcrafted, micro roasted coffee, based in Portland, Maine. They opened their doors 16 years ago with two goals—to give back to the local community and to provide their customers with a superior coffee experience. Coffee By Design's co-owners Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear are fueled by a belief that what they do as business owners makes a difference in the world. They are local leaders in corporate philanthropy who set an example for their peers. And, their support has been crucial to The Telling Room. For five years, CBD has supported The Telling Room financially through its giving programs, including their Rebel Blend grants. They are vocal champions of our work, and true collaborators in our success. We are deeply grateful for their support, and pleased to present them with the 2014 Red Buoy Award!

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Patty and Cyrus Hagge

Patty and Cyrus Hagge were awarded the 2013 Red Buoy Award because they have been two of our biggest champions. Patty and Cyrus have given selflessly of their time, energy, and financial resources since The Telling Room’s inception. Not only do they donate to our programs each year, they serve as advisors, mentors, and cheerleaders. Whatever we ask for, they willingly give, whether it’s time with students, advice, access to space for our programs, service on our board, or room in their home for gatherings and staff retreats. In honor of the incredible people they are, and for all that they do to buoy The Telling Room, we were extremely pleased to present them with our first ever Red Buoy Award at Glitterati 2013.