Here’s the deal with those paper hearts you’ve been seeing around town

A paper heart reading "my friend" in Spanish is attached to a Portland mail receptacle on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Portland Love Project

A paper heart reading “my friend” in Spanish is attached to a Portland mail receptacle on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Portland Love Project

Portlanders may have been confused into thinking they’d slept away three whole months when they woke up on Monday morning. Paper hearts adorned several Old Port and downtown buildings in a display of affection usually reserved for the famous St. Valentine’s Day love bandit.

These paper heart designs were spread around the city by the Portland Love Project in the wee hours of Monday morning.

These paper heart designs were spread around the city by the Portland Love Project in the wee hours of Monday morning.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, the Portland Love Project — a Facebook group dedicated to sharing ideas and links to social advocacy projects in and around the city of Portland — sent out group of 15 people with the mission of posting 12 different heart designs around the peninsula. The group distributed about 250 hearts, all told.

Four of the designs proclaimed “my friend” in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. There were also hearts dedicated to causes including autism, disability and transgender awareness.

“Basically, anyone who felt targeted by this fearful presidential campaign,” said Portland Love Project organizer Laura Tennenhouse of Portland.

A paper heart reading "my friend" in French is attached to a Portland Monday on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Portland Love Project

A paper heart reading “my friend” in French is attached to a Portland on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Portland Love Project

Tennenhouse said the colorful hearts were in direct reaction to the election of Donald Trump as president. She wanted to do something tangible to comfort and reassure anyone who felt marginalized by the candidate’s campaign rhetoric.

“A lot of people are feeling fearful and aren’t sure they’re welcome here,” said Tennenhouse, who is currently studying for her masters degree in theology.

For the record, she said she’s not the St. Valentine’s Day bandit who annually papers the city in red hearts. But she’s definitely inspired by the mystery person.

While out putting up the hearts before light on Monday, Tennehouse said she realized she wasn’t alone in her quest. Someone had already been putting up hearts that said, “I love you neighbor.”

The Portland Love Project has no immediate plans to put up more hearts, but Tennenhouse said she hopes the Facebook group can continue to brainstorm ways to communicate the love, hope, and inclusivity in Portland.

“And, hopefully, get some momentum to make sure there’s action behind the words,” she said.

A paper heart reading indicating transgender awareness hangs in Portland on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Portland Love Project

A paper heart reading indicating transgender awareness hangs in Portland on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Portland Love Project

Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.