Last month I wrote a blog post for Enterprise linking the inspiration I have gained from Lina Bo Bardi’s work, particularly SESC Pompeia, with the aspirations our team has for the Baptist Town Community Center. I reference a quote of hers that I read in Rowan Moore’s Why We Build about when she first visited the site:
“’I thought: it has to continue like this, with so much happiness. I returned many times, Saturdays and Sundays, until I really got it – understood those happy things people were doing.’”
As we celebrated the opening of the Baptist Town Community Center, I was reminded of the lessons I learned from SESC. Here, we similarly (albeit within a shorter time frame and smaller budget) worked with the bones of an existing building. We set up shop within the Baptist Town neighborhood and attempted to make small and useful additions to a place that is already vibrant with life and energy.
After one month of operations, I’m not ready to write any grant reports about “measurable impacts” or “long-term outcomes”, but the number of people who are participating and enjoying the center is really promising. In June we had Zumba classes, community movie nights, and offered job application assistance. Yolande’s art classes were a huge success, sometimes drawing more than twenty-five people. To me, this is the goal of social impact architecture; to make a space like the Baptist Town Community Center a happy place.