Community-Led Gathering Place and Child-Directed Play Space - Central Corridor

Jennifer Strahan
by Jennifer Strahan | Apr 03, 2013
| 21 Comments

Summary:

We envision a free community gathering space, easily accessible via public transit, where people of all ages can meet for a variety of social and creative opportunities. We will work closely with St. Paul residents to determine what the community would like to see offered in the space.

Initial ideas include:
• Child-directed adventure play room: A room full of scrap items (cardboard, fabric, paper rolls, tape, wood, etc) that kids could use to construct forts, mazes, tunnels-- anything they can imagine.
• Weekly dances with a rotation of local and cultural music. Held at kid-friendly hours.
• Lounge area for socializing, playing games, knitting circles, working on puzzles, etc.
• Studio areas for working on arts and crafts projects and sharing ideas
• Music room where youth and families can experiment with provided instruments, get basic instruction, play along with other musicians or record a song.
• Community performance area – residents/kids can sign up to put on a performance.
• Community groups can sign up to sponsor activities and events.

Every neighborhood should have a community-led gathering space, but first we need to figure out what works and how to create self-sustaining centers. We would start by setting up a pilot program to test the concept and refine the model. To support the Central Corridor development strategy and bring more customers to the area, our pilot location would be on University Avenue, near one of the light rail stations.

We would spend a portion of the money to purchase and set up a space. The remainder would be invested in order to generate funds for ongoing operating costs. Once the model for a community-led gathering space is refined, we would like to work with St. Paul Parks and Recreation to bring the concept to community centers throughout the city.

About You

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About You

First Name

Jennifer

Last Name

Strahan

City

St. Paul

County

Ramsey

Country

United States, MN

Names of others who helped contribute to my idea

Union Park District Council, Traecy McJilton

How did you hear about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge?

Pioneer Press

About Your Organization (if applicable)

Organization Name (if applicable)

Union Park District Council

Organization Phone

(651) 645-6887

Organization Address

Suite LL100 1570 Concordia Ave St. Paul, MN 55104

City

St. Paul

Organization Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

Your idea

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Title of your idea

Community-Led Gathering Place and Child-Directed Play Space - Central Corridor

Give us the highlights of your idea for making Saint Paul great (2,000 characters maximum or approx. 250 words)

We envision a free community gathering space, easily accessible via public transit, where people of all ages can meet for a variety of social and creative opportunities. We will work closely with St. Paul residents to determine what the community would like to see offered in the space.
Initial ideas include:
• Child-directed adventure play room: A room full of scrap items (cardboard, fabric, paper rolls, tape, wood, etc) that kids could use to construct forts, mazes, tunnels-- anything they can imagine.
• Weekly dances with a rotation of local and cultural music. Held at kid-friendly hours.
• Lounge area for socializing, playing games, knitting circles, working on puzzles, etc.
• Studio areas for working on arts and crafts projects and sharing ideas
• Music room where youth and families can experiment with provided instruments, get basic instruction, play along with other musicians or record a song.
• Community performance area – residents/kids can sign up to put on a performance.
• Community groups can sign up to sponsor activities and events.
Every neighborhood should have a community-led gathering space, but first we need to figure out what works and how to create self-sustaining centers. We would start by setting up a pilot program to test the concept and refine the model. To support the Central Corridor development strategy and bring more customers to the area, our pilot location would be on University Avenue, near one of the light rail stations.
We would spend a portion of the money to purchase and set up a space. The remainder would be invested in order to generate funds for ongoing operating costs. Once the model for a community-led gathering space is refined, we would like to work with St. Paul Parks and Recreation to bring the concept to community centers throughout the city.

Innovation

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What makes your idea different or unexpected? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The planning and vision process for the community center will be entirely led by St. Paul residents. Residents will be able to contribute and vote on ideas and participate in creating a gathering space that fits the needs of the community.

Impact

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This Entry is about (Issues)

How will your idea make a difference in Saint Paul? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

While classes, programs, and events are plentiful in St. Paul, there are few indoor public places where people can gather spontaneously – for free. A community-led gathering space, open 7 days per week, will provide a much needed destination for impromptu fun. Benefits of the center:
1. Builds community
2. Provides children and youth with vital unstructured play opportunities for creative exploration.
3. Offers low-income families an alternative to fee-based destinations
4. Drop in destination works well for families with inconsistent work schedules
5. Kid-friendly destination for escaping cold/bad weather
6. Revitalize Central Corridor

Sustainability

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Why do you think people will recognize or remember your idea after it comes to life? How might it inspire others to do something similar in their community? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

In playing an integral role in the creation of a gathering place, people will take ownership of the center and work together to sustain and build upon the idea over time. The model we develop will inspire citizens everywhere to become involved in building and strengthening communities.