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Vote for Baker

February 23, 2010

The Center for Democracy and Citizenship is hoping that its entry in an online makeover contest is the homeliest.

In January, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship assumed management of the Baker Center,  an 11,000 square foot community center built in the late 1970s in a diverse neighborhood that has traditionally had a large immigrant population. (Vote for Baker Center to receive an interior make-over.)

But for a community center, it’s not especially welcoming. The lobby furniture is made of concrete (really!). The counter tops and cabinets–the original 1978 ones– are old and battered. While the high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows are potential assets, with poor lighting and that dated concrete furniture, the space feels cold and unfriendly.

This month, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship convened a neighborhood advisory group that will help bring to life a vision for Baker Center that reflects the lively and multicultural neighborhood in which it is located.

Some of the infrastructure is there. Baker Center is connected to an elementary school, and there are tennis courts, baseball fields, a soccer/football field, a basketball court and playground. The non-profit organization Youth Farm and Market offers educational programs for youth at an on-site greenhouse.

Some of the programming is there, too. The long-running Jane Addams School for Democracy moved to Baker last fall. Youth programs that draw on neighborhood resources–including All Around the Neighborhood, Youth Guides, and Youth Apprenticeship Project–are now based at Baker. Other site partners include Teatro del Pueblo and Head Start.

What is missing are interior spaces that make people feel welcome and comfortable.

Warm lighting, new flooring, a friendlier color palette, and furniture that isn’t made from stone would help transform Baker Center into a vibrant space where people will WANT to gather.

Vote for the Baker Center in the “Office Needs for Good Deeds” contest.

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