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Homework n' Hoops Week 2

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So today at Homework n’ Hoops, I started to think about how designed spaces are political and convey messages to those who enter them. When one enters the main room in the Loring Nicollet-Bethlehem Community Center, you can easily see that the space used to be a church. When I looked into the history of the community center, I found that it had in fact been the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church which began to offer social services to children and families in 1958. Slowly, the church’s activities, which were operating cooperatively with another church site, evolved into the community center it is today. The community centers merged in 1972 and were sponsored by churches, the county, the city, and even the state of Minnesota.

The atmosphere of the Homework n’ Hoops program is one of both fun and learning. Having had past experience with tutoring children, I was initially surprised at how well behaved the children are. I think a possibility for this behavior might be the church atmosphere. Although the space is currently set up like one would expect a children’s learning environment to be, traces of the church are glaringly obvious. The gothic arched windows, the arch of the ceiling, and the general layout of the center is clearly that of the preexisting church. Although it might not be the actual cause of the children’s behavior, the presence of the church’s frame adds to the feel of the location. It’s interesting to think about.

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