Open Spaces, Open Minds: Working Together As A Community

flickr photo by Amy Merrick

 

The greatest gift that a community can share is the concept of space – a piece of land, time, and sentiment where people can come together to collaborate and share ideas, celebrating the diversity which flourishes throughout neighborhoods, cultivating fresh concepts in the arts and other activities. Born out of a desire to bring people together regardless of background and create an atmosphere in which ideas can grow, Space12 offers an eclectic program of events ranging from art shows to yoga to worship to outreach, extending its role beyond a venue and becoming a gathering place for people to watch their work come to life, discuss ideas, and reach out to others. Serving as the heart and soul of the community, it is spaces such as these which are so integral to society and the individuals within it.

A Welcome Place for Everyone

Even in large cities such as Austin, finding a safe space for individuals to express themselves among their peers can be a challenge, and having a venue which openly welcomes people from various backgrounds provides a welcoming home away from home. It is a unique opportunity to meet like-minded peers, colleagues and friends and work on projects where a common core is shared without boundaries, leading to a greater understanding of community. Whether it’s yoga, a music gig, a session of worship, a gallery themed event or simply an office space or workshop, a community center welcomes everyone from all ages and ethnicities, bringing people together.

With the appropriate facilities capable of accommodating different events and classes, places such as Space12 help bring the world all into one place by offering varied programs and making them accessible to everyone – a passion for yoga or a newfound love of painting may can be ignited, improving the quality of life for those participating. Here, people can share their heritage and forge new generations of thought and innovation, as well as preserving their own ethnic and cultural legacies.

A Healing Hand

Working on an even more intimate level which directly impacts the fringes of the community which are often left to the sidelines, safe spaces are ideal settings for outreach programs which help those in need. Several centers have invested in special events and sessions which not only reach out to the homeless and troubled youth, but also deal with various social challenges such as alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder. By offering a space where individuals can discuss their challenges and receive conscientious feedback and support, a door of opportunity is subsequently opened, leading to a positive change. Safe spaces are also excellent venues not only for support groups but for active cognitive problem-solving – art therapy is one technique which, for instance, is used in various workshops and centers across the country, even resulting in its own exclusive exhibits showcasing work from veteran’s clubs, prisons, and other walks of life. Using social spaces as a venue for this technique also spreads the message of the alternative treatment as an outlet for emotion and individual catharsis, presenting an opportunity to those who may not otherwise have considered it an option.

As well as fundraising events, home kitchens, and festivals, these spaces send out a clear message – that there is hope for everyone who wishes to join for a day or two or visit on a long-term basis. In many places across the States, these centers are often the only hope and heart that a community has.

Investing in the Future

A community space is more than simply an area for sharing pastimes and enjoying good company – it is a place of learning, forging friendships, and achieving something which is truly beneficial to the greater good. Providing these spaces is a great way to invest in all generations, especially youth who become inspired to pursue their dreams and goals. From poetry events to garage sales to simply grabbing some wifi, it is an outlet for sharing and mingling, as well as an inclusive environment for youth. Becoming involved in the community is one of the most important endeavors that a young person can pursue, not only in terms of investing in healthy relationships with others, but learning team-building and other essential life skills. The vital friendships of mentors and peers, along with a feeling of goodwill and participation is the very heart upon which a community thrives. Whether it’s a goal-oriented occasion or simply a time to escape the ordinary, places like Space12 is where it’s at.

Contributed by reader, Emma Foote