GOOD

The GOOD Guide to Better Neighborhoods: Create a Neighborhood Clubhouse


\n

From 2004 to 2007, the artists Ted Purves and Susanne Cockrell ran a store in their Oakland, California, neighborhood that sold nothing. Instead, the Reading Room was filled with loaner books about the area’s rich history, and—because that rich history included the planting of abundant orchards—it was also a place people could stop by to get some fruit, gratis. Before long, it was a bona fide local clubhouse. Purves gives advice for those who’d like to do the same.
Pick your vibe. “We wanted to create a convivial, public place that was open and equal—where there were no expectations of having to be a customer or a participant in some kind of art project,” says Purves.
Have a purpose. Because the Reading Room sold nothing, people would wonder if there was a catch. “It was important to be clear about our goal,” says Purves, “which was to share information and start a discussion about the neighborhood’s history. A fairly simple message, really.”
Make it inviting. Free food is always nice, but so are less tangible things like workshops, movie days, and a conversation-friendly layout. “Often people would come by and we wouldn’t even have to talk to them because they would start talking to each other,” says Purves. “I think having a dinner table in the middle steered them into that rather than into private experiences, as a cafe does.”
Have a bathroom people can use. “You can’t underestimate the importance of a bathroom in the city,” says Purves.
Tap other people’s talents. “When people would bring forward their interests we were quick to ask them to contribute,” says Purveys. “When someone brought up an idea for a group walk, for example, or a seed-exchange board, we’d say do it and we’d put some money into it.”

Learn more: Read up on The Reading Room and other projects by Purves and Cockrell at fieldfaring.org.

Illustration by Trevor Burks.
This article first appeared in The GOOD Guide to Better Neighborhoods. You can read more of the guide here, or you can read more of the GOOD Neighborhoods Issue here.
Articles
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less
Health