Hartland is a rural/suburban community with a population of about 27,000. The old Hartland High School on M-59 was turned into the Hartland Educational Services Support about 10 years ago when our new high school opened. Still affectionately called the old high school, it has become a well-used building including an alternative high school, community college classes, senior center, music and theater shows, preschool, preschool special education, community education classes, exercise and walking, weight room, gem and mineral club, gymnastics, and more. In the immediate area around the old high school there is an assistive living facility, a Target, strip malls, and apartments.
There is no casual gathering place for users of the old high school to relax and interact before or after activities. In the community as a whole there are only a minimal number of meeting places.
In the building’s old cafeteria there is a raised area, up several steps, which has been used as a default site for assembling meals for Meals On Wheels. It has windows overlooking the alternative high school’s gardens, but usually it is just filled with boxes and tables and looks dark and dreary. This area is in a well-traveled path within the hallways. Down the steps and across this walkway is an area used for gymnastics classes.
Our goal is to create a year-round gathering place with an atmosphere that encourages interaction and socialization among community members and where community groups can hold casual meetings.
Community Ed plans to wall off the gymnastics area from the raised area and create an eating spot. They will put in round tables and chairs for the alternative high school students to eat their lunches in this space. At times other than lunchtime, the area will be open to building visitors to use the tables and chairs. Wireless internet will be added. This will be a good start for creating a community place, and we think it could be a more inviting place, or “Chill Area” if the place was freshened up with bright paint, a large Poetry Word Wall, a cabinet of board games, and bright art on the walls.
A place like this could encourage interaction, socialization, and the sharing of ideas across many different groups of people who utilize the building. It could bring people from different generations to interact and get to know one another. For example, a place like this could be a cool place for young adults to chill out, seniors to chat with other visitors, or it could just provide entertainment for parents bringing their toddlers in for gymnastics. A place like this could provide a cool location for up to about 120 people to gather for casual meetings, such as artist collaborations and demonstrations.