Fighting Poverty with Passion
My name is John Coyle and I am thrilled to start my year as an Americorps VISTA at the Tulane City Center (our new website will go live next week, we are working on that!). Although I am originally from Long Island, New York, I have been calling New Orleans home for the past five years as I worked towards obtaining a masters degree in Architecture from Tulane University. I chose Tulane because of the opportunities to give back to the community as a student and through the professional practice of Architecture. I have been able to participate in the “rebuilding effort” in the city through service in several organizations during my time as a student, but my best experience by far was working with the Tulane City Center last fall.
The Tulane City Center (TCC) is the outreach initiative of the Tulane School of Architecture (TSA) and works with community partners to address problems through design. TCC partners with typically underserved non-profits around New Orleans to provide them with quality design services and help them reach their goals. Not only does the work empower communities, but also helps educate the next generation of design leaders. When I was a student I worked with the TCC to design and build an outdoor education pavilion for the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program (Loop). As a VISTA, I will be working with the TCC staff to develop and expand partnerships in Central City, coordinate project volunteers, provide project resource support and community outreach.
My first day in the office was also the first day we moved into the new building. The original office was only 300square feet of space, enough room for a few tables and chairs. The new building on Baronne Street is a 7,000square foot, former furniture department store which was renovated for TCC to host a large storefront community space, private offices and seminar rooms, kitchen, bathrooms, open studio space for staff and students, wood and metal shop and a soon to be beautiful outdoor courtyard space. With this great new facility comes great responsibility. A community based home for the city center allows for a greater level of visibility and accessibility when engaging our community partners. It is very exciting to be a part of this new chapter in the organizations history. The idea is that with this new presence, TCC will be able to operate at a higher capacity and make a bigger impact in the community. Now we will be able to host events for our community partners, and students will be able to construct building components in house. Everything should operate smoothly compared to before…but for now we are still settling in and setting up systems to manage this new space. We have ordered furniture, programed the spaces and are planning for the students in the fall semester to build out the work stations and other features in the building. Until then here are some cardboard “desks”.