“A mind that has been stretched will never return to it’s original dimension.”
Life at the Collegium.
At the Collegium we also share about our beliefs through artwork on the wall. After school, when the kids get dropped off by the bus, they rush into The Collegium to use the bathrooms. Sitting in our offices, we hear the commotion down the hallway. "Hurry up" one says, "are you done in there?" while frantically knocking on the door. Cheryl steps into the hallway and explains to the kids the importance of giving the other person the space and time to use the restroom properly, and shows them where they can wait until it's their turn. One of the kids in line notices the poster we have framed between the two bathrooms, and asks what does equity mean. Throughout every day we are given many opportunities to teach. Who would have known that bathrooms of all places would be one of those opportunities. We like to call it bathroom etiquette.
Another piece of art that customers often notice, and stop to take a picture of is this one to the left. We are a place that encourages individuals to choose love first. Love is a very powerful tool. It’s too often that individuals we work with or encounter don’t know what love is. Through conversation, through building relationships, through community we can slowly see that change. We start to see glimpses of hope in their eyes, that love is possible.
We think of the Collegium as a ‘third place’ where people can enter as strangers and leave as friends. Third places can address the prevailing loneliness generated by the limits of individualism and personal freedoms. They offer space where those who have been separated out due to age, gender, class, religion, role and origin can become engaged in integrated community.
In his book: The Great, Good Place, Ray Oldenburg says “the third place is a Leveler”. This term had come from a political movement in England in the mid seventeenth century that emphasized equality and religious tolerance. At the same time, coffeehouses began to become established in England. Soon the term ‘leveler’ was being applied to other areas of society as well such as these coffeehouses.
They began to be seen as places offering neutral ground in which to host the main activity of third places everywhere…conversation…for the pure enjoyment of one another as well as for offering relief from playing a role, but rather, just being human.
These places were inclusive and accessible to the general public without formal criteria for membership. One’s personality rather than one’s station in life was what counted. Hence, worldly status claims were checked at the door in order that all might be equals within irrespective of role, duty or rank.
“No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” is posted right where all who enter the Collegium can easily see. Our neighborhood is a pretty diverse one and we strive to let all of those who come into our neighborhood know that we welcome everyone.”