In the planning that led to restructure of the College House system, students proposed the creation of "hubs" or collaborative centers that would complement the College Houses-each to be devoted to a specific activity or interest. With the opening of Civic House on Thursday (see front page for an invitation) the second such collaborative center will be in place, diagonally across Locust Walk from the first one, Kelly Writers House.
Civic House serves as the focal point for community service on campus, housing many of the community service groups, and maintaining links to service learning classes, and other service groups both on and off campus. Non-service organizations, such as house councils and fraternities, also use Civic House as a resource for their service projects.
Civic House also sponsors speakers, reflection sessions, and its own service projects such as Into the Streets, PennCORP, and the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project. The staff is available to assist individuals or student groups in identifying service projects as well as in the development of training activities. In addition, the House maintains a library of publications dealing with community service, tutoring, education and social issues.
New volunteers and interested students are always welcome, said Dr. Peter Conn, who takes office this fall as Faculty Director of Civic House.
Civic Housis located at 3914 Locust Walk in Hamilton Village (a.k.a. Superblock). It is located next to St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Built in 1850 and for most of its life the home of the Rector of St. Mary's, the House was acquired by Penn in the late 1960s and it was for a time the "House of the Family," a student-initiated forerunner of the "hub" concept that concentrated on African-American arts culture before other resources had come into existence on campus. Its faculty director was the prize-winning novelist Dr. John Edgar Wideman, then of Penn's English faculty. Most recently the house has been the headquarters of the Penn Police. [A photograph of the House appears on the front page]
The first floor has a large living room which will support informal activities. There is also a multi-purpose room that can be used for both service-learning seminars and group meetings. The receptionist's area will be used to dispense information, greet visitors, and coordinate room reservations. There will be a generic office which can be shared by several service groups. A small kitchen and bathroom completes the floor plan.
The second floor will be home to the more administrative functions of the House. Four offices will be devoted to the staff of the House (now staff of PSCI). There will also be a second generic office space which will be shared by student service groups.
On the second floor are three meeting rooms of various sizes that will be used primarily by student groups for weekly meetings, planning, and programming. This is also the location of the resource room/library.
Civic House's website http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/civichouse/ will keep members of the University posted on activities, programs, and opportunities to participate.
Writers House, Year Two
In its first year, the Kelly Writers House under the direction of Dr.
Alan Filreis has become a focus for students, faculty, staff and members
of the community who are aspiring writers or who simply want to hear visiting
writers read their manuscripts or discuss their work. Host to numerous writers'
groups and workshops, the House has taken poetry beyond the usual walls
of the House through such activities as broadcasting monthly late-night
readings on WXPN, and holding the first marathon poetry reading beside a
magnetic poetry wall on College Green to celebrate National Poetry Week.
As Year Two begins, a robust website lists present activities and tells
how to reserve space for new ones: www.english.upenn.edu/~wh.
Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 2, September 8, 1998