Designing the Adams View Community Center: A Conversation for Comprehensive Design
My name is Gerardo Gonzalez-Gomez and I have the privilege to serve the Yakama People as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in an Architect in Training/Project Manager role housed within the special project department at Yakama Nation Housing Authority. I am currently leading the design for a community center in the Adams View Community that was put on hold many years ago.
The Adams View Community, located in the Yakima Valley, is made up of four major development projects providing housing to about 163 families with more than 300 hundred children. Over the last 30 years, the village has grown into a cluster of generations that to an extent are still isolated in this rural region with no place to gather or to teach tradition.
Community Member Envisions the Positive Impact of a Community Center
The Adams View Community Center is envisioned to be a great asset to maintaining the tradition of gathering and the effort to empowering people. It was supposed to be completed in 2009-2010, but for whatever reason was put on hold after the foundation was built, leaving behind a remanence of hope for a place to meet and for access to services. To this date, the only essence for a gathering place lays as an abandoned foundation.
While seated on the existing foundation, Shirley Criqui (pictured above; right) shares her ideas about programming for the new community center, envisioning what the largest Indian village in the northwest could be. Shirley is a Yakama Native that attended a community meeting to go over the layout for the awaited community center. When the both of us were introduced and as soon as she found out I was leading the design, Shirley mentioned with a smirk— “we been waiting for a place to gather since the late 80’s.”
Shirley is excited about having a place to engage the community in civic and cultural events. She has been an organizer and leader for a community watch group that has no place to meet or to store their equipment. She believes that kids need a place to go after school rather than being unattended on the streets. She has plans to teach a series of classes that range from sewing, wing dress making, cooking and canning.
Currently the village still faces geographic remoteness and lack of access to services. According to Melissa Kishwalk, a resident service specialist from the Yakama Nation Housing Authority, many of the families lack transportation, restricting them to a limited schedule provided by local public transportation. Toppenish is the nearest town where people can receive services and that is eight miles away.
Thinking Creatively: Include Daycare to Promote Economic Development and Childhood Wellbeing
After a floor plan review with the Yakama Nation Housing Authority Board Members, the idea of a daycare center was presented by their housing programs director. The idea was then presented to the Executive Director who soon after supported it by looking at it as an opportunity for economic development that could be accessible to a tribal member. From such an approach, the department of child care and development came into the picture as a potential partnership to give a tribal member the opportunity to start a business as a licensed care provider at the new center.
While developing the program for the daycare, I had the opportunity to talk with staff from the Yakama Nation’s Child Care & Development Department. It was mentioned that the idea of a child care center in the Adams View Community is like a dream coming true. There is concern that children aren’t receiving early interactive education and stimulus so children end up sitting in front of the television for such stimulus.
This visit was very beneficial regarding the programmatic plan for the daycare. It presented a different vision with the outdoor program where playing is learning. A program that implements a conscious discipline about preparing kids for their next stage in education by connecting them to their culture, nature and what the creator has given us; an outdoor program that has culture and language as a foundation.
Conversations in the Community Decided What Services to Include
Overall, the program for the center has developed from conversations that promote connectivity, accessibility and the tradition of gathering and teaching. The center will include a computer room with access to the internet and a classroom equipped for instruction; an office that will serve as a point of contact for different agencies to provide services like health care, nutrition, social work, etc. and a commercial kitchen that will be accessible for the community to use.