May 30, 2010
If you are lucky enough to
live in a college town, you are pretty lucky. Colleges are the world’s absolute
best amusement parks. They have nearly every imaginable wonderful everyday
experience available all in one location.
The only thing really missing is the welcome mat.
The International Town &
Gown Association (ITGA) was formed to create the best two-way mat possible for
college towns – welcoming the town to the campus and the campus to the town.
When you think of it,
colleges often exist off in a corner, up on the hill, and somewhat secluded…
for two historically good reasons.
First, very young adults are off on their own for the first time in
their lives and parents want to be sure they are safe. So universities built many
decades ago placed a priority on being sure schools were somewhat like
fortresses that kept students safe. Second, we didn’t want students to be
distracted from their studies by all the wonderful things available in the
Keep in mind, however, that
the college campus model was created more than a century ago. A clearly
different time with different social needs for students. The vast majority of
colleges were built on the old time model – walls out, windows in.
Take a look at your
campus. Do most of the buildings at the
edge of campus have bare walls facing the town while all the interior walls,
facing the campus green, have windows?
That’s great for the student experience but sends a very strong signal
to the town “Vistors not welcome.”
In fact, look at the
signs. Do you have to be a member of the
campus community to know what the Schmenkie
Building is for? Yes.
The signs are for insiders. They rarely consider – let alone welcome and
guide – the town as a whole.
The ITGA is changing
that. And I believe this is an
organization with the potential to take a leading role in reviving American
community. Check them out at: