Chapter 9, On making a teen space, part 3

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Soft opening today.

No fanfare, just … open. A room, and then room for ironing out the kinks, room for it to be slighly incomplete, but full enough to get the ball rolling.

So how is a teen space made?

Step, by step, by step, by step.

Best practices can tell you what you should start with, the attitude that you should go into this endeavor with, but you won’t know what you need and what you’re missing until you just do. 

Side note that I have to relive over and over: 1 days before soft opening: the big screen UHD TV arrives, with the Apple TV box set to arrive Friday…. and  I realize, I forgot to order the mount. Woops.

How my day went:

I’m running around today like a chicken without a head. I intend to get to work earlier than usual, but that doesn’t happen. I’m just not a morning person. My awesome friend and colleague brings me a congrats card and *squee* a cannoli.

I get in, make a phone call to a vendor, fill out more orders for things I didn’t realize I was missing (thinking the peeps in purchasing may kill me), snag a dustpan from our awesome janitorial staff to clean up the dust from the holes in the wall that our electricians drilled into to get some awesome plugs, try and fix up the room as much as possible, make some more emails, and all around have nervous sweats that I think smell.

LIT is also there installing the wide format photo printer, but had to bring up another piece of old furniture to accomodate it. Side note to buy a new table to match with the furniture. Good news is that Facilities also brings up filing cabinets so I can begin to file away equipment manuals in an orderly fashion, but I’m too wired to even sit still.

2:30 arrives. 10 minutes after school lets out.

I know for sure that kids won’t come in right away. But the purpose of opening at 2:30 was to make sure that we were available as much as possible as a drop-in program.

I pace. I try and organize more. At around 3:30pm, they slowly trickle in.

JJ logs onto our desktops for the first time with his library card. He watches YouTube videos. I try and get him to fiddle with the midi controller and on Garageband, and am not too successful, but consider it a win anyway.

Two more come in, my awesome volunteers. They hug. E is fascinated with the Wacom tablet, but I don’t have Creative Cloud, so instead I set him up on a browser-based drawing program and he starts tracing over pictures (or defacing them, take your pick).

T nettles me to use the drone. I break it out of its box and he gets to work reassembling it.

I break out the Polaroid camera and take some pictures, and they hate me for it, but are fascinated that it’s “old fashioned!” (I have a legitimate Polaroid camera at home; I should bring it).

I get bothered by the silence, even though they’re pretty much shouting at each other across the room. J comes in, says hi, and needs to take his DMV test. I set him up on our desktop.

Then JJ starts DJing. Three more kids come in that I’ve only met once before — friends of Ti. And all of a sudden, its a dance party  in the middle of the room.

Around 4:30, P and E arrive, and that makes 9 (not counting another potential volunteer that dropped in and I talked with earlier; two teen students workers are in there fiddling around and I don’t add them to the tally, either).

And they’re all… doing their own thing. Dancing. Talking. Doing homework. Taking a DMV test. Flying the drone and chasing it around the room and learning how to do wheelbarrows. Cl drops in, ready to hang out and be loud and obnoxious, and somehow endearing despite it.

Two more come in: Ca and Jo, who are infinitely more interested in the photography equipment and the green screen and learning digital arts. They start tinkering with the Polaroid, watching educational YouTube videos, and toward the end of the day, start messing with the light kits and moving stuff around to work for them.

And they all moved naturally from one thing to another, from wondering why the Xbox One won’t connect, to putting on a movie, to playing Uno.

I tallied 12 officially in the space for soft opening today.
There were holes in the wall and in the ground and I was missing: XLR cables, a sound booth, a mounted TV, and more.

And it’s pretty phenomenal.

J passed his learner’s permit test today too.


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