How Community Is Taking Over Manhattanville

Editor's note:

A new tradition begins on the Manhattanville campus and it's focused entirely on community resources. 

By
Nohemy Aguirre
May 13, 2019

On Saturday, April 13th hundreds of families made their way to Columbia’s new Manhattanville campus to partake in the much anticipated “Community Day.” The planning for the event first took place inside the walls of the newest Manhattanville building, The Forum, located on the corner of 125th Street and Broadway. The building boasts approximately 56,000 square-feet with meeting rooms, offices, and gathering areas peppered throughout, making it an optimal meeting site for the Manhattanville players to congregate. 

Programs like Saturday Science, Bio Bus, Lenfest Center for the Arts, InTOuCH, The Wallach Art Gallery, and the Columbia Wellness Center all came together in early March to brainstorm on how to successfully execute the event that was to come. As the discussion ensued, the Manhattanville group prioritized the experience as soon through the lens of their most important stakeholders: the community of West Harlem. Finally, the day of the event arrived and swarms of families and neighbors dotted the new campus ready to immerse themselves in the activities being offered. 

It was a pleasantly warm Saturday afternoon, much to the Wallach Art Gallery’s benefit, as their event involved visitors decorating tote bags with paint on the Small Square in front of Lenfest Center for the Arts. Over 200 people stopped by to engage in the activity of defining what it means to be an artist. Saturday Science, arguably the more established program of the group, hosted their usual workstation demos surrounding the theme of “Mad Science.” The activity with the most clout, however, came from The Columbia Wellness Center’s “Slime Time” event. The activity invited participants to create their own slime while learning about the surprising wellness benefits behind the popular gooey concoction. Over 240 slime kits were dispersed with parents and children working together to form the perfect consistency of slime.  

Though the majority of the events were designed for families, the Wellness Center’s InTOuCH program set up shop in the lobby of The Forum to provide complimentary blood pressure screenings and health coaching sessions for adults. Alumni of InTOuCH, better known as Community Health Workers (CHW), screened a total of 44 visitors.  

As the square-footage of the Manhattanville campus has grown, so has the number of public programming and community partnerships in West Harlem. 

Overall, Manhattanville’s Community Day achieved its purpose—to invite the community to engage with the new campus through the use of Manhattanville’s public programs. In late April, the group decided to touch base with each other to reflect on outcomes of the event, but more importantly, the group agreed that continuing to bring public events like Community Day to West Harlem would be pivotal to establishing the new campus’s introduction to the community.