October 22, 201
I strongly believe the New Community Church (NCC) values their openness and inviting features and located in Shaw, DC on S Street NW, played a central role in the book “S Street Rising” has not changed since the time of high crime, low income in the 1980’s, but rather made further attempts to keep their motto the same even during the gentrification of the area. In the 1980’s, the Shaw neighborhood was a low income neighborhood with high crime and drug use. Lately, the neighborhood has improved due to the gentrification taking place in the area. The exterior of NCC demonstrates to me that NCC welcomes both the original neighborhood residents, as well as the newer residents of the gentrified neighborhood. The physical structure of NCC shows that it is a place of diversity and it is very welcoming to every member of society despite the social class.
At first glance, the church did not stand out to me among the rest of the surrounding buildings thus causing civilians to agree that it is a very open and welcoming place. It is a regular red/brown brick building with nothing in front of it that stands out. (The only physical difference is that there is a pointed top). By blending in with the neighborhood, the church indicates that it is very accepting and that there is not a certain standard that a person needs to meet to go inside. Usually, I am used to seeing large, formal churches that are not as inviting and welcoming as NCC.
A short black gate surrounds the church which may make it seem like it’s enclosed, but the walkway leading up to the main entrance is wide open allowing for anybody to enter. It was almost as if the gate wasn’t there. This leads people to feel comfortable enough to enter the building. It feels as if the people inside the church are welcoming you without having to vocalize it to you directly. It also makes it easy to navigate. In certain places, the entrance is harder to find making it seem as though the people inside do not want others to enter.
There is a small concrete road for parking directly to the left of the church. There is a sign on the side of the short black gate that reads “Temporary Parking for NEW COMMUNITY ONLY”. Although this seems to be an exclusive, almost aggressive sign, individuals who view it need to remember the other factors of the church that create an accepting and welcoming environment. They might have exclusive parking, but from a different perspective, anyone can park there if they want to because anyone is able to enter the church.
From the outside of NCC, I am able to see many windows, as many as there are on a regular town house making the space feel more open and inviting. There are three large ones on the ground level facing the street and from the outside looking in, I am able to see quite clearly what’s going on inside. Individuals who walk up to the church would see the windows, and feel a sense of openness, just as I did. Many churches are big and may have small windows at the very top. That type of structure is very closed off and gives off the impression that they are exclusive. Open windows make the whole experience more engaging to the public.
The physical location of the church makes it very integrated into the Shaw community. The distance between the church and the adjacent houses is no more than 20 feet. Other churches may be isolated from the rest of the community, but NCC is not.
To summarize, although in the presence of a gentrifying neighborhood, the church remains a place that everyone, even those of lower-class, can feel welcomed and included in.