Today I got a bottom-to-top, including rooftop, tour of this 1910 flatiron building in Bethlehem PA that would have been pretty cool just from an architectural perspective. (Hey! It’s a triangle, not a rectangle!) But the coolest thing about today’s New Place was meeting the people who work here.
Today’s tour was pretty much of a surprise. I thought I was just going to see my sister’s office. From the Flatiron Building, she runs a nonprofit call Humanitarian Social Innovations, which serves as an umbrella for over 20 organizations dedicated to social change. (I know! Impressive!) But she had sent emails around and got me entrée to visit some other residents of this building: WDIY 88.1, Lehigh Valley’s public radio station (with their 10,000+ CD library); FunnelKake–a cutting-edge digital marketing company with a wall painted the color of the Caribbean Sea; Lehigh University’s Community Relations and Public Affairs Department, with their urban-chic open office; and the Stone House Group, which sits at the top of the tip of this building—or the tip of the top. Anyway, tip-top, they are, because they manage this gorgeous building and have done a great job integrating its historical brick and marble features with modern technology (the building’s addendum even has solar panels!)
What today’s New Place brought home for me is that places aren’t just architectural features and geographical coordinates. When I go into places that are new for me, they are a keen part of other people’s lives: their schools, their alleys, their libraries, their post offices, their places of work. So I get to know something about these people too, or even just become aware that they are, when I enter their space.
This was always one of the most interesting things about traveling for me–getting to know the cultures and meeting the people. I wasn’t expecting that it would happen on the micro-level of traveling that I am doing here at One New Place. But it absolutely is—another way this project is making my world bigger!