Dwight Hall Commons

In the Heart of Yale Campus – Centered in New Haven

Rooted in our values for equity-centered community engagement, Dwight Hall Commons envisions a shared space accessible to members of the Yale and New Haven communities who seek to “advance justice and service in New Haven and around the world.”

Why “Commons?”

The name draws inspiration from the vibrant New Haven Green, a designated park district that exists as the City’s “common and undivided lands,” and by the functional design of Yale’s Residential College Common Rooms which provide flexible space for informal exchanges of ideas as well as a venue for events and gatherings of college residents.

For generations, Dwight Hall has been viewed by students and area residents alike as a space that is open and accessible to all. Dwight Hall Commons embraces the view that academic expertise, student vision, and the lived experience of our community are all essential components for social change.

What is Dwight Hall Commons, exactly?

Dwight Hall Commons is not a single program or a series of topic-specific events. Rather, it reflects an intentional practice of community engagement at the individual and institutional levels. It invites students to consider the context of their service and justice work; welcomes leaders from the extended New Haven community to access campus resources; convenes those who wish to learn from experts, practitioners, and each other; and preserves and perpetuates the collective wisdom of our communities.

Welcome!

How does Dwight Hall Commons work? What does it look like?

In a typical year one would see the following activities that would all be part of Dwight Hall Commons:

  • Panels and gatherings taking place in the Dwight Hall Common Room
  • Neighborhood tours and Days of Service launching from Dwight Chapel
  • Conversations with inspiring leaders from the local community hosted in the Dwight Hall Library
  • Alumni returning to Dwight Hall and sharing their service and justice journey with students and community members

For the 2020-2021 academic year, Dwight Hall envisioned several new features that including:

  • Co-working space in the Dwight Hall Common Room throughout the day accessible to grassroots leaders, organizers, and advocates inspired by our Changemakers in Residence initiative
  • Informal gatherings and coffeehouses offering refreshments and a comfortable, welcoming environment to encourage discussion and reflection

Since COVID-19 has disrupted plans for launching Dwight Hall Commons within our Old Campus building this academic year, we are pleased to offer this virtual space for all to gather and learn from each other.

We commit ourselves to building community even though we cannot gather together in person.

Dwight Hall at Yale

Areas to Explore

We’re Elm City Speaks, a podcast that explores stories of social justice and public service leaders in our community. We’re here to learn about the people, movements, and causes that shape New Haven, one of the most prominent activist hubs in the country. In each episode, we’ll be talking to leaders and organizers of different non-profits in New Haven, about different aspects of their work, ranging from their origins, their growth, to their relationship with New Haven.Through this podcast, we hope to learn alongside Yale students and New Haven residents about the unique projects happening around us, and how we can get involved and help out. Episodes focusing on different nonprofits are released every two weeks, featuring community leaders and student voices.

Resources:

New Haven Notables 

Caroline Tanbee Smith (Yale ’14) – Medium website 

Newspapers 

Connecticut Post

New Haven Register

Hartford Courant

Independent Media 

Inner City News

New Haven Independent

La Voz Hispana

Daily Nutmeg

Urban Development 

New Haven Urbanism is a website focused on the urban morphology of New Haven. The section on New Haven: Planning includes some interesting content on current and future development of the City. 

Downtown Crossing New Haven 

The Downtown Crossing New Haven website contains an overview of all the phases related to reconnecting the Hill neighborhood to downtown by undoing the effects of Route 34 construction and slum clearance in the 1960s.  

Museums 

New Haven Museum

New Haven Free Public Library 

New Haven Story Project 

Reverend Kevin Ewing (RevKev) founded Baobab Tree Studios and produces the New Haven Story Project.  This site is a little dated, but the project is going to start back up and has potential for Dwight Hall volunteers to support the story-gathering.

Books 

City: Urbanism and Its End by Douglas Rae 

The High Cost of Being Poor in New Haven

“The High Cost of Being Poor,” is an outdated series produced by DH alumna Irene Liu for the Annie E. Casey Foundation in 2005. But the themes are still very relevant.

Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

The Community Foundation website is an excellent source of knowledge regarding our Greater New Haven region.  I recommend exploring their site, but want you to review a few specific reports and publications:

  • Greater New Haven Community Index 2019: Understanding Well-Being, Economic Opportunity, and Change in Greater New Haven Neighborhoods: A comprehensive, 120-page report with over 85 data graphics that describe the communities and neighborhoods that make up the Greater New Haven region, and uncover the opportunities and issues facing our area. 

CT DataHaven

There is a great deal of information to explore on the CT DataHaven site.  Rather than getting lost in each part of the site, I’d recommend you explore what kind of data and reports are available here for you to utilize in your own work throughout the year and understand how to refer students, community members, etc. to this site for data.

  • The Reports section includes data reports such as the New Haven Community Index. One report I would recommend for reading now is Towards Health Equity in Connecticut: The Role of Social Inequality and the Impact of COVID-19.
  • Note the dashboards (available via the “Data” section on navigation bar) which include Connecticut City Neighborhood Profiles.
  • The Communities section (also via the “Data” section on navigation bar) allows you to select smaller towns and more indicators than the Dashboards.

City of New Haven Coronavirus Hub

New Haven’s COVID-19 website is often difficult to navigate, but this landing page is wonderfully constructed. The Connecticut COVID-19 Response and Data Tracker is embedded within the page.  

CT Voices for Children

CT Voices is the premier resource for policy research and advocacy tools for family well-being, particularly those who are historically disadvantaged. They consider themselves a “think and do” tank. I think you can understand them best by reviewing their Vision and Values.
They make data sets available as well as published reports. They also often have summary reports (3-5 pages) in addition to full 60+ page reports. I’m not recommending any specific reports at this time, but you should know that they have several available via the “Research & Policy” tab on their main navigation bar. There are 4 major categories:

  • Fiscal & Economics
  • Employment & Education
  • Rights & Justice
  • Health & Housing

New Haven Public Schools Data

The main website has recently been redesigned and I’m still adapting to the shift.  There is one document that you may want to review to understand the current strategic direction of the NHPS district – though COVID has obviously been a disruptive factor.

As an educator, I’m sure you’re familiar with many great tools for school data! I like to be aware of the District Profile and Performance Reports that are publicly available here. The most recent NHPS District level report is for the 2018-2019 year and is available here.