What truly defines a community?
Is it the people within it? Is it the cultures it is comprised of? Is it the area that surrounds it?
Caravanserai attempts to answer this question. As a local community organization, Caravanserai
won the rights to a plot of land that they could develop into a space for the surrounding residents.
Like many of the other plots of land in the area, Caravanserai used to be a desolate piece of land
that was, frankly, quite eerie if it was anything like the plots of land that surround it. However, this
space has been transformed into a bustling hive for the community. Caravanserai consists of a
community stage, a restaurant that uses ingredients from its gardens, and individual booths and
enclosed structures that the community can use transforming a once lifeless space into one with
Upon walking up to the property, I immediately became aware of the color that encompasses the
space. From the sign that is in bright orange to the grass that is a lively green, the place dances with
life. The life is formed by structures and spaces that have been built by and for the community. The
garden is planted and maintained by members of the community. Some of the buildings have been
designed by the community, including a portable garden wagon that was built after the design won
a competition. Caravanserai is not just a place that can be used, it is a place that can be interacted
with making it entirely special.
I found a couple aspects of Caravanserai especially intriguing. One of these aspects was its reusing
of materials. Metal soda cans had been crushed to create decor that added a hypnotic feel to the
area. Shipping materials that once been some of the building blocks of the economy of the area
were turned into chairs and swings. It was the amount of these chairs, seesaws, and swings that
actually caught my attention. These seats are a place for people to rest, to work, to laugh, to learn
about one another, and to bond as a community. They encourage interaction. They encourage
conversation. I believe that the idea of the extensive amount of these seats is just epitomized by
“The Longest Table.” Caravanserai is obviously stating their main goal: unity of the community.
The Table does not seek to exclude anyone; instead, it invites individuals to come together.
I also believe that Caravanserai does an incredible job of developing individuality within this
community as well. Caravanserai allows spaces for artists to display their work. They allow theatre
performances on their theatre stage. They also allow for classes on Steel Drums to be taught in their
enclosure. These examples just display the amount of emphasis that Caravanserai puts not only on
education in general but also education of different cultures. Because Caravanserai encourages the
individual to grow and explore, they are allowing the community to flourish as a whole as a result.
Just as Caravanserai is brimming with color and life, it is also brimming with a sense of community
that is incredibly difficult to achieve. I believe that, most of all, a community should be welcoming.
Caravanserai did not scare away the University student from across the ocean. Instead, I felt a sense
of belonging to this place in which I had never previously visited. After walking around
Caravanserai, I do not feel as great of a desire to ask the question, “What truly defines a