On Valentine’s Day February 14, 1995, representatives of 8 independent English-speaking organisations and some other dedicated individuals, met at George and Margaret Ségal’s home. Around their dining room table, the idea of creating a centre for the English-speaking community in Basel was born. It was first called the English Speaking Community Center Basel (ESCCB), and opened its doors officially in October 1996 at Aeschengraben, with 16 to 30 members. The ESCCB was a modest beginning compared to what Centrepoint has become today.
At that time, the ESCCB, was intended to be an umbrella organization for all of the varied groups, clubs and activities that take place year round in Basel. It was a place to house these activities to establish synergy to bring all this energy to focus together. The goal was to provide a bridge between the Swiss and English-speaking communities in Basel.
Within a few years, the ESCCB had grown to a size where it required larger premises. Thanks to the hard work of a few of the founding members, and to the generosity of Peter Hoffmann, Director of Lohnhof Stiftung, the ESCCB was able to move into the historic Lohnhof in Spring 1999. Before relocating to our new home, though, we needed to re-evaluate our role in the community as well as our goals and strategy.
Mary Rettig (Swiss-American), Richard Simpson (British), Mariette Rudolphie (Dutch) and Jan Hawley (Swiss-Canadian) formed a strategy team which, after meeting with dozens of members to gather input and ideas, hammered out a concise vision, a mission statement and a set of clear strategic aims with the focus on "building and strengthening a sense of community among expatriates of all nationalities and Swiss living in the Basel region”. As the organisation’s name was too long and confusing to the public, the team compiled a list of potential new names for the Board to vote on. The Board chose "Centrepoint”, proposed by Jan Hawley. After that, the strategy team had the responsibility of developing a new logo. Centrepoint’s simple black and white, but eye-catching logo was the brainchild of a talented designer and former Centrepoint member, Cathy Cryoff.
The name ‘Centrepoint’ with the tag line, "for the international community in Basel,” came into use on June 1, 1999, when Centrepoint opened its doors to 300 members at its new Lohnhof location. The move to Lohnhof is a testimonial to the hard work and dedication of Centrepoint’s founders. We stand on their shoulders in our continued efforts to build bridges between the international community and the Basel community at large.
Once Centrepoint had settled into the Lohnhof, more effort went toward building and maintaining relations with other local English-speaking clubs, as well as liaising with corporate human resources departments and various departments of Basel’s government. This is still an important focus of the Governing Board today.
Over the past 16 years, members have benefitted from the hard work of the ESCCB founders and members. We have them to thank for building the bridges and foundations for Centrepoint to be an integral part of the Basel community.
CP Founding Members and 1st Executive Committee
Cynthia Baer, Claude Cicchetti, Valeria Egger, Diane Erickson, Janet Galli, Pam Haus, Jan Hawley, Dorothy Kosinski, Maureen Reinertsen, Wendy Roth-Olum, Jennifer Schweizer (Hill), Georges Ségal, Margaret Ségal, Helen Zurflüh
With 700+ standard and student members to date, Centrepoint continues its expansion and development by offering more and varied programmes, social and networking events, a new and expanding library, and ever-increasing opportunities for members to socialise and integrate.
Centrepoint Perspective, the first book to document the History, and the work done by volunteers in the various departments of CP, was released on March 26, 2011 at the AGM. You may download and read the pdf version of the book here