So here's a brief run down. I'm a Portland barista and have always dreamt of opening a cafe (like many of us), and the first thing that comes to mind is that I want to do this in Portland. I do. I love it here, it is my favorite, but we're extremely packed full of cafes already. This got me thinking of neighborhood where there isn't a cafe for miles.
I've been reading up lately on strategies to battle and defend against gentrification (which runs rampant 'round these parts) and suddenly an idea came, inspired by Max Remau's Take Back The Land! Opening cafes in neighborhoods potentially drowned in gentrification. Touchy. So, some simple (on paper) ideas I have so far are these:
~Co-op run by members of the neighborhood.
~All employees from said neighborhood.
~Constant stream of "concious" artists for events and decor.
~Host community discussions, events and meetings of other community planners.
~Encourage support for positively active civic leaders, NGOs, non-profits, grassroots orgs, through media we provide, and events held (what I'm thinking here is a sort of community library for what's going on locally).
~Possibly host classes for combatting homelessness, gentrification, education on people's rights, legal lingo, renter buyouts, etc.
How this would help in anchoring communities is in that gentrification usually sparks in neighborhoods that are abandoned by the city because of a low flow of capital in the area. Often times areas that the city buys (usually out from under the feet of people with no where to go, and usually minorities) are just left to rot (Portlanders, I know you know what I'm talkin' about, inner Williams, for example). But if a cafe was set up to bring the city a little revenue, a little attention to the area, and people in the neighborhoods were given a little education, it could help in slowing gentrification, building community awareness, and hopefully improve the quality of neighborhoods without pushing the people out.
I know this is ballsy and this is a bit dangerous and unconventional, financially and communally, but truly I think with enough effort this is doable. Let me know what you think (if you've read this far, thank you).
Sounds like an interesting idea. I think that many good coffeehouses are reflections of their neighborhoods, and grow to be hubs and meeting places for the community. Taking this concept seriously from the get-go sounds like a good plan.
I believe that there's a shop opening here in Charlotte with a very similar philosophy. I'm not working directly with them, so am not sure, but what I've heard sounds similar. I'll ask around a bit, and if so I'll share some of their experiences.
This is completely doable.
Check out The Root Cafe in Lakewood, OH.
Sounds like a great idea for a space, it seems so rarely that coffeehouses these days have a good community forum going on. The trick is to be able to provide all of those community building activities while still staying afloat, requires a lot of dedication, but I've seen it done.