This coffee shop is a good example of what I envision for a community space: focused on giving back and solidarity but also self supporting. They’ve anchored their business with a coffee shop and mini store to cover the costs – you have to find some monetizable core to build the rest around, or you have to go the nonprofit route and beg for donations or endowments.
What I would love to have as part of a community center:
- Free to use: no purchase necessary (could have suggested donation)
- Comfortable tables to hang out with a group
- Powered workspaces where you can get things done on your own or with a friend
- Shared tables
- Local art on the walls
- Local zine library
- Added 6/21: Risograph or letterpress small run printing service / rentable for use
- Locally grown vegetarian food (fusion?) for sale, and a deal with nearby restaurants for delivery
- Open late to hang out after shows let out and restaurants close – with taps serving local beer
- A shop selling locally made goods
- Tool and craft library (potentially could charge a nominal membership)
- Rentable meeting room / reservable space
- Furnished with secondhand items
- Built with salvaged materials
- Community fridge or food pantry
- Bike racks out front and food discounts for biking or walking
- Water bottle filling station
- Dog friendly
What I envision as the paid anchor is a member-only co-working space in the back or upstairs.
I need to stop daydreaming about it – I’m never going to risk my retirement to build a space like this. (Plus, I have no retail experience.)
But stuff like this is why we can’t rely on the private market to provide community spaces – their motive is profit, with community a secondary benefit, so the add-ons are just that: extras, not the core of what they want to achieve. And why rent is a huge part of the problem: my community lacks a gathering space like this for adults (we have a senior center and teen center) and could greatly benefit from one, but rent is really expensive.