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Future Building

An Anchor for Community

Replied to On knowing when to slow down (thecreativeindependent.com)

Playground Coffee Shop owner and community organizer Zenat Begum discusses what she learned from her parents and applied to her business, prioritizing downtime, and including your community in what you do.

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.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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