Guest blogging tonight:
I’m Jess and I’m a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds in the first year of my PhD, which is based around languages and multilingual community arts settings and will be linked to Harehills and the surrounding area.
I first came into the café when it had just opened back in September after a few friends had mentioned it to me, knowing I was going to be based in the area. Let’s be honest here, I love coffee and I love the act of ‘going for a coffee’. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. I try and hold as many work-related meetings in coffee shops. Now I’m a PhD student I get to spend even more time in coffee shops with my laptop and a pile of papers. Before I left my job to become a student again, getting my morning coffee and walking up the hill to the University where I worked was a great part of my day, especially if the sun was shining. Coffee makes me think of those closest to me: my husband, my family, my babies (coffee shops played a big part in my maternity leaves!) and my friends (both those nearby and those (too) far away).
And so, I’d emailed Anna to find out a little bit more about the venture and she had suggested I come along and see what was happening – so I did. Back then I thought I’d probably go there from time to time during my field work for a coffee and a slice of cake. However, the thing is about ToastLoveCoffee is that it’s pretty difficult to just go along from time to time, drink a cup of coffee and leave. I found myself staying until close, helping move the chairs and with the washing up. I’ve since noticed this as a pattern: people get involved, people help and people want to be part of it. There are no onlookers.
It’s been a couple of months now and we just had another great morning: a 70th birthday party for a new customer with balloons, a birthday cake with candles and a big ‘21’ badge. At the moment I’m researching the many, many, many theories and academic interrogations of the notion of ‘community’ and it’s fascinating. Here on Hovingham Avenue ‘community’ is being reworked, rebuilt and retranslated every Wednesday from 10am until around 12noon.