Coffee, Conversation, and Meaningful Collaboration
When you ask Vicky Roeder-Martin of the Dragonfly Collective how she plans to bring an entire community together, she tells you that “it all starts with a cup of coffee. I believe that community really is fundamental for people to feel accepted, valued, and feel seen.” Roeder-Martin and her family moved to Sprucedale, Ontario, seven years ago when it was a small town. Other than a small convenience store, there is nowhere for the community to gather. Previously, Roeder-Martin had been hosting popular community potlucks, so she knew the town wanted a place to connect. The idea for the Dragonfly Collective’s Community Café was formed.
A café and bakery will serve as a quiet place for coffee and conversation as well as a community hub for local artisans, performers, teachers and more to provide goods and services for entertainment and sale. The revenue from the café will be funnelled back into the hub, allowing the team to provide reasonable wages and meal tickets to their staff and spur positive social impact. Roeder-Martin envisions an integrated community of people lending skills, knowledge, and services to support overall growth; for example, local seniors may host cooking classes or other sessions for youth, who could offer their own skills in return. The café will be a place for volunteers to connect to those who need a helping hand, for local students to get homework help or for people to simply hang out. The Community Foundation Grey Bruce recently awarded the Dragonfly Collective $25,000 for the start-up.
The proposed café will also support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. One of these goals is “Zero Hunger.” The café wants to support individuals in precarious food situations by hosting cooking workshops and providing meal tickets in return for volunteer work. Another UN goal is “Good Health and Well-Being.” The café will provide mental and social well-being supports and economic opportunities, allowing individuals to earn a living by working directly for the café or selling their goods and services on the property. This also supports the UN goal of “Decent Work and Economic Growth.” This innovative idea will encourage the revival of downtown Sprucedale supporting the final UN goal of “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.”
However, you can’t have a café without a building, and you can’t have a building without the space to put it on. The Dragonfly Collective is struggling to secure land for their social enterprise. “We’ll buy some big tents if we have to!” says Roeder-Martin. The team plans on hosting some events soon. They are currently organizing a “take-out community picnic” to bring people together safely during the pandemic.
When you live in small towns, your community becomes an extension of your family. Families are always strongest when we can support one another, and nothing feels more like family than sharing a drink with someone close to you. It all starts with a cup of coffee.