Baristas with developmental disabilities making brilliant coffee

Employees at the Coffee Shed's Surrey Place Centre location, from back left to front right: Mimi Yickman Yiu, Rachel Boardman, Paul Wong, Alexander Saab, Andrew Mathew.

At a local Toronto coffee shop, a group of baristas as tight-knit as you’ll ever find, brew up delicious coffee.  But more than that, the staff here are given purpose, life-skills, and a chance to make genuine connections with their peers.

 At the Coffee Shed, all of the baristas have developmental disabilities. And, thanks to an ingenious social enterprise model, they also run the place.

The Coffee Shed is part of the Common Ground Co-operative, which operates three such coffee kiosks in Toronto, a bakery called Lemon and Allspice that supplies the Coffee Sheds with their sweet treats, and a newly added toy-sanitization company, which sanitizes toys used in children’s behavioural therapy programs. The goal is for adults with developmental disabilities to call the shots and create their own workplace community: after training and apprenticing, staff members can get voted in as a “partner.” They draw an income and run the place as a business partnership.

And for the record — the coffee’s great.

Jennifer Warren, CBC

Check out this radio piece and article for more information, and how to support the Common Grounds Co-operative at their three Coffee Shed locations, and their upcoming bowl-a-thon fundraiser.

Better Block is Bettering Cities

The Better Block initiative was started in Dallas, Texas as a rapid urban revitalization project of an underused, nearly abandoned block of  old buildings along an old streetcar line.  They project takes the “pop-up” business model to completely revitalise old city blocks with storefronts, community events, and cafés, and sustainable transportation (like bikes and streetcars)!   By combating out-of-date laws, re-purposing unused space, and connecting with engaged citizens, the Better Block has spread to multiple cities in the USA.

Watch an energized, exciting, and inspiring talk by Jason Roberts (who started The Better Block) from TEDxOU (Oklahoma University):

Thanks to urbanvelo and Upworthy for posting the original story!

World Poverty Levels Falling

For the first time ever, the poverty level in each region of the world has fallen.  According to the World Bank’s Development Research Group, the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day (at 2005 prices) was less in 2008 than it was in 2005.  This report suggests that the biggest contributing region to the decline in poverty is Africa – its poverty level fell by five percentage points between 2005 and 2008.

The bank also has partial estimates for 2010. These show global poverty that year was half its 1990 level, implying the long-term rate of poverty reduction—slightly over one percentage point a year—continued unabated in 2008-10, despite the dual crisis.

The graphic below shows the data from 1981-2008: click on it to read the whole article at the Economist.

Source: World Bank
Source: World Bank

Young Farmers Band Together to Propose New Farm Bill

Farmers don’t have it easy.  There are significant hurdles to overcome for young farmers trying to produce sustainable food on traditional farms.  There is a surging movement of young farmers trying to bring apprenticeships, local partnerships, and community supported agriculture (CSA) to the masses by proposing changes to the 2012 Farm Bill.

Across the U.S., young people are heeding the call for a more just, sustainable, and healthy food system, and are heading to the fields to build it themselves. They are working on farms and starting their own small-scale farm businesses from scratch. But, as the National Young Farmers’ Coalition recently revealed, there are big obstacles getting in the way of these green entrepreneurs — and the change eaters want to see on their grocery store shelves. Last month, the Coalition released the results of a needs survey of 1,000 young and beginning farmers from across the nation. They also made recommendations for anyone looking to help these farmers succeed. Chief among these recommendations is a set of proposed laws, which would go into effect under the 2012 Farm Bill, called the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011 [PDF].

Read more at  Don’t forget that every dollar you spend on sustainable, local food shows your support for a more ecologically and economically viable food system!

Scroll To Top