Building a Space

Over ten years ago I was in our old living room at our table, with a couple of good friends. Sharon and Sarah have moved on to better things (the music scene and soap making), but back then we were excited about the idea we shared. We had a map of Montreal spread out on the table, and Sharon had some funny stickers. We were putting the stickers around on the map, picking out places where we thought our idea would ROCK.

What was our idea? A place where we could meet with the women we serve, and a place where we could meet amongst ourselves. A place where we could gather. A place where we could have our classes and events. A home away from home.

I started looking that year, and found a tiny bookshop that was closing down (so sad! that's another story) but the rent was too much for a struggling charity/doula group. Sharon moved away, and Sarah started a different business.

I continued creating an organization that could effectively provide doula care for hundreds of families over the years, with no private or public funding, that relies on the goodness and dedication of its volunteers. With insight and determination, I persisted in spite of many setbacks. I created a doula school where many of the volunteers learn the basis of doula care, and others move on to deeper knowledge, or take workshops with visiting teachers. With the income I made from the school and from my private birth attendant activities, I felt justified putting increased hours into the volunteer program. Justified in terms of my economic responsibilities at home: I do not come from an independently wealthy household where charity can be a useful hobby.

I have been dreaming of a space for several years now. This year, everything is coming together. One of my five sons is a chef. We are opening a cafe that will serve quality vegetarian/vegan food and excellent coffees and teas.

But how does this tie in with my original dream? The foundation can be described with one word: self-sufficiency. I want to create a space where everyone can come and feel comfortable, where people can eat and drink together, and speak different languages, and learn about different things. But spaces aren't free, and grants were not forthcoming. So we took out a personal loan, found a place with cheap rent, rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We renovated, painted, and hauled. We bought second hand equipment. My chef learned how to do electricals.

We all pitched in and built, sanded, stained and varnished the counters and tables. A friend sewed us some curtains. Another friend designed us a logo. We scrimped and saved and worked hard and .... we are almost there, opening soon, a home for whomever wants to visit.

Caffe della Pace means the Peace Cafe in English. Come and visit next time you are in the neighbourhood!


Popular Posts