Times They Are A-changin
01 Apr 2017 | Adam
It’s my deepest regret to let you all know that after nearly 5 years our cafe here in Aspley is closing down. We had intended to stay here for at least the next 6 years especially after investing in building our kitchen at the end of last year. The landlords have been pretty nasty about it. However I believe it’s right for us to move forwards with an improved mission and strategic plan.
I can’t describe how much it hurt when I found out a couple of weeks ago. So much of my life has been invested into this site. I have to admit I considered that this might be the end of the road for us. But then I was reminded of something. I sat out the back in the garden area and reflected over our journey together. I can remember placing every stone in the wall and the person who helped build it with me and the conversations that brought a bit of healing. One stone I remember talking with a man who’d just got out of prison after 10 years and couldn’t resolve forgiving himself for what he did. By the end of that day building that bit of the wall with me Jason finally received forgiveness for the first time in his life and was ready to move forwards with his life. Every paver, every garden, every painted picture has a story here. What I was reminded of is that even on those long days when we were building this place we never thought we were building a great cafe. We were repairing relationships. We were building men. On a spiritual level I think Cup From Above is more than a cafe. I believe it’s an orphanage. It’s been a home for the lost and who just needed somewhere safe to escape to and be comforted, restored, encouraged, redirected, educated and loved. This chapter, at this geographical, site has come to an end but WE WILL CONTINUE WITH THIS MISSION. We’re losing this building but we’re taking the wisdom we’ve learnt together with us.
From the first day of opening Cup From Above I literally asked myself what would a cafe in heaven look like? That’s been my overarching motivation and philosophy for everything we’ve ever done here. This is how it played out in my mind… In heaven there’s no such thing as a disability. I reckon everyone is able enough to achieve their purpose in life. So we trained people with disabilities as best as they were capable how to make heavenly coffee and get them authentic jobs. In heaven people don’t go hungry. So we fed everyone who came in who was hungry. In heaven everyone is loved and valued. So we gave everyone who couldn’t afford a coffee one for free and spent time with them. In heaven there’s no crime. So we taught criminals their true worth, restored them and empowered them with valuable employable skills. In heaven fathers don’t die of heart disease when their kids are young. So we started a garden to grow nutritious food and cook it up tasty and give it to the sick, poor & homeless. In heaven no one is lonely from mental health problems. So we built interconnected life affirming relationships around those who were struggling with poor mental health.
Even though this place has been largely inspired and driven by my christian faith I never wanted this to be just another ‘church cafe’. I’ve purposed to keep it a truly diverse community cafe for everyone in this geographical community and we’ve deliberately embraced satanists, atheists, agnostics and buddhists as equal members here. We’ve connected with both sides and every level of politics to collectively work together to help those in most need in our community. All this has been complex at times. But diversity is beautiful, it’s real and it’s right. We’re better together.
I’m proud to say we’ve nearly completed our new 10 year strategic plan and God it’s beautiful. It makes so much more sense. It’ll be formally released in the next couple of weeks. To give you a snapshot for now we’re calling it Operation: Robin Hood. The main issue here at Aspley has been having dangerous people receiving therapeutic support while trying to run a profitable cafe. It just doesn’t work. In the 60 months of being here only 1 of them was commercially profitable. 59 months we LOST money. It’s okay because we used the cafe to help people and the cost to benefit ratio was definitely worthwhile when you look at the incredible outcomes we were able to achieve by doing this. However this is not sustainable, safe, nor is it the optimal way to execute our mission. I’ve built a great new team to guide us and our plan is to find a new cafe site in an affluent area of Brisbane. Run it as a great profitable hospitality business, have only one “hospitality intern” at a time, and use the profits to help those who are really struggling. “Take from the rich and give to the poor”. We did a thorough analysis of what we’ve done well and what we’ve done really bad over the last 5 years. We’re good at chronic support. We good at taking someone who is using hard drugs, engaging in criminal activity, in and out of prison, homelessness and broken relationships, who is ready for change and lead and guide them through to sobriety, empower them with employable skills and a real career, encouraging them and championing them, teaching them interpersonal skills so they can restore broken relationships and build new healthy ones and not just get housing but a home to build a life in. We’ve done this well and we’ll keep doing this for Brisbane’s forgotten and downtrodden. We’ll keep dropping off hampers and healthy nutritious food to pregnant women facing homelessness and single dads who are struggling to make ends meet. We’re good at this. We’re gonna continue training people with barriers to employment how to make great coffee and help them secure jobs. We’re good at this. We love coffee and people. We’ve got a temporary solution to continue doing this uninterrupted while we don’t have a cafe.
Our charitable support will actually increase after the closure of our Aspley cafe. This is a crazy paradox but it’s true. But right now it actually costs money to have the cafe and it takes up sooooo much time. It just means until we reopen a new profitable cafe there won’t be an easy way to engage with us like there has been at the cafe. We’ll keep posting up about the great stories of supporting people online (that we’re only able to do because you support us). The charity will continue to run from our office in Aspley 6 days a week. The new cafe will be geographically separate from most of our charitable activities. Therefore we won’t have any of the danger concerns of being a pseudo drop in centre. People won’t be able to access help via the cafe directly.
We’re looking for a new cafe site. We’re going to take our time to carefully assess the next pilot site. If you know of a potentially great site please email it through to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have formed a committee of highly successful people in the hospitality industry to thoroughly assess the new site(s) to ensure financial viability and ongoing success.
We will need to fundraise to open the new cafe. Fortunately we get to keep all the equipment we purchased from our fundraising efforts only 6 months ago. It’s unlikely to fit in the new site so we’ll have to sell some equipment and buy some new items. There’s a lot of other setup costs. I estimate we will need at least $20,000 for the new site. If you would like to donate towards this it would be greatly appreciated. You can via the link here. If it’s specifically for this new venture please use the description “NEWCFACAFE” so we know to allocate it towards this specifically.
We’ll be holding a little “farewell funeral & wake” at the cafe. Date TBA but we’ll announce it soon. The current plan is to close the doors on Saturday, 29th April. So many lives have been touched here and we wanted some way to commemorate the journey. We have this beautiful orange journal (donated by our lovely new neighbours Bookbinders). Please come in and leave a message sharing your greatest memory here at Cup From Above Aspley. If we’ve contributed to your life and journey we’d love it if you shared that in the book.
I am so honoured to have journeyed with you all here. I have so many great new friendships that have been forged and old ones bolstered on this 5 year adventure. You have all taught me so much and I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated time, money, blood, sweat or tears to this cause. I love this community of Aspley. Rich even with all it’s blemishes and colour. I didn’t actually think any of this would actually be possible, 6 years ago it was merely a dubious dream, but you’ve all proven to me over these years that the impossible is possible. I plan to take this ‘hope against hope’ you’ve demonstrated me on to the next phase of our journey.
Thank you everyone, love you all.
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