Creating Welcoming Community Spaces

by FCS on

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by Jeff Delp

If you’ve been on social media during the past week, you’ve no doubt come across the viral video from a Starbucks in Philadelphia. In the footage, two African American men are asked to leave the coffee shop because they had not purchased anything. What followed was a debate about implicit bias in our society in general, as well as in spaces like coffee shops, especially those located in neighborhoods that have, or are, experiencing rapid change due to gentrification.

In the days that followed the incident in Philadelphia, Community Grounds received numerous alerts and tags from our faithful followers and customers. They shared how Community Grounds was one of their “safe spaces,” a place where they knew that they could come and not be judged. Several other fantastic coffee shops around town were also mentioned: Hodgepodge, Urban Grind, and others. We were honored to be included in a list of places that demonstrate welcome and make people feel like they belong.

The most meaningful comment we received was from a mother of a former student at our local Carver High School. She thanked us for always welcoming her son into our shop. She was grateful he had a place to come before and after school where she didn’t have to worry about him. And he complemented our chicken biscuits all the time! As a parent myself, I was grateful for this response because I hope my own children will have these same kinds of spaces near their schools one day.  

If you’ve ever spent any time in Community Grounds, you’ve likely been amazed by what appears to be the random assortment of people who walk through our doors. It’s not random, though. We’ve worked hard to diversify our inventory and train our staff to serve the variety of local needs. The uniqueness of our customers is by design. And I am truly grateful for a staff team who works hard everyday to make sure that no matter who walks through our doors - high school students, moms, teachers, principals, local factory workers, major donors, corporate executives, homeless men, friends, or whoever - that no matter who it is - they feel welcome.  

We hope that Community Grounds will always be a place of belonging for South Atlanta. More importantly, we hope other diverse and welcoming spaces will begin to exist in other communities as well. This community can be one of the greatest gifts we can offer our follow neighbors. Thank you for being a part of helping us create this unique coffee shop in South Atlanta. We couldn’t have done it with you!

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