I posted signs on the Cafe windows just about a week ago. Since then, I've been really surprised at the outpouring of interest and support I've received. I'm getting multiple emails every day from folks in the neighborhood, offering help of various kinds, looking for work, or just cheering me on. I have to say that I love this. I knew from talking to people in the area in the past months that there are folks who want to have local places to go, and that I'd probably be able to find customers and even get some input into what I'm doing which might improve the Cafe in the end. But I didn't expect there to get so much enthusiasm, from so many people, and so immediately.
[A concrete measure of this: with very little encouragement from me, the Cafe has collected over 75 web-type followers, between its blog, Facebook and Twitter profiles. And these things have only been online for a couple of weeks.]
I'm amazed that someone passing by the Cafe would take the time to notice that there's something going on there, read the signs, make note of the URL, go home and find the webpage, click around to find an email address, and write and send an email. That's a significant effort, and meaningful. I figure that for each person who emails, hundreds more have noticed, and many feel the same way.
Two things that stand out from the past several days:
1) I'm learning more about my neighbors and neighborhood
Even though I've lived here for a little while (8 years or so), and have spent plenty of time on the streets in the area, walking my dog and riding my bike, I still don't know a lot about neighborhood people and their particular situations outside my immediate few blocks. I'm learning about the co-housing communities, the artist enclaves, the neighborhood associations, the block parties. Which reinforces for me the need for a place for us to gather and meet and learn. As long as we have to go to other neighborhoods (or, even worse, chain stores) to enjoy a cup of coffee and a quiet moment on a sunny afternoon, we won'teverget to know each other.
2) My neighbors are really helpful
I've had several offers of help of all kinds. A woman who had saved some of the leavings from the Pacific Bait & Tackle Shop when the building was renovated offered to lend me some to decorate the cafe. People have offered their ideas and their time. I hope this continues - especially the ideas. I love to hear what people have to say about the Cafe, the neighborhood, and what they want to experience here. Obviously, I won't make everyone happy, but I hope that you all continue to feel like you can and should contribute to the Cafe experience. It's about the neighborhood more than it is about any one of us. Even me.
Also, I mentioned the other day that someone is leaving me flowers on the door. There's a picture of one below. It's sweet, and though I'm curious about who is leaving them, I also sort of hope I don't ever find out. Mystery is nice.