Students discuss how building a cafe together opened up new possibilities and realms for collaboration, and allowed us to anticipate future opportunities for cooperative work. .
At WHEELS, our work with The Fortune Society via The Ship’s First Shape Was a Raft, stemmed from a desire to create (more) opportunities to focus on a shared concerns. WHEELS students and Fortune students have been unwavering in their vision for a “something” that allows for the possibility of community building (around storytelling, around the sharing of information around jobs, around the possibility for a safe space free from policing and surveillance). Our triangulated partnership with Parsons increased WHEELS students’ capacities to springboard other projects that were/are deeply connected.
WHEELS students attended our district’s participatory budget meetings, and pitched, among other ideas, a teen-run cafe/lounge/community center, possibly even a pop-up version of any of these, out in a yet to be determined uptown space. While the cafe project failed to gain traction, an ancillary WHEELS project, for a community playground, did, and was selected in the spring of 2015; we hear the city will break ground in 2017. Subsequently, WHEELS has become a site for PB voting. Last year, hundreds of uptown community members voted at a WHEELS staffed site. Coffee and snacks, on the honor system, were available.
Kerry MacNeil, WHEELS teacher