One of the ideas that really resonated with me from Jim Diers’ talk back in November was the concept of “bumping places” – locations in the neighbourhood where residents could casually meet others – cafes, grocery stores, parks and the like. Some areas are undoubtedly more populated with such communal spaces than others, and Central McDougall, my adopted neighbourhood during the day, is not one of them.
So when Diers gave the example that night of a mobile meeting place, an ingenious van-turned-portable teahouse (complete with lawn chairs and fold-out overhead shade), I thought that was the perfect bridge to a more permanent solution. Even better, Diers shared that such a van was coming to the streets of Edmonton, courtesy of the Edmonton Learning Community.
A non-profit that works with people with developmental disabilities, the ELC had spearheaded the initiative with the support of the City, who helped purchase the vehicle. With some repairs and a colourful wrapped exterior, the CommuniTEA Infusion van was born (this slideshow provides more background on the project, from shots of the van pre-transformation to other shortlisted designs).
The CommuniTEA Infusion van will be working closely with the Office of Great Neighbourhoods this summer in order to set up in communities targeted for revitalization – including Central McDougall.
Mack and I met up at Churchill Square this afternoon to attend the launch.
Councillor Sohi addresses the crowd
Serving up tea
Yes, that’s an iPod dock in the tea bar!
Mack enjoying his tea
Steeps Urban Teahouse sponsored the tea for this event, but the ELC is looking for more donations to support continued operations of the van.
Bravo to the Edmonton Learning Community and the City for this wonderful initiative. I’m already looking forward to the day the van stops by my neighbourhood!