Tim Rush spoke about creating a space for conversations through the Third Way Cafe — a coffee house that helps the community come together for social good, entertainment, discussions, and of course, coffee! Tim mentioned “conversations” as a top priority in the atmosphere at the coffee house. Dialogue becomes more productive in a safe space, especially around social issues. Third Way Cafe is a place where you can order your coffee, and “talk to someone who’s not just your barista, but also your friend”, Tim expressed.
Conversational meetings are held at the cafe, but events such as poetry nights are also popular. Events give initiatives the chance to raise awareness or raise money for their cause. This is the case for the poetry night, which supports Think Make Live. Think Make Live is a community non-profit opening leadership and civic engagement programs to teens. The initiative raises money for their operations through poetry nights at the cafe.
Tim then gave another example that is more focused on discussions. At one point, the cafe hosted an interactive event for Aunt Flow centered on what society considers “embarrassing” topics for women, like menstrual cycles. Tim recalled a scene from the event of four men trying to demonstrate how to use a tampon. With this atmosphere, the audience questioned why topics are “embarrassing” when they are natural in reality. Tim paraphrased the theme with this question: “Why do we make people feel bad about this?”
From my eyes, one of the greatest barriers to solving issues is the discomfort of talking about it. Having a place to guide the conversations, or having a safe space for the conversations to unfold, allows for change to take place sooner. As a social enterprise, Third Way Cafe helps facilitate the conversations as casual and honest dialogue.
We discussed Third Way Cafe’s future plans, including a second location in partnership with All People Art Gallery. The location operates within an assisting living complex. Tim spoke about how the space can be a great way to give retirees access to a social place. Retirees can feel heard, and remain active in their lives. Thinking further into the purpose of Third Way Cafe, Tim said:
“I think the most important thing for us is that in each place that we open, we provide a safe space for people; a place where the culture is to pursue something greater than coffee, to pursue something greater than ourselves.”— Tim Rush, Third Way Cafe
Tim discussed his passion for prison reform. He discussed his views on the journey beyond jail while he reminisced on work he personally did with incarcerated individuals. Our conversation turned into our own dialogue of second chances, skepticisms, and what getting to the “root” of an issue looks like. Tim expressed that people could be off to a good start if everyone is willing to learn and willing to face some discomfort in these conversations for the larger picture.