We're already stoked for our 14th annual Sunrise Summer Kickoff, coming up Saturday, July 11. This amazing summer event features all day street hockey for kids K–Gr.9, live performances, face-painting, games, pony rides, and more. To register for street hockey click here. See you there!
A Loving Spoonful is a local Not-for-profit Organization, which has been going twenty-five years strong providing free, nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS in Greater Vancouver.
The group recently moved into the East Village area about a year ago, doubling their space from their previous location. This means there is even more room to service people in the community.
Executive Director Lisa Martella has been with A Loving Spoonful coming up eight years, and tells us it’s uplifting to see so many who are helped by the service the group provides. “I’ve seen the turn around on someone’s life, getting his or her confidence back,” Lisa says. “I’ve seen single moms with kids being able to go back to work again, and they still keep in touch. It’s extremely rewarding to know that the job we are doing everyday is really making a difference and impacting people’s lives in a really positive way.”
As a registered Not-for-profit, A Loving Spoonful receives 77% of its funding from private donations and grants, rather than government funding. Fundraising and special events, private and corporate donations all help keep things going - and the group is transparent about cost. The average cost of a meal is $3.55 per person, so you know where your dollars are going when you make a donation. “The public really believes in our mission and what we are doing in the community, and is willing to put their dollars behind it,” Lisa tells us.
There is a hard-working staff of seven at A Loving Spoonful; 2 part-time, 5 full-time, 1 contract – plus an army of 250+ volunteers who help with all sorts of administrative work, packing food, delivering food and special events. Every Tuesday is delivery day, where volunteer drivers will come pick up food and deliver it to people who need it most.
“We have about 5 signature events or campaigns a year but also there are lots of third party events where people in the community will hold little events to raise money,” Lisa tells us. The next fundraiser is Project Empty Bowl, taking place Thursday, June 11th at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. Since its inception in the early 1990's Project Empty Bowl has fed thousands of individuals with AIDS locally and tens of thousands globally.
Platform 7 Cafe opened up a year and a half ago at 2331 East Hastings Street, and talented barista Carole has worked there since the very beginning. “I live in the area, so its super great for work,” she tells us. “The area is obviously very familiar to me. I was happy when I heard that this job opened up.”
Carole, originally from Calgary, has worked in many coffee shops over the span of her Barista career, and she says something just keeps her coming back. “I really enjoy the process of making the coffee,” she says. “But I also enjoy the interaction with people and seeing regulars.”
The busy cafe owned by Livio Susin and Marke McNichol has become a staple in our ‘hood for their delicious hand-crafted coffee beverages and train-station themed ambiance. Carole is one of seven employees who keep the wheels moving, and she tells us it’s her love of learning that keeps things interesting and fresh. “I love that I am always learning,” she says enthusiastically. “There is honestly always something to learn. I get to learn about the new processes to make coffee, taste the new coffees that come in. It’s an ever changing process.”
Carole’s favourite drink to make for customers:
“I really like making lattes, because I get to practice my latte art. I also like the brew bar, because I get to talk to the customer and explain the process while I those drinks.”
Carole’s favourite drink to make for herself:
“This varies on the day and of course time of day. But in the morning, I enjoy a small latte. I just really enjoy trying new drinks too, so it’s hard to name a favourite.”
Carole’s favourite food in the cafe:
“I am on a huge peanut butter cookie kick, I pretty much eat one every time I come to work! I also really like the breakfast sandwiches.”
With cold brew back on tap, and an irresistible dog-friendly “secret garden” setting to chill in the sunshine, Platform 7 is a must this summer for any coffee lover.
If you’ve ever grabbed a cup of much-needed coffee or a delicious baked goodie from The East Cafe, then it’s quite likely you’ve met Alice, one of the smiling faces behind the counter. She’s been with the cafe since September, but has been working as a barista for a decade now - so we who better to chat with and ask what it is she enjoys most about her job, and the community she works in.
When we ask her why she’s a barista, her answer is short and simple. “It’s my passion,” Alice tells us. “I’ve worked at a lot of different cafes, and I’m really on the customer service end of things,” she says. “I love coffee of course, but it’s kind of secondary for me which is sort of embarrassing to say - but I care more about the people.”
The East Cafe opened in May of 2013, and is now owned and run by Tomo and Eric, who will be celebrating their one year with the cafe this summer.
“This is the best job I’ve had, and it’s because the owners are so lovely and really want us to be ourselves, be creative, and be a bit crazy if we want,” Alice says. “It’s so awesome, and so rare. We’re so blessed, all of us who work here.”
When we ask Alice what it is about the East Village she likes most, it comes back to the people who make up the area. “There’s a sense of community here that’s really hard to find in the city. I’m really lucky at my job to get to talk to lots of people from all walks of life, and form a small relationship with them.”
“It’s the people, the variety, the general vibe,” she continues. “I find whenever I go downtown, I almost feel tense. Once I cross back over, things feel like home. People are a little more expressive, I guess. I can breathe.”
Evolving from a pilot project in 2011, the Vancouver Park Board’s Artist Studio Residencies program has grown from just a handful to now over 50 artists (solo or part of collectives), all working out of a variety of field houses, park facilities, marinas, and community centres around our city. The program provides artists with free work-only studios in exchange for community arts-based engagement.
Currently residing in the Pandora Park field house (2325 Franklin Street) is Dance Troupe Practice, a movement based performance collective who combine dance, voice, video, and installation in their art work. Committed to “a deep exploration of the moving body and creative collaboration,” the collective look forward to connecting community needs and interests to their own practices, and to explore the connections between dance and everyday life in unexpected places.
The collective is sharing the fieldhouse with a Vancouver Biennale artist-in-residence during 2015 – 2016.
One of our area's longest standing and most beloved cafes, The Laughing Bean Coffee Company, has been a fixture in the ‘hood for over a decade. Opened in 2003 by Wayne and Rebecca, the family run business is considered a caffeinated hub of activity for locals and commuters alike.
“I love the diversity of the area,” says Wayne, co-owner of The Laughing Bean. “We get moms, dads, dog walkers, downtown business people, kids after school just a wide range of different people who come in to get their coffee.” Wayne says that because theirs is a shop out of the way from most, the vibe is like a small town in the big city. “This neighbourhood has a community feel to it,” he says with a smile.
That community feel definitely carries over to the staff at The Laughing Bean. There are currently 11 employees working at the cafe, with their longest employed for 9 years now. “We like to be mentors for our staff and train them in coffee and future positions they may have,” Wayne says. “We try to make their experience as worthwhile as possible.”
Besides all the wonderful people he meets during his days at the cafe, Wayne says it’s his love of coffee that fuels his passion. “I love that I get to taste different coffees from around the globe,” he tells us. “I love that I also get to travel around to try the coffees we sell, and to see how it is made, packaged, and the people who harvest and produce it.” Of all his coffee expeditions, Wayne says Brazil has made the biggest impression on him. “I really liked how well the farm was run. Everything from the planting, manufacturing; how the staff are managed and treated well.”
With their twelfth anniversary just around the corner, we ask Wayne if he has a stand-out memory from his time at The Laughing Bean. “We had a fundraiser for the tsunami in Thailand in 2004,” he tells us. “We had the idea to just have a day where everything we sold for the day, all of our sales just went to victims of the tsunami. It was a really small fundraiser, we didn’t do any advertising for it. We just put up a small hand written poster in our shop.”
“One customer came in and happen to work for a TV station, and decided to do a segment on our fundraiser and it then turned into being on the new station for almost the whole show,” Wayne continues. “The mayor came in, and we raised almost $19,000. People also came in and dropped off prizes that could be auctioned off, again with all proceeds going to the tsunami. The quarterback for the BC lions at the time donated a signed helmet. It was so exciting to just see how the whole event just came from a small handwritten poster. It’s great to look back on and see how the community just came out and really stepped up to help.”
The cafe will be holding another fundraiser on May 15th, this time in support of aid efforts in Nepal. The Laughing Bean will match any donations collected on that day and will donate it to the Red Cross, with the Canadian Government matching the donation.
Craft beer lovers, rejoice. There’s a new kid on the block, and they’re officially open for business. Doan’s Craft Brewing Company (located at 1830 Powell Street) is the brainchild of brothers Mike and Evan Doan, along with their business partner Kevin Sharpe. This brand new local microbrewery will sell three types of craft beer to start, all available on tap in their beautiful new tasting room. Bottles and growler fills will also be available, with more seasonal specials to come.
For the owners of Doan’s Craft Brewing Company, their passion for their industry is foremost, and they tell us it “overwhelms the senses,” and is the “biggest treat” to get to do what they love every day.
Opening a microbrewery in the East Village isn’t exactly unheard of these days, but for the owners of Doan’s it was the overwhelming sense of community and diversity that really sealed the deal for them. “(The area is) full of other small businesses, everyone supports each other,” Mike tells us. “Acquiring space here has been a dream of ours. If you need something for your business, (like) printing, hardware materials you can find it all locally.” That sense of community carries over to the brewing community, and Evan tells us everyone in the area has been extremely helpful. “If something goes wrong, multiple businesses are there to support you,” Evan says.
Vancouver illustrator Ola Volo created an eye-catching mural for the space, which is sure to flood Instagram any day now. Pop in to the new shop and check it out for yourself, and stay social on Twitter and Instagram.