One of the features of the Washington, D.C. Peace Corps House will be a Peace Corps Café.
The idea behind the Peace Corps Café, independent but related to Peace Corps House, comes from the Press Café in Batumi, Georgia, that far corner of eastern Europe. Happily; it was the project of Craig Schwinck. Craig served in the coastal city of Batumi.
Here is what Craig had to say about his Peace Corps assignment in Batumi, Georgia:
“My assignment was to establish a place where the free press in Georgia was able to come, discuss, debate, develop and learn from each other. We who started the café had a goal to create a safe haven for that expression. It became a place not only for the press, but for everyone in the state of Adjara to share diverse ideas, experiences and good food. Would it work in Washington?
“I believe so. The Press Café has two distinct concepts that would work in DC: It is a full-service restaurant providing profit for sustainability. Next, the Events provide for free expression, learning and development, a place to debate and reflect. It has an experience-driven dynamic that is transferable if developed around the local area.
“Since its opening in late 2010, the Press Café has hosted many events covering topics such as; human rights, journalistic ethics, civil and religious freedom, documentary and art-house cinemas. The Café atmosphere is kept new and inviting by changing the art and décor monthly and the Café is available for NGO’s to use for open and closed meetings. While the Press Café is a school for democracy, the emphasis is on enjoyable. The Café also has unique uses such as hosting children in a program where they learn about the development of the Georgian constitution and their rights under it.”
RPCV Craig Schwinck’s original and truly comprehensive 25-page Management Manual for the Press Café is available to help jump-start such a café. Wouldn’t a Peace Corps Café as an independent outgrowth of Peace Corps House help make Far Southeast/Southwest a neighborhood of choice and a more livable and better place to grow up?
Because that is the aim of Peace Corps House. Not to generate a local culture of dependency or weaken existing programs —but rather support self-sufficiency— and to help Ward 8 “build back better.”
And a sustaining source of funding for the Café could be a hostel nearby for travel-status Peace Corps Volunteers and staff.
Here’s Craig Schminck’s YouTube video of his Georgian Peace Corps Café…Take a look. It is impressive.