August 13, 2017
Cornerstone Café in Victoria's Fernwood Neighbourhood
Not so long ago we had reason to visit Victoria and we stayed in a neighbourhood called Fernwood. It's a wonderful part of the city that is outside the normal tourist hustle and bustle.
In advance, Sherry discovered the Cornerstone Café, across from the Belfry Theatre, and we all went one bright, sunny morning.
This is not a regular coffee shop, though one might not know without asking. Sure it's about coffee and reading and socializing... it looks like a coffee shop. It's story is something else.
Cornerstone Café is a social enterprise, which means its profits go to the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group, a non-profit society committed to creating a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable neighbourhood.
Prior to 2005 the building itself was a neglected eyesore, boarded up and unused. Local activists decided to revitalize the building and the area, and to provide space for a café, artists and locally owned and operated businesses. Within a year the Fernwood NRG had purchased the Cornerstone Building and in another year the heritage building was renovated, including affordable family apartments on the second floor. The renovation addressed environmental sustainability by installing, among other things, a geothermal heat pump and that energy, from the ground below the building, provides 70 percent of the building's heat and hot water.
The Cornerstone Café is working towards creating zero waste in all that it does, and maintains proper recycling and composting. Customers are encouraged to bring their own mugs, or those dining-in are given proper mugs and cutlery. If someone wants a to-go cup, it will be one that is readily compostable.
And finally: the coffee is pretty good too, though the cappuccino was too milky for our traditional tastes.
This wonderful café is a place where you can relax, meet friends and neighbours, take in music and special events, and discover community.
We should do this kind of thing more often and in more places.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.