Publication:Colo Spgs Gazette; Date:Feb 11, 2006; Section:Life; Page Number:34

New Brew

Coffee shop encourages community


    Let’s start with the coffee.

    The Colorado College java joint serves only what students call fair-trade coffee, grown by farmers who make fair wages and don’t harm the environment.

    It’s also fresh, tasty and free — though drinkers are encouraged to drop donations into a weathered church offering plate.

    Welcome to Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop, a makeshift community center/concert hall/movie theater in the basement of Colorado College’s Shove Memorial Chapel. It’s open to the public 9 p.m. until “late.”

    Except for the location (it’s right under Shove’s organ), the coffee house isn’t “sacred.” During a recent weeknight, the college’s anthropology club met in one corner. A couple of students tapped away on laptop computers. A few waited for a videotape of President Bush’s State of the Union address to arrive, scheduled to be shown in a side room.

    Not a hymnal or prayer rug in sight.

    But the place does exude college-hued spirituality — from its clay-based, earthtone, eco-friendly color scheme to the inspirational quotations on the walls.

    One quote, from Mother Teresa, reads “I have found the paradox — that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

    Another, from Rumi, a Sufi poet: “Let the beauty we love/Be what we do/There are hundreds of ways/To kneel and kiss the ground.”

    “There’s a lot of spirituality on campus, but it’s directed more at the wilderness and community and friendships,” said Louise Sanseau, a 21-year-old senior who heads Sacred Grounds, which opened in November. She hopes the coffee house will foster com-
munity and deeper friendships and serve as a bridge between the college and Colorado Springs — an “outreach,” of a kind. These aspirations give Sacred Grounds a mellow spiritual aftertaste.

    The coffee house is the result of a partnership between the college and a group of students. The college wanted to provide an alcohol-free student hangout, the students wanted a campus-based connection that reflected their values.

    The college provided the basement space. Students buy the coffee. Alex Shaw, a senior and Sacred Grounds committee member, said the place is making just enough to keep the java juice flowing.

    Shove, built in 1931, has long been a center for interfaith activity on the CC campus. The chapel hosts Bible studies and Buddhist meditations, and its stained-glass windows depict Charles Darwin along with Jesus Christ.

    The coffee house is in keeping with the spirit of Shove, said Linda Madden, Shove Chapel manager. It’s also a historical echo of the medieval cathedrals that inspired Shove’s look and feel.

    Most European cathedrals served as public gathering points. Madden says that’s why most cathedrals didn’t have permanent pews: They needed the floor space for other things.

    “They were the community centers of medieval times,” Madden said.

    Sacred Grounds remains a work in progress.

    Live bands perform the first Wednesday of every block, or class term, at CC. The coffee house also has started a Friday Fast and Film. Students are encouraged to fast during the day for whatever cause they like, then break their fast with a potluck dinner and an independent movie at Sacred Grounds.

    Since it’s student run, Sacred Grounds will likely continue to morph as students graduate and others take their places.

    “It’s just a gathering room,” Madden said of Sacred Grounds. “It’s not religious at all. But, of course, everyone knows when you approach this building it’s a big, old church.”

Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop WHERE: basement of Shove Chapel at Colorado College, 1010 N. Nevada Ave. HOURS: 9 p.m. to “late” (typically 1-2 a.m.), Mondays through Fridays Coffee and tea are free, but donations are encouraged. Sacred Grounds is open to the public.

PHOTOS BY KEVIN KRECK, THE GAZETTE - Colorado College student Gretchen Schroeder used the school’s wireless Internet system at the Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop in Shove Chapel’s basement on a recent weeknight. The coffee house has started a Friday Fast and Film, where students fast all day, then gather for a potluck dinner.

Members of the Colorado College Student Anthropology Society, from left, Romana Cohen, Kellam Throgmorton, Tucker Robinson, Chelsea Kuiper and Stephanie Chisholm, gathered at the Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop in the basement of Shove Chapel.