Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • February-March 2024 • Circulation 5000

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The Beginnings of a Social Enterprise

Customers enjoying the food and art at the Pop-Up Tea House and Art Gallery. Paula E. Kirman

This is the story of a tea house.

The seed of this idea lies with the Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative (which is searching for a new home), nurturing social capital, social inclusion, and relationships around food. It is also aligned with the priorities of the McCauley Revitalization Strategy. This idea originated with the residents of McCauley and the families who are supported by the Multicultural Health Brokers.

On March 24, 2012, the Pop-Up Tea House at Pacific Café took place thanks to the team of volunteers from the immigrant and refugee community, McCauley residents, MCHB workers, and the McCauley connects Coffee House. The event was also supported by a “communiTEA” of cooks, poets, musicians, artists, writers, dreamers, healers, gardeners, travelers, and translators who live, work, and do business in McCauley. They connected with over 100 patrons, including visitors from outside Edmonton.

This public launch gave us an opportunity to learn and understand business in the McCauley community. It was a beautiful experience and a welcoming community gathering place that provided opportunities for intercultural connections and learning through food, urban agriculture, and the arts. This all took place while serving tea as artists presented their paintings and customers were entertained with live music.

The Pop-Up Multicultural Tea House and Art Gallery was a tool that allowed its team to share details about engaging in this kind of business. This was the first of a series of mobile tea houses that will take place around the city, to introduce the concept to different stakeholders and potential investors. These may include: City Council, Rotary Clubs, banks, leaders, and residents of McCauley. This is a means for us to “friend-raise,” to engage the new young immigrant volunteers with the possibility of a restaurant career and plant the seeds of our ideas with potential future partners and investors.

The “cultural facilitators” were youth who work with the MCHB and are passionate about food and intercultural sharing. They worked serving food and generating conversation with the guests.

In the short-term, the tea house positively impacts the volunteers and cultural facilitators engaged in organizing, as well as those involved with the catering, local businesses, and community organizations participating as vendors. In the long-term, this program will have a positive impact on residents of the McCauley neighbourhood and families that the MCHB work with, who will have the tea house as a gathering place. The long-term plan is also to be a social enterprise, generating profit for reinvestment for programming within the tea house and gallery.

Nhan is originally from Vietnam and owns Pacific Cafe and Cooking School at 10874 97 Street.

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