The Natural Choice, by Hailey Ross
It has only been six months since Sangha Bean opened its doors for business as Revelstoke’s newest café. Owner Krista Cadieux has a goal of fostering a relaxing environment to serve as a community gathering space, and it is taking shape. After interviewing Cadieux, it seems that the essence of her café may well be summarized in the name.
“Sangha” is Sanskrit for “a community with common goals, visions, and purpose.” Sangha Bean then is a coffee community, although one could say that there is a strong tea community here as well. In either case, anyone in Revelstoke with a vision for sustainability has a lot to be proud of behind the doors of this new café.
Perhaps one of the most obvious steps taken to reduce this business’ ecological footprint is the decision to not offer disposable cups, or any new disposable packaging for that matter. Sangha customers are encouraged rather to bring their own go-mugs or to participate in a Mason Jar Program. In this program, mug-less people on the run are asked to put a $1 deposit on a jar (and lid) to carry their steamy beverage out with them. Return that dirty jar the next time you visit, and either get your $1 back, or swap it for a pre-heated and clean vessel filled with your beverage of choice.
Although Cadieux admits that some customers have been surprised by the “no to-go waste” policy, the vast majority of customers appreciate the business choice and are satisfied with the alternative to-go system.
Not all of the jars make it back to the café, of course, but Cadieux has decided to donate the revenue generated through Mason Jar sales to the Joy for Tomorrow Initiative. Spearheaded by two women in Revelstoke, Krista Carnegie and Jackie Brosseuk, Joy for Tomorrow raises funds to help create opportunities for education, cultural exchange, sustainable industry, and empowerment in the global south. “All in all, the program works well. People like drinking from glass, they don’t mind spending $1 on a go-mug compared to the regular $30, and any money left over is donated to a worthy cause.”
Cadieux has made all sorts of decisions like these, decisions that demonstrate an ecologically responsible business ethic born out of creative and local solutions.
“We’ve done as much as is reasonable for a small business, which isn’t to say that we’re fully self sufficient, but I think we’re doing pretty well.” Cadeiux’s “reasonable” ecological choices have simultaneously added to the charm of her café. Funky furnishings that have been salvaged from thrift stores, hand-made, or recycled only add to the character of the place.
For example, by choosing counter tops made of wood harvested, milled and finished in the region, this business has helped to keep carbon emissions down, as well as support local industry and local artisans. Not surprisingly, the end product is stunning.
In addition, a wide diversity of imaginative creations may be found here in the mediums of photography, paint, ceramics, textiles, the printed word, metal work, and even buttons! On Thursday evenings come by to catch some live local music. In the cozy atmosphere at Sangha Bean the growing number of artists using the space speak of the collective creative talent in this region.
Similarly, the growing number of community groups now using Sangha Bean as their pubic meeting space speaks to the diversity of socio-cultural community initiatives in Revelstoke. Poetry clubs, language clubs, craft groups, and organizations such as the North Columbia Environmental Society (NCES) are all using Sangha Bean as an enjoyable public place to gather and share their ideas. In the spirit of sharing inspiring information, Sangha Bean is also home to the NCES library where anyone can borrow a variety of books and documentaries addressing socio-ecological subjects.
For Cadieux, her fingers are crossed that the space at Sangha Bean will help to facilitate new ideas being born and, in her words, “that they will contribute to my community.”
Clearly, a focus on the “local” is evident at Sangha Bean. In simple terms, you will find local products at Sangha Bean. But in another sense, Cadieux just might be honing in on a more interesting aspect of supporting local, which is fostering a sense of place. It is in the combination of local social and environmental elements that a greater sense of place can come to light. This is no small thing. As people’s sense of place increases, so too does their respect for and celebration of their community and their natural environment.
You can find Sangha Bean at 111 Connaught Ave. If you happen to have any 8 oz. Mason jars collecting dust in your basement, Cadieux would be happy to take them off your hands!
Hailey Ross writes The Natural Choice on behalf of the North Columbia Environmental Society. The column explores the movers and shakers of Revelstoke who are leading the way to sustainability. Proudly supported by the Columbia Basin Trust.