I was intending to post about something entirely different today but this one has me all fired up. The idea of a ‘suspended coffee’ (or meal for that matter) is an Italian tradition of good will, ‘Espresso Sospeso’, where you can pay it forward (remember that movie?) to help out a stranger.
There are various twists on the theme – some participating cafes will include food in the scheme… you can buy a suspended sandwich for example and someone in need can come in and get a free meal.
At the surface this might just seem like another channel for charity – but I think it runs deeper than that. A sustainable community can only survive and thrive if the community cares for each other and looks after those less fortunate. It’s not for us to judge someone’s circumstances or situation – a smile is a smile and hope is hope. When we buy a suspended coffee we’re also investing in a caring culture, and with a caring culture we are open to all sorts of possibilities.
There seem to be multiple web and Facebook sites around relating to this one, so the link above goes to what seems to be the source home page. It includes a global map of participating stores, although based on the online chatter I’d be surprised if anyone’s managed to keep this up to date. From this link you can also download a flyer which you can hand over to your local – all they need is the logo to put on the wall, and a jar for the cash paid forward. Easy.
And now that this one’s front of mind, I’m thinking of all the possible broader applications… paying it forward for coffee, food, services… some of these are already happening as a result of this scheme. I could also scale this conversation into how urban design and infrastructure can foster a caring culture etc., but that’s easy stuff. The biggest challenge is taking that first step at the counter and paying it forward.
Today will be my first. I’m a bit nervous, but at least by putting it in writing I have to follow through ; >
PS: mission accomplished. even got a smile from the owner, and the cogs turning. Will update with any goss’.