A few Fridays ago I had the pleasure of doing a lecture / discussion and reading of The Last Summoner in the Roncy district of Toronto. The historical fantasy takes us back to Poland in 1410 on the eve of the Battle of Grunwald between the warrior monks of the Teutonic Order and their oppressed Prussian slaves. The Lady Vivianne Schoen, Baronness von Grunwald has a vision … a vision of a different battle. And a different world. When she discovers that she can alter history, she is branded and chased as a witch. Vivianne flees through a time-space tear to an alternate present-day France, ruled by Teutonic Black Knights; where she must decide how to remake the history she authored...Every choice has its price...
Located on 333 Roncesvalles Avenue, in the heart of the Polish District (affectionately known as Roncy), Alternative Grounds is a cool funky intellectual granola kind of coffee house. LOL! What does that mean? Deep with high ceilings, the café opens into an eclectic assortment of tables and seats that range from old 60’s vinyl chairs to comfortable couches, surrounded by warm shades of brick wall, adorned with original art work and wooden shelves. A small globe of the world sits on one table. You help yourself to one of a variety of unique mugs and fill up with fresh roasted fair trade coffee. People sit in groups, chatting, or alone with their laptops. Many are obviously regulars. You can see it in their body language; like the place belongs to them.
“Alternative Grounds Coffee House and Roastery is a community-based business,” says Linda Burnside, owner. “We believe that the practice of business and the strengthening of community should go hand-in-hand.” Their café is rooted in the concept of “welcome”, evident in the arrangement
Alternative Grounds originated in 1995 as a roaster of only fairly traded coffees; back when little attention was paid to fairtrade and why it was important, says Linda. Alternative Grounds was one of the first licensees when in 1998 Fair TradeMark Canada, an independent fair trade licensing and regulatory body came into being. They are the only roaster in the area that roasts solely fair trade coffees and in 2005 they became a certified organic processor.
Alternative Grounds Café roasts and custom blends their coffees daily, providing the highest and freshest quality coffee you can get and supports the people who actually grow the beans and are stewards of the land. That’s what fair trade means. “It also helps show that there are other ways of doing business, ways based on mutual trust, cooperation and respect,” says Linda. They are a member of Cooperative Coffees, which allows them to access a wide variety of coffees and collectively contribute to the development and support of emerging cooperatives. It’s a win-win scenario.
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.