Everyday Café is a social enterprise owned and operated by Bible Center Church. We invest our earnings into Homewood-based organizations and causes, with a particular focus on entrepreneurship, youth development and education.
collaboration with Meeti Purani and Patrick Campbell
third space — a public, social space that exists separate from home or work
research question: How do third spaces help people connecting with their local communities?
design research, interaction and service design
Homewood is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, and it’s going through a process of “intra-fication.” Community institutions, like the Bible Center Church, are mobilizing to bring current Homewood residents the new resources and opportunities that have become associated with gentrification.
Everyday Café is their flagship endeavor. It offers job training programs for local high school students, free WiFi, and a community third space. As one member of the Bible Center put it, opening a community space like Everyday Café “just makes you feel more like everyone else.”
However, a large part of the community isn’t coming to Everyday Café. We wanted to work with them to try and figure out why they’re only reaching certain people, and how they can help more Homewood residents.
It was a priority of ours to keep the community’s voice in the conversation. Throughout our research process we talked to several people involved in Everyday Café, particularly the café’s manager, Joy. We also attended some panels and events held at the Café to get a better overall picture of everything the Café does. Some people were more than happy to sit down and chat with us about their experiences. However, we wanted to reach as many people as possible.
We designed two main research tools to get a feel for both Homewood’s third space landscape, and the current patrons of Everyday Café. The first was a map that showed a half mile radius around Everyday Café. We asked patrons to mark anywhere in that radius that they lived, worked, and “played” (went for fun). This was to help us get a sense how geography, if at all, factored into people’s decision to visit the Café.
The second research tool was a chart that helped us see people’s third space “diet.” We asked people to write down the places they visit in a typical week, how they feel in those locations, and are they alone or with others. Then, we asked them to rank those places from most to least frequented. We hoped to see correlations between locations, and also get a better sense of the qualitative landscape of Homewood.
During lunch hour a few days out of the week, we sat in Everyday Café and asked patrons to fill out these research tools.
Research Findings and Recommendations—
Our key research takeaway were:
Third spaces tend to be associated with positive feelings and seem to host healthier, happier people.
There is not a single cohesive network of third spaces, rather multiple networks that overlap.
Many local residents are unaware of third spaces and the kinds of services they provide.
Essentially, many third spaces existed in separate networks. Those who went to Everyday Café may not be regular patrons at Construction Junction, for example.
With this in mind, we wrote Joy a proposal of three different ideas for how to unify these third space networks: a co-design workshop, a community coalition, and a business collaboration (such as a community coupon book or joint event). For the co-design workshop and community coalition options, we provided Joy with educational resources to help get those endeavors off the ground. For the business collaborations, we mocked up examples of what that could look like.
At this point, we handed off what we found back to the community.