Coffee Conversations: Westview residents call for more involvement from elected leaders

Kiyomi Rollins, the co-founder of The Ke'nekt Cooperative, stands in front of the storefront of her Westview coffee shop. (LaShawn Hudson/WABE)

The Ke’nekt Cooperative has had a longstanding footprint in southwest Atlanta’s Westview neighborhood for two decades. The cooperative has worked to empower the community through supporting Black economic opportunities and solidarity. Kiyomi Rollins, who co-founded the cooperative, says its coffeeshop serves as a Black-liberated third space for neighbors who live in the area.

On Thursday’s edition of “Closer Look” for the February installment of “Coffee Conversations,”  Rollins talked with show host Rose Scott about the importance of choosing community over capitalism and the importance of protecting Black-owned legacy businesses and residents from displacement.

Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first Black mayor, championed community empowerment and community engagement. In 1974, he established the Neighborhood Planning Units system. The NPU system, which is celebrating its 50th year, consists of 25 citizen advisory councils representing communities throughout Atlanta, including the Westview neighborhood.

Following Scott’s conversation with Rollins, she talked with Atlanta City Councilmember Jason Dozier and Rohit Malhotra, the executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation, about the current state of the NPU system and what can be done to make sure the system builds on Mayor Jackson’s vision and that it’s equitable for everyone.

Terry Ross, the parliamentarian for NPU-T, Kyle Lamont, chair of NPU-S, and Mrs. Catherine, a Westview legacy resident, then participated in a roundtable discussion. They talked about the power of community as it relates to economic development, housing, transit, community safety, etc.