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Coffee Conversations with Rose Scott: Café ULU, A Co-Op Coffee Shop

Chinyere Kanyama Norman, a former board member of Us Lifting Us Cooperative, stands outside of Café ULU in Southwest Atlanta.
Chinyere Kanyama Norman, a former board member of Us Lifting Us Cooperative, stands outside of Café ULU in Southwest Atlanta.
Credit Grace Walker / WABE

Closer Look’s new series: “Coffee Conversations with Rose Scott,” kicked off at Café ULU, a cooperative coffee shop in Southwest Atlanta.

As part of this ongoing program, the “Closer Look” team is heading out into the Atlanta community to speak with residents, business owners and community leaders about the issues that matter most to them from affordable housing to transit to gentrification.

Below are some highlights from the conversations from our first edition of the series.

Hekima Kanyama and Chinyere Kanyama Norman, founding board member and former board member of the Us Lifting Us Cooperative

(Grace Walker/WABE)

Café ULU opened its doors in Southwest Atlanta just over a year ago. Founding board member of the Us Lifting Us cooperative Hekima Kanyama and Chinyere Kanyama Norman, said the community has been welcoming. The father-daughter team sat down to explain the framework of their cooperative, which includes about 550 cooperative members worldwide.

On sourcing the coffee: “I think we’re the only coffee shop that focused itself on single origin coffees from from around the world, primarily from the African countries and the Caribbean countries that are dominated by our people.”

On how the cooperative model works: “Of course to be an owner you must first be a member of the co-op. And so we self fund at this point, so far. And but yes it is an inter-generational process. It’s not a quickie. We’re in here to bill the systems and the institutions that give us the capacity to incrementally control more and more of the economics of our own community.”

Atlanta City Council Member Antonio Brown

(Grace Walker/WABE)

Atlanta City Council Member Antonio Brown represents the district three region, which includes Vine City, English Avenue and Atlantic Station. He said a major focus of his administration is to restore generational wealth and secure more affordable housing for his community.

On his affordable housing priorities: “As a newly elected council member this is something I work towards every day. How do we ensure that the developers coming into our communities are developing permanent affordable housing solutions? How are we ensuring that we’re taking an English Avenue and Vine City where there’s only 8 percent of folks that own their own homes that have no real generational wealth? How are we ensuring that they become homeowners? How do we ensure that they have the ability to work in a job that’s paying a livable wage?

On running as a self-described political outsider: “From my personal perspective, I believe that we need more folks that care less about the politics and more about the people …  You know I really came on board to council as a bit of a disruptor … Let me tell you, I disrupted and passed a community loan fund, which redefines lending criteria for the first time in the history of the city of Atlanta.  That speaks volumes of the possibilities that lie within the art of disrupting.”

 Clarkston Mayor and United States Senate Candidate Ted Terry

(Grace Walker/WABE)

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry outlined some of his “progressive” platform and how he believes his experience as mayor could help him at the federal level.

On why he’s running: “I think we need new energy and new vision. And I want to bring courage back to Washington. Senator Purdue has been our senator for almost five years now and has never had a town hall meeting. Being mayor of a small town, or even a large town, you have to be you know able and willing to listen to the people and to hear criticisms. And his record I think is a great contrast.”

On being a self-described “progressive” candidate in 2019:  “I think there’s a lot of voters out there that are tired of the status quo of this sort of the centrism that exists I think across the Democratic Party … What that does is it alienates a lot of people, particularly young people, who have grown up in dire economic conditions …  And so we need candidates who are actually proposing bold you know ideas and policies and aren’t afraid to push forward.”