The first time I found myself at Common Ground Cafe, I was documenting Naed Smith from the Catholic Worker House. Dan Webster, who was writing the piece, and I followed him around for hours as he moved through Allison Hill–helping out at Common Ground Cafe, talking to people, eating with neighbors, checking in to satisfy needs in different community spaces, showing us the gardens where he grows food, and eventually, helping a woman move all of her belongings into a storage space. I remember Dan commenting, “We’ll never know how much Naed does for people,” and he was right. Naed is intentional–present and loving and peaceful.
Specifically, the introduction to Common Ground Cafe during our time with Naed stretched my expectations for spaces that aim to serve. There are so many instances where volunteer organizations, religious organizations, or volunteers themselves might intend to do good, but the mark is missed when care is not given to foster a safe, loving space to build community. Common Ground Cafe and the people who gather there embody those qualities that are essential to truly serve our homeless and underserved neighbors.
Here is a mashup of organizers, volunteers, and neighbors who come together for Common Ground Cafe every second and last Saturday of the month.
They’re always looking for volunteers! If you’re interested in joining them, just email Clay Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to Jeff Sigel from Gather The Spirit and my bud, David Yancey who helped out and made it possible for me to make images in this space. You’re both real swell fellas and I appreciate you, for sure.