I'm as cynical as anybody. I understand Starbucks is in the business of selling highly priced hot beverages and hooking us all on caffeine, but I was very impressed by what I participated in yesterday.
As part of their Month of Service initiative, Starbucks got 750 of us to gather at 8am yesterday morning in the cold, pouring rain so we could beautify, clean up, sustain and improve the Jane and Finch community. Yes, they gave us tee-shirts and an unlimited supply of coffee, hot chocolate and Starbucks grub, all part of their corporate branding strategy, but we were also greeted by volunteer carpenters and an abundance of materials and collectively spent several hours building educational gardens, cleaning and painting (both interior and exterior), and building structures such as park-style seating greenhouses, a rainwater catchment system, composters, fencing and retaining walls.
Other than the 90 minutes we were spike-less (I was building these cool benches), it all went off without a hitch, even in the pouring rain. At the end of it all, before I left, I walked around the Jane Finch Centre to see what 750 people high on caffeine could accomplish in one day. It was awfully encouraging.
Good job, Starbucks.
[photo by Becky Hewlett]