The cafe can be a catalyst for social cohesion - it's what a community centre is all about. The space has got to be flexible enough to do several things, to work for all members of the community and to sustain itself beyond the life of a funded project.
We liked welcoming entrances and open, visible space: we asked 'How can we make our space both welcoming and secure?' We thought about whether people relaxing in the area would be affected by others using it as an entrance to the centre, people propping their bikes outside etc, kids rampaging and so on. We could make it visible but perhaps not directly accessible from the road and have passive security in the form of barriers such as a living fence or the placement of furniture. Alternatively we could have two entrances.
We agreed to keep the momentum up by communicating via email, blog, website and meetings. The Local Food, Communitybuilders and Community Voices applications will hopefully keep us together and focused, plus the 'virtual cafe' Mayor's Fund events between now and November. Ruth, Loscinia and Jane are going on the Buildings by Design course on 24 & 25 February at Hackney City Farm. We could make a physical model of the centre for local people to look at - the displays have generated quite a bit of interest, alternatively we could make a virtual model to put on the website, using Sketch Up.
We need to maintain a broader perspective - what else do we want to do with the building and how can we make it more navigable and welcoming as a whole? We can carry on looking for sources of funding that broadly fit in with what we've decided to do, but be opportunistic too - a Place for the 21st Century.
We agreed to meet on 3 March at 4pm, to feedback on the design course and progress on the applications and business plan. More information about the brief, finding an architect, planning regs and costings to follow...