John owns Kokkino Café on Sherbrooke Street. He also lives in the neighbourhood, on a lovely Notre-Dame-de-Grâce street. His coffee shop is frequented by a flow of regular customers, all greeted by their first name. John knows that I always order a coffee and one cinnamon bun, and that I sit by the window when I write a blog post. When there is a conversation at the counter, around the arrest of Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum or the Stanley Cup playoffs, I join in. Everyone is welcomed and treated with respect. John and Angela, Roy, Mike and Rebecca, Sara and myself are building our community over a strong cup of coffee.
Brenda lives with Ned in a house which also serves as Ned’s studio. Powered by chocolate chip cookies, my daughter banged the tambourine, strummed on a ukulele, and played on the staircase while I was sitting around a table captivated by the lives of six new friends who candidly shared their past for a future blog post. There were moments of interruption—a glass of juice for my daughter, a phone call, kids needing a hug from their mother—but in general, we were enthralled by each story and entranced by the emotionally saturated atmosphere. We were from Egypt, Israel, England, Iran, America, but around Brenda’s table, on a Monday summer evening, we forged a Montreal community.
Don writes about self-discovery, and its varied manifestations. His words invited readers to his world, and they jumped in head first. Ashley voices her anger about Ken Hoinsky and his Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Her words fuelled an unstoppable force of indignation and were shared by Rohan, along with a multitude of others, via social media because her written thoughts resonated throughout the online community…and eventually Kickstarter apologized. Anne publishes a post on Feminism. Her words reached 16239 readers in six days. She was outspoken, she wrote her heart out, she was opinionated. Her post is still generating conversation more than a week later.
Wendy speaks. She stands in a room wearing pink tennis shoes, and speaks for more than twelve consecutive hours. She is interrupted more than once, but she continues—she will see this through. The crowd outside the chamber cheers and chants “Let her speak“. And Wendy Davis did just that. She spoke until the Texas Abortion Bill SB5 failed to pass.
Melanie suggests that the world would be a better place if it was like WordPress. But the world is a better place because of John and Brenda and Don and Ashley and Anne and Wendy. Heroes create safe havens, heroes reflect on their lives, heroes write their guts out, heroes face animosity, and heroes just won’t shut up. For the sake of us all.
Featured image by Escif, from the site Unurth.