A night of poetry reading, storytelling, singing and joke-telling entertained the crowd at the Bread and Cup Coffeehouse event at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown. But for the Rev. Kevin Porter, the Bread and Cup Coffeehouse founder, the show is more than entertainment; it is about building positive relationships within the neighborhood.
“It is a third space,” Porter said of Bread and Cup. “Everyone talks about how they need a third space. You have two spaces in your home and at your workplace. And this is a third space. A safe place to go and gather with and be amongst community.”
Porter started the event in 2003 as way to promote the interaction among racial, generational, economical and cultural boundaries that exist. Porter’s inspiration for the coffeehouse event came from an early Christian tradition.
“The whole idea started as a riff on the Agape Feast,” Porter said, “and that whole concept is a welcome table for whosoever.”
Porter explained that the idea of blending together diverse members of the church and neighborhood is an effective method in forming meaningful bonds within the community.
“So many things these days are targeted to a specific demographics. You have your seniors, you have things for kids or one particular ethnic group, but the idea behind Bred and Cup is that we are all in this together,” Porter said. “We all have something that we are able to share.”
Porter believes that through stereotyping, and other preconceived notions, members of a neighborhood will miss out on friendships if one does not engage with each other. He hopes that the coffeehouse will be able to start the interaction and construct these relationships.
“There are some similarities in what appear to be different and there are some differences in some things that may appear similar,” Porter said. “And when we share we have ability to learn, grow and have more of a sense of community.”
Bread and Cup has had a regular crowd attend the event, but Porter is still trying to diversify the crowd.
“Right now the crowd is usually black females around 55, which is fine,” Porter explained, “but we are hoping and trying to get some younger members of the community.”
One of the younger attendees to the event was David Washington. Washington is a comedian who has been attending the event since the events beginning.
“I’m a bit of a regular here,” Washington said. “I have been here since 2004 and have been in love with it ever since.”
Washington said in previous years the event had a slightly larger and younger crowd. He felt that lack of younger attendees is due to the event’s time change from a 7 p.m. start time to 4 p.m.
Porter has been trying to spread word of Bread and Cup through handing out flyers and putting information into newspapers. Washington has faith in Porter’s attempts to attract younger of the community.
“Slowly, but surely, they will come back,” Washington said.