Creating Common Ground
Many of you are quite familiar with Common Ground, or CoGro as it’s better know, but do you know the history behind it? What’s become a staple for many of you in your daily lives actually started out as just an idea by a group of three students, who were hopeful in the idea of a Queen’s, student-run coffee shop that could provide affordable and healthy options to their peers. This week will be looking at the story of CoGro.
As the first service of the new Millenium, Common Ground opened its doors in 2000. The original vision of CoGro came from an AMS team running for executive aspiring to bring a lounge-like cafe that would allow for more space for students to relax or do school work in a mellow environment. Though the idea was initially met with friction from the University, hesitant that student politicians were promising things they could not deliver on, the team of Paul Heisler (President), Bart Bonakowski (Vice President Operations) and Janine Cocker (Vice President University Affairs) worked so hard over the summer before the start of the school year determined to get it open, and they did by the Fall. The original location took the place of existing “Skylight Dining Room”, a cafe run by the University, located where the Brew and TriColour currently stand. It was at the time of its creation that the Ham, Apple, Cheddar sandwich was invented, later to be changed to the Turkey, Apple, Cheddar.
With a new service comes concerns and Common Ground was no different as people questioned whether it could be sustained or if was there a market for it. When the Athletics and Recreation Centre opened in 2009, the AMS proposed CoGro be moved to its current home, where it opened in 2010. Though, the service owes most of its history to the current form and space of where the Brew is. Today CoGro not only offers a variety of food, drinks and baked goods but also uses the lounge for concerts, debates, talent shows and poetry-readings. Employing 130 staff each year, along with 6 managers (1 head and 5 assistants), the majors of student employees range drastically from drama to math to sciences and engineering. Staff range in age from first through to fourth year, with even some on exchanges abroad! With a bustling 4 200 coffees sold per month last year, CoGro has proven itself to be a successful opportunity created by students and for students from all walks of life!