Firestorm Cafe & Books, downtown Asheville's cooperative community event space, is excited to announce the initiation of a major reorganization and renovation effort to grow and sustain its existing community resource focus. The co-op, located at 48 Commerce Street next to the Thirsty Monk, will suspend normal operations starting on September 17th and will relaunch on October 16th, following the first comprehensive review of its operations and governance model since its doors opened in May of 2008.
According to Firestorm Collective member Julie Schneyer, “This is a very exciting moment for us, both as a business and as a community resource. While we know our absence will be felt, we are looking forward to re-opening stronger, more sustainable and more connected to our community than ever before!”
Planned renovations – which include new flooring, an expanded book area, public computer terminals and a laptop bar – will be financed in part by community investors who commit $25 or more in exchange for 110% of their contribution's value in books, merchandise, food and/or beverages following Firestorm's relaunch in October. The Firestorm Collective is also seeking assistance with construction, remodeling and finishing work. A renovation schedule, including a list of community work days, is available at http://firestormcafe.com/relaunch.html.
“Over the past year, we've put a lot of our energies outward, from #Occupy to the ongoing campaign against the BID,” notes Firestorm Collective member Sy Lawing. “It's definitely time for us to look inward and sustain our core work, the operation of this unique community event space. I'm thrilled that so many folks are lending their hands, and their dollars, to support us.”
Firestorm Cafe & Books was hatched through the Mountain Bizworks' Foundations Program in consultation with the Southern Appalachian Center for Cooperative Ownership (SACCO) and operates under an innovative, worker-owned business model that uses income from the sale of cafe fare and books to support community building.
Over the last four years, Firestorm Cafe & Books has hosted over 850 unique performances, discussions, forums, benefits, workshops and films in addition to a regular open mic and tabletop game night. Firestorm provides ongoing meeting space to numerous grassroots organizations such as the Asheville Homeless Network, the Asheville Local Exchange Trading System, Aspergers Adults United, the Center for Participatory Change, the Community Accountability Crew, the WNC Cooperative Economies Forum and the WNC Linux Users Group.