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changing the world one cup at a time

November, 2009


by Amanda Neely Much is said about nosey or noisy neighbors. Given the chance, would we really want to get to know our neighbors next door or would they just cause more trouble than they’re worth? Don’t we already have enough relationships to keep busy with, especially in our virtual communities? Who has time to talk with our neighbors or do a community service project when there’s a whole new set of status updates on Facebook? It’s so much safer behind our computers too. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic but I see great potential in neighbors coming together socially and with a purpose. Neighbors can do so much more together to benefit each other, their neighborhood and the world than a community that only exists online. Just as conversations can be more informative and productive when you can see everyone’s face and body expressions so too community dialogue and action can be more informative and productive when people gather together in the same room or on the same sidewalk. This past month I volunteered in a neighborhood cleanup and I went to a park advisory council meeting. These 2 activities took up less than 5 hours of my time during the past month but I learned more about the South Loop and its needs than I could’ve ever learned online. Plus, I met some people who were extra nice to me. I’ve built great friendships with people who live within a mile of my home from meeting them face to face. If I had tried to build friendships with these same people on the web and never actually met them, it could have been creepy. I’m the first to admit, however, that I heard about the neighborhood cleanup and park advisory council meeting through my email inbox. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t engaged in online research first and signed-up for a few e-mailing lists directly related to my neighborhood. This is the power of using virtual communities to promote faceto-face activities. I like how Scott London puts it, “electronic networks, especially when augmented by face-to-face networks, can strengthen communities by serving as "free spaces," by fostering dialogue and deliberation, and by enhancing the bonds of trust, reciprocity and connectedness that make up social capital.” Read his full essay on this topic at: Here’s a new phrase I picked up about neighbors: “Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbor's noisy party than being there.” What if we got to know our neighbors so well that they invite us to their parties? Even better, what if we threw a party and invited our neighbors? Tis the Season.

E-mailing lists we recommend for South Loopers: The Alderman’s. Sign up @ The Greater South Loop Association’s. Sign up @ Overflow Coffee Bar’s. Sign up @

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Overflow Coffee Connection – October, 2009

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The mission of Overflow Coffee Bar is to give South Loop residents, students and workers the opportunity to change the world. In October, Overflow had our first educational event: “Think Global, Drink Local.” This event furthered out mission primarily in two ways: 1. South Loopers were educated about direct trade coffee as a way to change the world and 2. South Loopers were able to meet or reconnect with one another and develop friendships with purpose. Our mission is advancing even while we diligently work to get the resources we need to open the doors of an actual coffee shop. We’re already starting to work on our next educational event and looking for ways to encourage volunteerism and promote artists.

Visit to view some photographs from “Think Global, Drink Local.”

Do you want to contribute to the December issue of Overflow Coffee Connection? Please send us your ideas for articles, pictures, etc. Be creative!

Now go out and change the world. Questions? Have ideas? Contact Amanda at or 773-919-6960. Also check out, and

Overflow Coffee Connection Nov. 2009