Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Eagle's Landing in Eagle Rock
On days when I stayed home sick in elementary school, I would often spend much of the day under a blanket, on the couch, watching PBS. Most of the daytime programming on PBS seemed to have been imported from Canada. There were all these programs starring kids with Canadian accents addressing teen issues like drunk driving, peer pressure to do drugs, and depression. One of those shows has stuck with me: it was a program about the perils of keeping suicidal thoughts and ideation to yourself. In the show, this kid has a full-blown fantasy about his own funeral: he watches as the girl who spurned him weeps standing by his open casket, saying how sorry she was that she never got to tell him how much she really did love him. He yells at the bizarre scene, shot in mostly darkness with garish green and purple lighting: "I bet you're sorry now!" (In the end, the kid shared his feelings with his friends, who, being Canadian, were thoughtful and articulate in helping him back toward health and happiness.)
That all doesn't have much to do with anything. Eagle Rock has a new coffee shop, Eagle's Landing Coffee House (Townsend & Yosemite), in a location convenient for residents who live south of Colorado. Eagle's Landing reminded me of the Canadian public television programs because it's run by a non-profit organization and 50% of its profits go to support the R.O.C.K. ("Reach Our Community Kids") Teen Center, which is physically connected to the coffee shop.
The R.O.C.K. Teen Center features a few big couches, several computer terminals, free wifi, a pool table, and some gaming systems. When you get your coffee at the coffee shop they let you know that you're welcome to hang out in the Teen Center, which they refer to as the "Community Center" (presumably so you don't feel creepy hanging out there if you're above 19). You just walk through the open doorway. The R.O.C.K. space can apparently be rented out by anyone. There are scheduled meetings during the week for Narcotics Anonymous, a bible study, the Eagle Rock Multi-Cultural Society, and a teen-tutoring and mentoring group.
The R.O.C.K. Teen Center was originally founded in 1996 by a pastor from Eagle Rock Baptist Church who organized several neighborhood churches to get behind the idea (hence the bible study, presumably) to create a safe space for Eagle Rock teens. It's unclear what the religious organizations' connection might be to Eagle's Landing coffee shop, though I assume there's still some involvement. The kids at the counter mentioned that the coffee shop was run by a non-profit organization -- I'm guessing it's connected to the 501(c)(3) created by the churches when they founded the R.O.C.K. Teen Center.
The R.O.C.K. Teen Center.
The coffee shop itself is perfectly serviceable, nothing extraordinary. I had an iced coffee, which was fine. The coffee menu had all of the standard options, and there were some pastries available as well. The seating inside the coffee shop was pretty rudimentary, though the blue couch did look comfortable. The kids working at the counter seemed very earnest: the place felt like a non-profit coffee shop run by idealistic college students.
One unfortunate detail: when I was there, the two kids at the counter were watching WALK THE LINE on the big flat screen above the soda fridge and ice-cream freezer. They had the volume up really loud. I was the only customer there and they saw that I was writing in a notebook, but they didn't seem to consider turning the volume down. No big deal, probably just another sign of my advanced age and crotchetiness. But still, Eagle's Landing is probably not the place to try to read Proust or compose your screenplay about escaping a difficult teenhood in the suburbs of Salt Lake City with your dream to one day make it to a happening place like Eagle Rock. It probably works better as a place to quickly grab a cup of coffee in the morning or on your way somewhere else. Unless you feel like walking over into the teen center and perusing the reading material (the bible in several languages, SAT prep books, magazines, some other random books) or playing SPIDERMAN on the Xbox.
Coffee shop interior.
Regardless of your religious leanings (I'm on record as an agnostic Muslim -- whatever the hell that means), another coffee shop is not a bad thing for Eagle Rock, especially one at a location not on Colorado or Eagle Rock Boulevard. I assume there's no obligatory religious indoctrination that goes hand-in-hand with kids using the Teen Center. The place doesn't have that kind of feel about it. There were some kids at the Teen Center when I stopped by, reading quietly, checking their email, playing video games and pool. I don't really care who or what organization runs the place: kids do need a safe, quiet place that's always open to them, and the Teen Center gives them that. I'm going to try to support this place. I encourage you to do the same.