The places that feel like home

These posts have been enjoyable to kick off. They are not only allowing me to look at the book slowly and retrospectively, within them I’m also able to add images and materials I didn’t have room for in the printed book. In this passage I talk about one of the places that impacted me greatly in high school: Koo’s Cafe. Going through my high school album, I found some great old images and flyers from the golden years at Koo’s.

I’m curious what venues and spaces inspired my friends and colleagues? I’ve heard The Garage has been an instrumental place for young musicians in MN (wokka wokka), and First Ave clearly formative for many.

What spaces influenced who you are today and how you work?


Koo’s Cafe, Costa Mesa, CA

— September 1997

I arrived with my friends to the house-turned-venue slightly before dusk. After we found a place to park we hauled all the gear inside, up a series of small stairs and through the back. We set the music equipment down in a small living room connected to the kitchen, and I wandered over, peeking behind the counter to see if anyone I knew was working. Sure enough!

Koo’s Cafe was a historic Costa Mesa home that had been turned into a coffee shop, art gallery, and music venue. I have a soft place in my heart for Koo’s. A community mural wall in the back, coffee cafe in the kitchen, art along the walls, and live music on nights and weekends. Throughout high school and college my friends’ bands would play there often, and I spent quite a bit of time lingering in the various rooms and hovering around the kitchen. A converted residence, it’s no big wonder it always felt like a home away from home.

“Hey, it’s my friend again!” Terry, the barista, smiled and stepped out from behind the counter to greet me with a big bear hug. “You always smell good. Like vanilla!” I laughed, and he grinned. We chatted for a bit while the bands sound-checked, then everybody meandered into the other room while the bands geared up to play. A bunch of us piled on a couch while other kids piled onto chairs and more kids milled around towards the front for the show. The bands played on, and we spent the rest of the night surrounded by friends, art, and music.


This post is adapted from It’s Never Going To Work: A Tale of Art and Nonprofits in the Minneapolis Community with illustrations by Athena Currier. Post graphics by Jamie Schumacher. ©2018 Jamie Schumacher.

It’s Never Going To Work is a light-hearted, illustrated book that offers real-life insights on founding a community space and nonprofit. It provides tools, tips, resources, and camaraderie to community organizers and anybody attempting something new.