by DJ Martinez
On Sunday I hit the snooze on my alarm more times than I wanted to. I was up late at Sea-Tac Airport, where I’d seen Luis Rodriguez, maybe 10 hours earlier protesting for the release of two people detained due our new president’s executive orders. Luis co-owns The Station, a community coffeehouse with his wife, Leona Rodriguez, which opened in May of 2010.
When not there, you can count on seeing his face at most protests, a city council meeting or community event (physically, or through his Facebook live feeds.) My intention was to get up early enough to catch the very beginning of the soft opening celebration for their new, roomier spot at Plaza Roberto Maestras right across the street from their current building.
The coffee shop’s new home is only about 75 percent complete, but the Rodriguez’s held firm to a January opening in order to coincide with the first month of Trump’s presidency. And, according to the event’s Facebook description, “To let him and white supremacy know that we are NOT going anywhere and, that we are NOT going to live in FEAR!!“
When I got there (45 minutes late) I ran into Luis who greeted me with what is, as far as I can tell, his usual greeting: a big smile and a hug. “Good to see you again, so soon!” He exclaimed. I asked him about The Station’s relocation.
“We’re moving to a new, bigger location, because we needed it.” He said. “We have packed the place to the max with POC (People of Color) and we need to make a bigger place, you know for more of our POC, and LGBTQ folks – a safe place for all of us.”
I asked him how one creates such a place. “Acknowledging your privilege as a human being,” he replied. “Surrounding yourself with those not like you, people who can bring you different ideas and thoughts and points of view in life. Acknowledging that my way of living is not the only way, and I think the people notice that and feel that, the love.”
The love is definitely felt.
Having arrived late, I was worried I’d missed the beginning ceremony. “Did it start at 10?” I asked Luis. “No it starts at 11. I just put 10 on the event page to give people enough time. You know our people,” he joked.
Is there a term for the opposite of a microaggression? Cause that is what that was. A comforting small way of telling me he was thinking about me and my needs. And it’s evident from the turn out, that the community is feeling the love, too. My interview with Luis was interrupted by community members wanting to say good morning and give congratulations. Luis and Leona are celebrities in their own right, and so are the many artists who work at the magical, intersectional, zeitgeist coffeehouse.
The event got started at 11am with two eagles flying over head, just as the ceremony organized by Danza Azteca group Ce Atl Tonalli began. They were joined by Ken Workman, great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle who gave a blessing at the celebration.
The Station just signed a 15 year lease in their new space, sending a loud and clear message that they have no plans of going anywhere, even in a rapidly, gentrifying city like Seattle.
I asked Luis what he saw in store for The Station’s future. “I see a place that will bring in community. We already know that The Station is a community, but like, opening the eyes of our actual neighborhood. To be like, ‘I like this feeling [when people walk in the door]. How can we do that somewhere else?’ And I see other businesses say, “I want to do the same thing, create a place that is not only about selling coffee, but is about creating community.”
In this current political climate, I can’t think of anything else that’s more needed. I’m thrilled that The Station is thriving, and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it shows the opposite. Check out The Station’s new location across the street, which is set to open Monday, February 6th.
Hailing from the Bay Area, based in Seattle, DJ Martinez is an artist whose sarcastic, politically-minded work includes sketch comedy at Bumbershoot with Queerz: We’re Hilarious, performing stand-up comedy, and producing The 5th Estate podcast in collaboration with the South Seattle Emerald and the Seattlish blog.