By Madeline Geitz
What’s cool and complicated about VISTA is that every position is so different. The one thing they all have in common is the capacity building focus. In my role as Systems Change Innovator at Eastside Financial Center, I have a lot of community meetings all around the Twin Cities. A result of this is that I often find nearby places to answer emails, work on a particular project or write VISTA blogs! Here are some of my favorite places to work away from the office:
More accurately, 99% of the time I’m working from “my desk” I’m really working from my partner’s desk (what can I say, it’s twice the size of mine!). While some people can be productive from their literal bed I need a clear, open space and to be sitting in a real chair. While I’m working, I enjoy listening to Coffitivity (https://coffitivity.com) rather than music; I find it provides just enough background noise to keep me focused without being distracting like music.
Groundswell – 1340 Thomas Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104
Groundswell Coffee is a super cute coffee shop in St. Paul. Their space has wonderful natural light and cute little benches with outlets perfect for doing work on (pictured). Additionally, their rewards program offers you one free beverage a month, which I use to my full advantage on my limited stipend. Moreover, Groundswell is a great place for collaboration and meetings with others – they have a good food selection, a friendly three-part layout (depending on your need for privacy and noise level), and local art in the front to begin a conversation.
Hard Times Café – 1821 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55454
Hard Times Café is not the place you go for a quiet atmosphere or picturesque décor (although if you like a grungy vibe like me it’s perfect for that). The cash-only café is open from 6AM-4AM so if you need to get out of the house or office to do work at almost any hour of the day you can be guaranteed a table. If you start getting hungry, they have an extensive and very cheap selection of all-vegetarian food. My favorite are the biscuits and gravy (though I don’t recommend eating the gravy over your laptop). Alternatively, you can walk next door for Ethiopian food at Dilla’s.
Minneapolis Central Library – 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Public libraries are some of the last remaining public spaces in the US where you can feel free to spend time without the pressure of buying anything. I’ve worked at quite a few across both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but my favorite by far is the Minneapolis Central Library. The architecture of the building is stunning, allowing perfect natural lighting and an alternative to somewhat cramped-feeling coffee houses.
UP Coffee – 1901 Traffic St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
UP Coffee is one of my favorite places to work because it’s close to my house. It’s puzzlingly tucked away behind railroad tracks amongst industrial buildings, but I don’t mind because that means it’s almost never busy. I’ve never not been able to get a full four person table to myself – perfect for the days I have a lot of stuff to spread out in my workspace.
What are your favorite spots?