Published May 13, 2011
Find common ground at JBLM hangout
MOLLY GILMORE; Contributing writer
Coffee Strong serves more than coffee.
Just outside the gates of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Lakewood coffee shop is a gathering place where soldiers and veterans can find not only free coffee but also access to counseling and information about meeting places and services available to them.
If you’re not a soldier, you’re welcome but you will have to pay for your coffee.
The nonprofit coffee shop, which bills itself as pro-soldier and anti-war, is the subject of a new documentary, “Grounds for Resistance,” which premieres Saturday in Olympia and includes an opportunity to talk to filmmakers and veterans.
“As an organization, our goal is to try to help soldiers any way we can,” said Joseph Carter of Seattle, who helps manage Coffee Strong. “This ranges from navigating the process for applying for disability through the Veterans’ Administration, to helping with legal assistance, to providing a place for soldiers to hang out and talk – or if a soldier has a band, giving them a place to play.”
Carter, a veteran and 2010 graduate of The Evergreen State College, is one of four main subjects of the film, all young veterans who helped to found the shop.
He and other subjects of the documentary will be at Saturday’s premiere along with director Lisa Gilman of Portland.
Gilman, a folklore professor at the University of Oregon, discovered Coffee Strong while doing research on the music soldiers listen to while they’re deployed. “Grounds for Resistance” is her first film.
“I found what they were doing to be so compelling and so important that I started the filmmaking project,” she said.
The film focuses on the first year of Coffee Strong, which was founded in November 2008 and is now one of two such GI coffee shops in the United States.
“The film tells their personal stories,” Gilman said. “It also shows how they create community for each other as they are struggling with their experiences of war, their politics, their feelings of guilt, their trauma. They are a real support system for each other at the same time as they are participating in regional and national activism.”
That activism is focused on helping soldiers rather than on politics.
“You have everybody here, from a peace activist or a pacifist who is against all war all the time, to someone like myself who says, ‘Hey, I think the Iraq War is poor foreign policy for America,’ ” Carter said. “We have this common ground. We support soldiers.” ‘Grounds for Resistance’
What: This documentary about GI coffee shop Coffee Strong, just outside the gates of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, will have its world premiere in Olympia. Veterans and filmmakers will be there for a Q&A after the screening.
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. S.E., Olympia
Tickets: $8.50, $5.50 for Olympia Film Society members, $4 for kids
What: This nonprofit coffee shop is a gathering spot where soldiers can hang out and get access to support services as well as free coffee and Americanos. But the shop is open to everyone, serving Stumptown coffee and a full array of espresso beverages.
When: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Where: 15109 Union Ave. S.W., Lakewood
More information: 253-581-1565 or www.coffeestrong.org