Strong communities are willing to share and listen to opposing opinions, consider them, and embrace them. We would encourage any and all to read Michael Deed's piece "Deeds: Not to be an ass, but spare me the Foothills coffee mule" And then we would like to continue the dialogue by adding that first and foremost, we are looking to build something that enhances our community, and we, too, see the special nature of the foothills.
At our first offering, there was a considerable amount of community displayed as coffee was shared and conversation emerged between different groups—all in a beautiful and very rustic setting. We would encourage those who might detract from us to come see what we are doing and have a cup of coffee, make an informed judgment. I think you will find that it does not feel commercial or “city” in the least. It is unique; it is innovative; and it is something that by its very nature (at least in this form) would be completely out of place in the city. Informed opinions also give us an element of respect in the dialogue.
Please, come, have a cup of coffee and then pass judgment. We have received an overwhelming amount of support from those who shared a cup of coffee with us last Saturday. And I don’t believe to a person that anyone would say our minimalist, packed-in, coffee setup felt like Starbucks… or Chick-fil-A… or any other pair of highly commercial fast food operations that individuals on both political spectrums might despise. Those selections provided some interesting context, as did the irrelevant mention that I am a “recent Boise transplant”. I grew up in a small Wyoming community—and there, too, it is beneficial to be seen as a native—your cell phone area code matters to many and God help you if it is from California! I AM (irrelevantly...) a transplant, but I have spent my entire adult life up until 2013 moving every few years to a new military duty station—Annapolis, MD; Quantico, VA; Camp Lejeune, NC; Okinawa, Japan (Iraq twice); Fairfax, VA, Annapolis, MD; Ft. Benning, GA; Ft. Bragg, NC… And now, I have settled in the best place I could find—a place I love, Boise, ID.
Some government administrators, Michael Deeds and a handful of others have embraced a “slippery slope” argument as a means to express opposition to our venture—“if we allow this, then what next?” I dislike “slippery slope” arguments because they essentially say that we (collectively) are not smart enough to distinguish between different items within a broad category on their own individual merits. I think we are smarter than that. I don’t believe bureaucratic institutions are always flexible enough to allow for that, but collectively, we are smarter than that. And it really is just too easy… this line of argument can be applied to oppose just about anything.
I believe there are other very large holes in the “if this, then what next?” line of reasoning that would become apparent to any who actually come see our operation. I can assure you that there are few who would embark on such an endeavor. Even if I were allowed to truly vend and took that route, there is no substantial money to be had from those exchanges once costs and time are considered. My operation last week involved hours of preparation and trail scouting. The day of, I was up at 3:30 a.m. and immediately in motion to do morning-of prep, get Richard (my mule) ready, travel, load supplies, hike into our serving spot, set-up. My day ended around 2:30 p.m--11 hours, and that was just the day-of. It is back breaking work as well--lifting an 85 pound pannier over your head to load a mule is not easy, nor is carrying the large amount of supplies I carried on my own back. This is not an attractive or lucrative prospect for others; you must have passion! You also cannot just go get a mule and load up your shop. There are substantial limiting factors of weight and volume—this is an operation I have been testing logistically for months. It is really, really, really tough to scale, and without creativity and some true community building, it will not survive. Corporate chains have neither the desire, the on-the-ground means, nor the grassroots support to make this viable for themselves.
The original Statesman article focused much on the permitting struggles and the less-than-forthright manner we were dealt with by some government administrators. Those issues were and are real, and I believe all citizens (regardless of your current opinion on the operation) would not want to face similar treatment. That said, this is not about “fighting the man” or proving a point. We absolutely support our natural, public lands and the overall mission of the entities that administer them. Over the long-term, we desire to work with them, as an information and fund raising asset to help preserve. We thought it was brilliant that Ridge to Rivers had a trail etiquette video placed within the Statesman feature—we welcome much more collaboration of that nature. Thank you to those who have experienced Café Mulé and those who will come to share a cup with us. Thank you to all who have expressed opinions. We hear you, and we will move forward with the intent to make this something that can be embraced by as many as possible within our community, in its execution and feel. -Matt Bishop