The SPACE expands and seeks College Park partnerships
By Meghan Curtis
The SPACE Free Art For All, a nonprofit organization in Greenbelt, plans to open, this winter, an adjoining coffee and gift shop, the Third Space Lounge. In addition to being a gathering point, the lounge will offer specialty coffees by the bag and skateboarding supplies — custom skate decks, grip tape, trucks, wheels and bolts.
The SPACE, which opened in early 2018 as a pop-up shop, transformed into a nonprofit organization in May 2019 and provides free art supplies and creative activities to promote wellness to people young and old alike. The Third Space Lounge will be the organization’s first retail initiative, and all profits from sales at the lounge will support The SPACE and the organization’s mission.
Shaymar Higgs, founder and executive director of The SPACE, envisions the lounge as a what’s called a third space, an inviting alternative to home and work environments. Third spaces are “really important to communities because it gives everyone a sense of being and a sense of place and … that’s really important for … our own social development,” Higgs noted. She added that the lounge will be a place “where people can get caffeinated in west Greenbelt, because the only other place to get coffee is in east Greenbelt, and that’s at Starbucks.”
Third Space Lounge will carry coffees, including Kopi Luwak, from the Reveille Trading Company, which is based in Atlanta. Reveille is a forward-looking coffee company that seeks to further economic inclusivity and direct trade by partnering with small farmers and roasters. Their Kopi Luwak coffee, with its Indonesian roots, is made from coffee cherries that have been partially digested and then excreted by Asian palm civets.
In addition to the opening of the Third Space Lounge, Higgs is looking to expand The SPACE’s free book program into College Park.
Currently, The SPACE partners with the Greenbelt branch of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. The branch donated about 400 books for a broad range of readers, including multicultural, bilingual and early to sixth-grade level readers.
To accommodate some of the donated books, The SPACE redesigned and stocked bookshelves for a satellite library in the Greenbelt Police Department’s lobby. “We are looking to expand that project, kind of like the Little Free Library [book exchange program]” said Higgs, who also hopes to expand the free book program by installing stocked bookshelves in grocery stores and other high traffic locations where people could browse and find a book to read.
Higgs believes in “taking it [the free book program] where the people are and not expecting them to come to you … give them books where they go anyway.”
Higgs hopes to bring bookshelves filled with books, magazines and art kits to interested businesses in College Park, as well. The library spaces operate on an honor system: People are welcome to take books and return them when they’ve finished reading.
Higgs anticipates launching this expansion with two to three free-book libraries to give the project wings.