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Library café starts serving up news
Get your organic muffin and latte, with headlines from Shanghai, Paris or India
At most cafes, you might find a worn copy of the local paper left behind on a counter or table. Cal’s Free Speech Movement Café is going a few steps further. A new display of six front pages from newspapers around the world allows visitors to catch up with stories reported from London, Israel, Shanghai, Washington D.C., and elsewhere.
The display, supported by the Mass Communications Group Major and the Graduate School of Journalism, aims to highlight global viewpoints that may be missed in any one nation’s media. It seems to be working. One student commented “it’s interesting to see what makes headlines around the world.” The display has inspired her to seek out more information about certain stories.
Junior Kazuyo Kato appreciates how the newspaper display and its location near the Moffitt Library and café entrances make it easy for her to catch up on the news. As a non-native English speaker who is studying Spanish, she likes that newspapers in various languages are displayed, from El Economista to Le Monde.
The café’s educational role continues inside, with a menu using local, organic and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. Café operator Daryl Ross refers to a meeting with Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, in the early years of the café’s existence, as “an epiphany.” His realization of the importance of using local, organic, and sustainable ingredients has also influenced the menu at his other restaurants.
By featuring these foods in the café’s soups, salads and sandwiches, the café gives students a first-hand experience of their superiority in flavor and freshness, and an opportunity to understand the issues involved in their food choices. Two books published by Berkeley faculty this spring— Marion Nestle’s What to Eat and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals—offer in-depth discussions of the nutritional, economic and political issues presented by food.
Although the café’s coffee and dessert items include exotica like bianca mochas and chocolate banana bundt cake, the top-sellers are a small hot coffee and a whole grain bran muffin. Jose Luis Diaz, the café’s general manager, noted that at finals time, when the café and library are open 24 hours, espresso brownies become the top dessert items. Of course, the coffee is made from fair trade, organic beans, and bakery items use locally milled, organic flour.
Now in its sixth year, the Free Speech Movement Café was established thanks to the generosity of alum Stephen M. Silberstein. His gift also supported the digitization of the Free Speech Movement archives, and endowed library collections in the humanities.
Educational events held in the café this year included sweatshop workers discussing their experiences in the global garment industry, and presentations on the Black Panther Party and on Wal-Mart. With the café’s forums on social and political issues, responsible food, and now an international news display, the ideals around community and diversity implicit in the Free Speech Movement of the 60s and 70s are finding new expressions and appreciative audiences.