Our Story
Ian and Eileen Edwards are pastors in the Moravian Church. Ian is originally from West Edmonton, Eileen is from the Bronx, New York. In August 2009, they moved with their family from Staten Island New York, where they had served a church for five years, to Sherwood Park to pastor Good News Moravian Church and start a new church somewhere in the Edmonton area. They soon learned that it’s best to start a church in your neighbourhood, and they already had a great little church down the block…theirs. In getting to know the community through a research project and many conversations, it became clear that what Sherwood Park is really looking for is community and connectedness.

During this time, Eileen had been volunteering at The Carrot, a community coffee house run by Arts On The Ave. on 118Ave. in Edmonton. One day after a meeting at The Carrot, someone suggested, “why don’t you guys start a version of The Carrot in Sherwood Park?” And the idea for Common Ground was born…a volunteer-powered community coffee house where people can connect and share what is important to them.

Being Volunteer-Powered
We used as much volunteer labour as we could in the creation of Common Ground…basically everything that didn’t need a professional contractor was done by a volunteer. More about this in the renovation section. Our barista staff is volunteer and currently numbers around 45. In order to facilitate this we have a simplified menu focused on getting a few things really right.

The Coffee
We believe we’re part of a global community, so we serve coffee that is ethically sourced, in this case direct-trade coffee from Intelligentsia.

The Business Details
Common Ground is in a category of business called ‘social enterprise’ or ‘for-benefit’…businesses that have a primary goal of making their community a better place to live. We have two over-arching principles, be an effective business, and be a gift to the community. People have asked us where the profits will go. We love the optimism this shows, and plan to be wildly successful of course. When we do start generating profits we’ll have to comply with the rules governing not-for-profit companies, and a committee of people from our team and the community will decide how to distribute the funds to make our community and the world a better place.

Initial funding came from the Moravian Church, but Common Ground was formed as an incorporated not-for-profit. Although started by pastors and backed by a church, Common Ground is deliberately non-religious in order to foster openness to all.

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