More than Coffee
By Krista Akers
A few years ago, an empty laboratory sat in the back of Nelson Science Center at Bethany College. Now, the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts from its doors. Though many college and university campuses are home to coffee shops, Nelson 116: Coffee Shop & Smoothie Bar proves to be unique.
Nelson 116 is a living, breathing classroom led by students and focused on promoting Bethany’s core values of community, sustainability, hospitality, and servant-leadership while maintaining the ability to adapt with the needs of the current student population. The space can continue to evolve, and we can further gain unique experiences.
Founding of Nelson 116
Six students originally were approached with the idea after Professor of Biology Mark McDonald and Campus Pastor Noni Strand agreed that providing a place to get coffee while the cafeteria was closed would be a great asset to campus. The students, also desiring some place opened in the evenings besides the gas station, loved the idea as well; and in February 2011, these founding members, Nichole DeChant, Marcy Erb, Michael Baker, Clint Jasen, Hannah Reber, and Lauren Von Klinggraeff, enrolled in a one-credit-hour Directed Independent Study (DIS) to develop the shop.
They decided to refurbish the unused lab as the future space of their project. Naming the brainchild Nelson 116 after its location in Nelson Science Center, they organized the restoration process of painting, flooring, and decorating. The founders valued sustainability, so development included volunteer labor from students and employees and using refurbished and donated material. For example, old desks were reused as tables and chandeliers once hidden in storage were hung from the ceiling.
To be socially sustainable, the founders created strong connections between Nelson 116 and other student organizations, academic departments, and the surrounding Lindsborg community. They constructed the shop with a warm, inviting atmosphere for gathering and learning. To be economically sustainable, they would employ students with federal work study funding and directed independent studies or senior projects. To be environmentally sustainable, they set green standards for Nelson 116 to meet. Though the coffee shop is still progressing towards these goals, it uses compostable cups and reusable mugs and focus on conservation and simplicity in its menu. Furthermore, a part of Nelson 116’s mission is to educate our community about sustainability through this on-going process.
“It’s pretty awesome that I’ve been involved in the opening of a business even though I’m 21 and a biology major,” says von Klinggraeff. Students who participate in this unique atmosphere by working to gain management or financial experience, displaying artwork, or performing music boost their resumes with one-of-a-kind experiences all while on campus.
For example, I am completing an Experienced-Based Education (EBE) internship by managing Nelson 116: Coffee Shop and Smoothie Bar. The staff includes eight students through federal work study, and we are advised by Professor McDonald. The menu includes coffee, frappes, frozen and hot chocolate, a variety of tea, and smoothies.
A place of growth & opportunity
Nelson 116 hosted its grand opening on April 5, 2013.
Personally, I feel so humbled and blessed to be a part of Nelson 116. The experiences I’ve had have pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I’ve grown as a person because of it. It’s absolutely incredible that I can include on my resume that I helped run a small business while taking 16 other credit hours. Plus, every day I get to practice my communication, time management, and other vital skills.
Because of that, I see Nelson 116 as a place of growth. Not only because we’re continuing to strive for our goals for the shop, but also because people can come to grow themselves. This is a gathering space for building friendships. This is a meeting area for making important decisions. This is a stage for displaying artistic talents. This room echoes with opportunities.
Come visit the shop in person. In addition to delicious coffee and smoothies, Nelson 116 also has much to offer its students, customers, and surrounding community.