We’ve seen some pretty great things happening around the place lately, ambitious individuals making cool stuff happen for those in need or without a voice so we thought we’d start talking about these awesome people; #peoplespeople if you will!
Some of you may know Lauren Tennent from Peoples Constable Street store. Part barista, part pixie, Lauren is famous for serving epic coffee with a grin the size of a half-wheel of cheese.
What you may NOT know about Lauren is that her work outside of Constable Street has made her something of a Peoples legend.
Lauren began working with Peoples Coffee towards the end of 2013 and has been instrumental in helping develop the Arohata Project – a Peoples Coffee run programme offering barista training to inmates. As the head trainer and key coordinator for the project, Lauren is a big part of why the initiative has been so successful. Her open, inclusive nature have helped to build trust with both inmates and staff at Arohata and her passion for restoration & rehabilitation for prisoners is pushing the project to new and exciting places.
Lauren believes the project has national appeal and that it is just the first step in what she hopes will be a shift in thinking toward prisoners in general:
‘The main thing is I’d like to see it as a sustainable, national programme. With real world, transferrable skills, not just coffee but a range of skills. Ideally we’d have communities and cafes onboard who would offer employment. Once people start understanding that prisoners can be and are an equally valuable part in our communities then attitudes will begin to change.”
Arohata, however, is only one of the social justice projects that Lauren is involved with. As the Outreach liaison for the Victoria University branch of JustSpeak, Lauren helps to coordinate events, generate interest and drive the general direction of conversation for the not-for-profit organisation. Their recent forum, focussed on problematic drug use, was about providing an open environment where free and frank conversation could be had on a sensitive issue. Lauren considers the Peoples Coffee sponsored forum a real success and was surprised by the diversity of those in attendance – something she had hoped for but not banked on.
‘It’s what it’s all about; connecting with different people within your community and talking about issues that you can never tackle alone.’
JustSpeak’s next forum on ‘police discretion and how that relates to discrimination within our justice system’ promises to be equally successful with 3 local speakers including Rethinking QSO, Kim Workman.
Lauren’s commitment to social justice is in part spurred by her studies – she is currently pursuing a degree in Criminology and Psychology at Victoria University which she loves; ‘I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve been able to align my degree with my passions and apply what I’m learning in a real-world context.’
The girl is pretty much a super-hero in my book, though she’d hate me for saying it.
More than anything else Lauren does what she does not because of any great need for recognition but because she generally thinks that things could be better for some people, more even, less harrowing. Which is a pretty cool outlook.
September 18th, 2015
Posted In: Uncategorized