Directors Notes: The Magic of Recovery Cafe

I started the day early with an interview with Campbell, a member of Recovery Cafe in Seattle, Washington.  She worked on the oil pipeline in Alaska and lived that wildcat lifestyle, and when she was done chasing money she brought all the bad habits back to Seattle.  But that was a former life as she has been a participant at Recovery Cafe for 12 years now; and in her words, the cafe is transformative. She lives an intentional life that includes yoga and a variety of spiritual studies that go along with it.  She practices compassion for herself and others and no longer uses alcohol. More importantly she belongs to a supportive community that supports her and others, helping all of them know that they are loved and respect. The Cafe here is her life line, and she travels 30 miles one way just to get to it here in Seattle.  One might say why bother-? Well, this is where she belongs, this is where she is a contributing member, and this is the sacred space where she is known and loved for who she is.

Recovery Cafe in Seattle, WA

Today I am filming part of a Recovery Cafe event in Seattle, WA that includes people who have come from Washington DC, Raleigh NC, Longmont CO, Lowell MA and other various communities in the Washington state.

Two years ago my crew filmed at Recovery Cafe because it is a sacred space that Killian Noe its founder calls “a place of belonging and becoming.” Communities in need have come to this model after seeing that in the post rehab environment people can become the best versions of themselves.  The recovery cafe model includes love, tenderness, compassion, and requires complete abstinence from drugs or alcohol. It has a spiritual component, but is not faith based. This is not a day treatment center or egalitarian. All of those who come have a stake in the community, and are members, not clients or patients.  Each member must be involved in a recovery circle and volunteer with the various tasks that keep the operation going(clean up, food serving, etc.), and for this, they have access to resources such as classes, recovery meetings,  meals, conviviality, and a community that is tender and supportive. It is a clean substance free space to break the feelings of loneliness, depression and triggers to use substances

Changes occur with the members over time as they find a safe place to be,  a better person to become, and a better friend to be. This is a sanctuary of safety, and is its consistency is a critical piece to its members spiritual and personal growth. I have been filming here for two days, and tonight I will go home and pull the best sound bites and send the audio to my colleague DeJohn who has been working with me on this project for the past two years.

The amazing thing about Recovery Cafe is that people who struggle for spiritual growth have to face their trauma, substance abuse, and mental illness issues. Peer support and deep listening is a huge part of what makes this bird fly.  Here at Recovery Cafe, people acknowledge the pain that brought them to the movement in the first place. They learn to stop thinking of themselves as broken, and find themselves grateful for being broken, opening themselves up to divine transformation. Recovery Cafe is a sacred sanctuary, and an invitation to live life to the fullest.  I will be back to Seattle over the next few months, and my plan is to have this edited this fall. The words of compassionate care are echoing in my head as I head home.


Scroll to Top