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Buzzed Badger invests in B street community

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‘From the first moment we met, we talked about opening a coffee shop. Before we were even friends,” Shanyka Lock-Alcordo says, referring to her wife Jemarie Alcordo. The couple’s café, the Buzzed Badger (named in part for Shanyka’s identification with the vicious and internet-famous honey badger), has always been a shared dream. Though Jemarie is still in the military and can’t work there full-time like Shanyka can, they both have a long-standing investment in this space.

Before breaking into the world of third-space coffee shops, Shanyka worked at a Fortune 500 company, which never really suited her. She met a lot of café owners and discovered a whole culture of friendly people who care about their customers and colleagues. “One thing I noticed about people who own coffee shops,” Shanyka says, “is they don’t want to see another coffee shop fail. So they’re very supportive as a community.” Since opening a little over a year ago, Buzzed Badger has found that the simple concept of community is where their focus lies, too.

Tucked into a former massage parlor on B Street, off of Venetucci Boulevard just outside Fort Carson, the location does read as unconventional. Nearby bus stops sit on top of sprinklers or in areas without safe sidewalks, and the weedy medians and prolific potholes keep people away from the area. Sharing a shopping center with a vape shop, pizza place and strip club doesn’t really encourage foot traffic, but they want to change the reality of B Street, to see it well-loved, well taken care of and well-traveled.

“Our mission is to be in places we aren’t expected to be,” Shanyka says. “I feel like a lot of times communities like this kind of give up on themselves because everyone else gives up.”

As Buzzed Badger sits within the 80906 area code, one might expect Broadmoor levels of caretaking, but B Street exists in some limbo between the underserved southeast and one of the city’s richest neighborhoods, receiving the benefits of neither area. Money meant to revitalize the southeast will likely never reach them.

They have tried encouraging government investment in locations like theirs, but have seen little interest from policymakers. Jemarie says there’s no incentive for businesses to open up in underserved areas — no tax credits, few viable loan options — and nonprofits receive most of the suppport.
“I think we should be talking about [both] the nonprofits and the people who are willing to take the risk to open up businesses in these communities,” Jemarie says. But when it comes down to it: “I’ve always been the kind of person that, if I really want it done, I guess I’ll just have to do it myself.” She and Shanyka have used their own savings to keep the Badger afloat.

Committed to being a place for folks of all backgrounds to gather, both Jemarie and Shanyka are hesitant to play up the Buzzed Badger’s unique qualities. A sign they occasionally display points to their veteran-owned status, but the couple struggles with how to tell people it’s a LGBTQ-owned business, or a business owned by women of color — if any of that even matters.

“I don’t want to put too much emphasis on it, “ Shanyka says, “because that’s where segregation happens. I’m black; I’m a rainbow; she’s in the military; I’m female. Is all of that really relevant to community and being together and connecting?”

Without placing emphasis on any particular label, Buzzed Badger has hosted some successful community-minded events: open mics, weekly group hikes and the Between Meals series, which offers presentations with a feminist focus. In addition to building community, they want to support their community, to funnel donations into areas of high need.

Shanyka says she has benefited from relative privilege, with a loving family and a good education (she holds a degree in economic development; Jemarie in communication). But not everyone has that kind of support, and many less privileged people fall by the wayside. “I feel like the same thing happens with community,” she says. “Just because they are less privileged, you shouldn’t just abandon them. [We should] invest back to communities that were left behind.”

In the end it becomes less important whether they’re LGBTQ-owned or black-owned or veteran-owned, and more about what they do with that ownership. The Buzzed Badger has some big plans, including more neighborhood events, donation drives and public art. And though do-it-yourself community-building isn’t an ideal business model, they are willing to invest where others won’t.

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