When the Motley Coffeehouse first opened in 1974, it was a far cry from the bustling student mecca it is now. Three student baristas and one general manager sold a humble assortment of coffee, tea, juice, and pastries from what was essentially not much more than a lemonade stand. Now, the Motley employs more than 60 students who are dedicated to maintaining a sustainable, socially responsible business that supports feminist ideals.
“In the past 40 years, our business has grown and changed immensely,” says networking manager Katy Keisling ’15. “We’re always looking for new and creative ways to share our herstory with the community and invite and foster positive change in our space. We had many fun events this semester, including student-led workshops and local band performances.”
The event-packed spring semester was kicked off by Mystical Menagerie, the Motley’s fantasy-themed re-opening night, complete with twinkle lights and baristas dressed as whimsical forest creatures. “We have lots of fun coming up with themes for re-opening night,” says Keisling. “We try to pick themes that can be widely interpreted so everyone can construct their own awesome and unique costumes.”
The Motley’s inclusive environment makes it an important gathering place for the Scripps and greater 5C community. “Over the years, the Motley has become an ideal location to host events that draw in a wide audience,” says Katelyn Muir ’14, community engagement manager. “The space is not only a resource to host our own events, but also for CLORGS (clubs and organizations) to host events, such as film screenings and panel discussions.”
In April, the Disability, Illness, and Difference Alliance (DIDA) hosted its first major event at the Motley — an ally training and disability discussion. Another standout spring event is Diva Night, a collaboration between the Motley and 5C organization Feminist Coalition, where the Motley hosts a beer garden and showcases the 5C’s female DJs.
“What makes the Motley special is that it’s completely student run,” says Katie O’Brien ’14, barista and former manager. “We believe in sourcing from students because we want them to have the autonomy and power to express themselves. For some, the Motley may just be a fun place to hang out, but I believe it has the potential to be more.”
For students, the Motley is more than a place where they get their morning cup o’ joe. “The Motley builds community and brings people together in a way that the residence halls or classrooms can’t,” says Ale Veyna ’14. “It’s my go-to place for a bit of comfort. I automatically gravitated to it when I felt overwhelmed as a prospective student, and its Mexican hot chocolate still makes me feel warm, cozy, and safe.”
“One of my most memorable experiences at Scripps took place at the Motley,” says Charlotte Rosenfield ’15. “As a first year, I stopped by for a drink and saw one of my friends hanging out on a couch. We spent the next hour chatting about school and life in general. The experience was so spontaneous and organic.”
The Motley will always hold a special place in the hearts of students both present and past. And this year, the coffeehouse provided a chance for generations of Scripps alumnae to mingle at its inaugural mixer, held during Reunion Weekend. It was a great success, with many alumnae stopping by to reminisce, hang out on the comfy couches, and, of course, sample some of the Motley’s delicious creations.
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