Central Grounds has been in existence since 2001. Originally created as a separate 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, several years ago BUY assumed operation of the corporate entity and now Central Grounds is one of the core initiatives supported by BUY.
Central Ground’s mission is to enhance Bloomington community unity by providing a chemical-free, safe, and fun “coffee shop” environment where all high school students feel welcome and valued. Goals are to reduce the use of drugs and alcohol among Bloomington high school students, to increase the sense of community in Bloomington, and to cultivate business, leadership, artistic, and solid decision making abilities in youth.
Central Grounds is run by high school students with the guidance of adult volunteers.
There had been talk in Bloomington since at least the early 1970’s about the need for a place for teenagers to go when they’re not in school. Shortly after BUY was established in 1998, the BUY board the addressing of this need as a priority. In March 2001, a meeting of about 50 high school students from the two Bloomington high schools was organized by Jefferson High School junior and BUY board member Treb Allen. The students elected a 10 member group, five from each high school and asked them to investigate how to establish a youth coffeehouse. Treb and Stephanie Nyman, a junior at Kennedy High School, we elected co-Presidents.
The first fundraiser for BUY was scheduled for October 2001 as a “Battle of the Bands” at the Bloomington Armory, but after the September 11 attacks, the Armory was off limits and the concert was moved to the Jefferson High School cafeteria. Despite the venue change, attendance was excellent and bands from as far away as Eau Claire, Wisconsin gave good performances.
Through 2005, many additional events were held. Big events included an acoustical concert at Wally’s Roast Beef on 90th Street, and a series of Battles of the Bands leading to a “championship” Battle of the Bands at the Normandale Bandshell.
While Central Grounds events were very successful, efforts to find a permanent location were frustratingly unsuccessful. Through 2007, options to buy buildings, rent buildings or borrow buildings were all explored. Several presentations were made to the Bloomington City Council in an effort to persuade the city to provide a suitable space. Finally, in 2008, the BUY board decided to suspend efforts to create Central Grounds. Central Grounds remained in hibernation until April 8, 2011, when it emerged from its slumber and opened its doors in the Creekside Community Center.
This effort lasted only until late 2013 when, for a variety of reasons, Central Grounds at Creekside closed its doors. BUY continues to explore what the next chapter for Central Grounds will be, and invite the community to join us in imagining how to best reach our goals.