Donkey Coffee & Espresso, 17 W. Washington St., is usually recognized for its wide array of coffee drinks and vast space for late-night studying, but it has also become a creative outlet for those with a passion for performing. Specifically, the shop’s Designated Spaces event has piqued the interests of many Ohio University students.
The event has been attracting students and community members since Donkey’s early beginnings in 2002, Donkey Coffee owner Chris Pyle said. Because of OU students, the event has continued to evolve throughout the last two decades.
“We just wanted a space where people could get up and share what was on their mind and share their feelings,” Pyle said.
Every Tuesday from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., students can surrender to the stage and perform original poetry, prose and spoken word pieces, as well as other art forms. The event is open to the public and judgement-free; those interested do not need prior writing or performing experience.
OU students who are fans of the coffee shop believe Designated Spaces provides the opportunity to express their emotions and lived experiences.
“I feel like it’s the perfect opportunity for students to have that creative outlet to blow off steam and release any pent up emotions or feelings they may be experiencing,” Olivia Christiansen, a senior studying journalism, said. “Obviously, college is really stressful and sometimes it’s hard to decompress after a long day, so what Donkey is allowing students to do is really great for the college student community as a way to take a load off.”
The weekly sessions are meant to be light and fun and a way for people to feel comfortable in a public setting.
“We have a question of the day that we usually pose,” Sophia Cobb, a member of the F-Word Performers student organization, said. “We usually ask a fun question, but it’s really open for anybody to come and tell whatever they want.”
Designated Spaces also elevates the stories of people who have conquered difficult experiences, allowing audience members to be exposed to new perspectives.
“One thing that we do that I’m really proud of is our survivor advocacy night,” Cobb said. “We have survivors come and tell their stories. We just want to make a really open space for everybody and I just want anyone to come up and feel comfortable and have a space where people can make friends.”
The event is also a space to promote the freedom one has to art, expression, thoughts and opinions.
“I’m huge into art and expression,” Pyle said. “I know that it’s really important for people to get up and share their thoughts whether it’s reading from a book that they love or that’s really inspired them, or their own poetry.”