Final Thoughts

CAP Opening Celebration

Dear Cafe au Play Community,

Thank you for your kind reflections about Cafe au Play. Your words make the sadness of letting go a little bit easier. Cafe au Play has been a journey for me and I have learned an unimaginable amount. I am sincerely thankful for all the support the community has given Cafe au Play over the years and all the incredible people I have met along the way.

My final thoughts about Cafe au Play:

If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.― Michael Jordan

My 12 year journey of visioning, building and operating Cafe au Play has been a journey of achieving despite the roadblocks. The funny thing about roadblocks is at the time they occur, they frustrate you and you wish they hadn’t presented themselves to you but when you find a path around them or over them, you realize they were actually opportunities. They offered you a chance to learn something new or important. They offered you the chance to partner with someone new.  They made you stronger and wiser. They build character, and they are a necessary part of your journey. My daughter is 15 years old now and she was 3 when I started Cafe au Play. She is beginning to understand this truth – life is full of roadblocks and it is how you handle those roadblocks that make you stronger and wiser.

During this journey, I have had the opportunity to work with board members, staff, community members, business owners, volunteers and family members that truly cared about helping Cafe au Play succeed. The people that come to share in the hard work that it takes to make a place vibrant and worthwhile, touched my life. The people that offer support when you reach out your hand for help, make the struggle and challenge worthwhile. Working with my father to level the concrete floor and helping the contractor dig dirt for the placement of the basalt rocks are memories that I will have forever. Seeing Cafe au Play transform over the years has taught me that if you want to change something, you can by bringing people together to make that change.

The other part to all of this is how important it is to step up and do your part. Cafe au Play was not created by one person, it was created by thousands of people. We all need to do our part so places like Cafe au Play have the opportunity to thrive. As we go through the visioning process again for Tabor Commons, a new idea will develop and a new place will exist. Let’s continue to work together to make sure this new place has the heart of Cafe au Play in it – building connections and offering opportunities to anyone that wants to get involved.


Kristin Heying
Cafe au Play Founder & Director

End Note:  If you would like to get involved in the community revisioning process for Tabor Commons, please sign up on this google form:  Thank you!

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Comments About the Closure of Café au Play, Celebration of Community, Accomplishments and Looking Forward

Café au Play is closing. Sunday, December 6th is the last day the café will be open. 

Why is Café au Play Closing? The closing is not the result of financial difficulties. Café au Play is debt free, has adequate operational funds, and a small surplus. The cause of the closing is our assessment that our current operational structure is not viable. While it was our goal to explore alternative models in the new year, unexpected staff shortages forced the issue. The goal from the beginning was for Café operations to be self-sustaining. Last year we came close to that target but the trend lines since that time indicate that this goal is unlikely to be reached. Simply put, Café operations and the Barista Training Program have only continued because of subsidies generated from the Holiday Tree Sale.

Other factors also contributed to our decision to close – the departure last year of our long term café manager, continued reliance on a small group of dedicated volunteers, the challenge of attracting nonprofit board members, and especially the difficulty of hiring experienced café management and staff in a competitive job market where our limited resources put us at a disadvantage. Increasingly, the ability to focus on our nonprofit mission and vision was being submerged beneath the weight of tending to the everyday details of running the café. We could not continue to call upon our Executive Director to prop up what had become an unsustainable model. Everyone was getting burned out. It was time to reassess.

We have also come to the realization that many of the services offered by Café au Play, while valuable and innovative when first envisioned in 2004, are now available in other venues. A quick check of PDX Kids Calendar shows the many opportunities that young families now have to make connections, share social time, and enjoy child-focused activities. It also shows that the original nonprofit mission of creating a space that was neither membership-based nor pay-to-play is probably not workable in today’s environment. Perhaps this explains why the first generation of leaders who founded and built Café au Play, and whose children are now teens, have not been replaced by a new generation of young parents willing to carry the Café au Play vision forward.

Celebrate those who made it happen – Those who volunteer their time and resources to nonprofit organizations and community projects are special people. There is no way to truly thank them. There are so many instances of people who stepped up when Café au Play was most in need. Café au Play has also been blessed with a long list of community partners – public and private. While not all of our supporters are displayed, we encourage you to check out the Recognition Trees on the north wall of Café au Play for the names of those who have contributed. We have tried to honor their trust. We celebrate the staff and Barista trainees who were the hands, heart, and public face of Café au Play. We celebrate the neighbors and families who bought coffee and goods at our cafe and trees at our Holiday Tree Sale. We celebrate the artists, performers and educators who created its lively social atmosphere. Finally, we celebrate the founders who launched this innovative idea 12 years ago, the board members who sustained it, and especially Kristin Heying, Café au Play founder and Executive Director, whose vision, resourcefulness, and perseverance are the rock on which Café au Play was built.

Celebrate our accomplishments – Café au Play has been a pioneer in creating an open family-friendly space, and offering family-oriented support, educational, health, and creative arts programs that are available to all. Through the extraordinary dedication of the Executive Director, board members, volunteers and public and private funders, we turned a derelict property with a disreputable past into an award winning community showcase, recognized for its whimsical mural and for its integrated rainwater retention features that also served as a playspace for children. We have fulfilled the charge of those who participated in the community visioning process in 2006 to create a community meeting space, compatible with the neighborhood in scale and operation, featuring attractive and sustainable green scape and hard scape features.

Café au Play is so many things – children will remember the sandbox and playhouse, hiding in the cozy space under the big tree, exploring the basalt rocks, the art workshops, music and puppet shows. For parents there was the new fathers group, parenting workshops, farmers market, the rental space for birthday parties, and so much more. The Café served as a gallery for artwork and a space where performers could develop their craft. We developed a Barista Training Program that created a stepping-stone to employment for many students. All these wonderful activities fulfilled the mission of Café au Play to “meet the needs of diverse families for a comfortable, accessible space that encourages social interaction, genuine and sustainable support, creative stimulation, and community inclusion.”

Looking forward There is a time for everything. The new year creates an opportunity for the Board and Executive Director to thoughtfully reassess Café au Play’s mission and purpose. We will draw into this conversation individuals and partners who have been instrumental in our development. The Tabor Commons site is owned by Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition (SEUL). As their tenants, we have already involved a representative of their organization in these discussions. The original development of the Tabor Commons site was created during a community visioning process in 2006. Café au Play was a good fit with that original vision. We intend to work with SEUL and the Tabor Commons project to develop a new visioning process. Given the development activity that is rapidly moving up Division Street, it is important that the community also be engaged in the conversation about the future use of this community-owned property. In partnership with SEUL and Tabor Commons, we have put our heart and soul into making this a beautiful functioning space. We want its future use to continue the Café au Play legacy of community service and engagement.

Thank you,

Café au Play Board and Executive Director

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Cafe au Play Closed Nov. 30th

Cafe au Play CLOSED Monday, November 30th due to staffing shortages.

Sorry we are closed

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Tree Sale Delayed – Starts December 3rd!

Cafe au Play’s eighth annual Jingle Mingle Holiday Tree Sale is starting on December 3rd due to a delay in our first tree sale delivery. Stay tuned for more details about delivery time!

Tree Sale Photo 3


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Author Reading Tomorrow – Rodo Sofranac!

Saturday, November 28 @ 11am to Noon – Rodo Sofranac Book Reading: Polly & Peaputt!

Author Rodo Sofranac is hosting a special reading of his Polly and the Peaputt books!

Join award winning author, Rodo Sofranac, in hearing, seeing, and maybe even performing from the series Polly and the Peaputts. Rodo’s granddaughter Beatrice, and her mom and dad, live close to Mt. Tabor and visit Café au Play often.

About Polly & Peaputt: Polly lives, loves, learns, and laughs with her family and friends in Peaputt Place. Together, they share values that build strong and lasting relationships. Peaputt stories are presented with words, melodies, and illustrations that make discovery a fun journey for all the senses.

About Rodo: Rodo Sofranac has worked with young children for over 40 years, as a teacher, translator, and mentor. In addition, he has raised four of his own, and now grows with his grandkids. Rodo lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his loving wife, Susan—who is constantly helping him with his English—some of the kids, and two big, romping adopted dogs, Leonard and Cruiser.


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Cafe au Play Closed for Thanksgiving

Cafe au Play is CLOSING for the Thanksgiving Holiday! We will re-open November 28th at 8:30am. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Six Week Infant Massage Class – Begins Nov. 16 @ 9:30am

Monday, November 16th @ 9:30 to 10:30am – Infant Massage Classes facilitated by Alejandra Hudon of Integral Steps! Suggested donation: $5-7.

Six week class starting November 16th through December 21st – Mondays from 9:30 to 10:30am!

Infant Massage offers many benefits to both your baby and you! Bring your baby (or babies, 0-12 months), a cozy blanket, and gift them with an hour of massaging and calm attention. The instructor will walk you through safe motions that can be practiced daily.

The beneficial effects of infant massage range from promoting self-regulation, neurological maturation, and motor development, to supporting better sleep, temperature regulation, food absorption, and providing an excellent tool for attachment development.


Infant Massage Class Photo

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