Romancing the Bean
Café is teen hangout
By PETER BOLTZ
Express Staff Writer
Its 8 p.m. and the parking lot in front of the Silver Creek
Alternative School in Hailey is full. The lights are on; somebody is home.
A lot of young people are home.
are a few of the countys young hanging at the Bean. Front row, left to right: Trista
Ballou, John Kremer, Lacey Peterson, Lindsay Mollineaux and Kali Selner. In back are
Christian Perez on the left and Audrey Hassall. Express photo by Willy Cook
Welcome to Romancing the Bean, a café for teens looking for an
alternative to hanging out in front of Atkinsons or in a car out cruising.
Given a casual glance, this café for the young appears to be a method for
keeping idle hands from concocting something in the Devils workshop.
Perhaps Romancing the Bean does do that, but to look at it from only that
perspective is to fail to see the larger picture.
Any adult visitor will quickly feel like he or she is in some sort of huge
teenagers room. Loud music competes with a loud video game and yet several
café-goers are reading, studying or conversing quietly. Others are loud and boisterous.
In the coffee bar proper, through a door into another room, about 10 teens
strewn on and across large, comfortable couches are watching a video.
With them was one of the cafés adult volunteers, Heather Thompson,
the "Queen Bean."
She said Barge Levy, headmaster of the Silver Creek Alternative School,
gave her the name and it stuck. Now, she wears the name on her vest, not as a matter of
rank, but for fun.
An adult volunteer, Linda Johnson, was there to help bartender Jesse
Olafson with his first night of making coffee drinks and Italian sodas.
The drinks were all a dollar on Friday night in honor of the Beans
Thompson said the cafés real birthday is Nov. 19. Since
Thanksgiving holiday conflicted with the anniversary, however, they decided to celebrate a
Cameron Jenkins, 13, said he didnt know where hed be if not at
the café. Before Romancing the Bean, he said, he "was out partying, which was kind
Laci Cantrell, 12, said that if she werent at the café, she would
be "hanging out with some friends doing nothing."
John Kremer, 12, said he had been coming to the café since last winter
and had introduced three of his friends to the place.
One of the café-goers, wishing to remain anonymous, said the café closes
down in the summer "for some stupid reason. Theres nothing to do in the summer
any more than there is in the winter."
When he was challenged with "You live in beautiful Sun Valley, and
theres nothing to do?" he said, "Well think about it. Its made for
adults and tourists."
Romancing the Bean is a creative response to a 1998 scientific survey of
96 percent of the students in Blaine County in grades 6 through 12.
Students were asked to agree or disagree to 40 statements that measure
their sense of empowerment, need for support, commitment to learning and five other
The survey replicated a national study conducted by the Search Institute
in Minneapolis, Minn. From that national survey, the institute developed a program it
called "asset building."
All 40 statements in the survey are assets or "building blocks of
Literature from the Search Institute says assets such as feeling valued by
adults helps a young person "make wise decisions, choose positive paths, and grow up
competent, caring and responsible."
Romancing the Bean supports a number of the assets for nurturing the
countys youth such as "feeling safe at home, school, and in the
neighborhood," "spending time in sports, clubs or organizations," and
"learning empathy, sensitivity and friendship skills."