Welcome to the Pandemic Café

By Taylor McClure, Special to Brome County News

Cafés may be closed for the moment, but one local artist decided to take on the task of creating a space in the form a podcast where the community can continue to engage in what he refers to as ‘coffee talk.’
Welcome to the Pandemic Café.
“I am a content producer for a living, and I’ve wanted to start a podcast for a year and half now but I never pushed myself to do it,” explained Pandemic Café host Rugge Thomson.
With work at a halt, he thought that this would be the perfect time. “This is a really good time to actually push myself to do something and since we are overwhelmed with that news all the time and everything is COVID-19 all the time, I said why not start a podcast and chat with people.”
He described his approached to the podcast as very casual and that it was really started as a distraction. “It’s really off the cuff. Everyone is stuck at home,” Thomson said, “and a lot of people don’t necessarily have someone to talk to. Everyone has a different approach to this and it’s interesting to hear how everyone is dealing with it.”
The format, according to Thomson, is to start each podcast with a little skit he has written to just try and take the edge off. “It’s just some silly stuff I’ve done, and then I get into this chat with somebody. I started introducing recipes as well,” he added.
Thomson has spoken to various individuals from the local area that have provided different perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m trying to give different perspectives on what’s happening and to understand that we are dealing with it in our own way but that we still have a lot in common.”
“It’s a very informal platform,” Thomson said, explaining Thomson emphasized his podcast guests are not specialists. “There are specialists speaking all of the time. I’m more going for people that are doing things and reading stuff.”
He also put a call out to friends if they hear about any individual initiatives taking place in the community that are flying under the radar. “I put a call out to my friends asking if they have heard of any major initiative because I want to talk about that as well. It’s a huge part about what’s going on,” explained Thomson. “The governments are trying in their own ways, but the reality is that the people that are in trouble, and that are getting though this, it’s because their neighbors are helping them. I want to get people like that involved and initiatives that someone else hasn’t thought of.”
Considering many are diving into their cookbooks while isolating at home, including recipes and food to be a part of the podcast was a no brainer.
Part of the Pandemic Café plan was to also create somewhat of a virtual forum for the community to connect. In addition to the podcast, Thomson put together the Pandemic Café Facebook page. “The reason I started it on Facebook as well was to have a place where people can go. The whole idea was to create this virtual coffee shop. If you want to leave a comment, leave a comment and I’ll try and give feedback when I can.”
“I was just thinking, cafés are closed and people like talking and it’s an informal structure so it’s like coffee talk. You call people up and you chat, which you do in a coffee shop,” Thomson said, explaining the name Pandemic Café.
“I started this for fun because I have all this equipment at home that isn’t being used right now because everything has stopped, and a lot of people’s lives are really on hold. I said well hey, if nothing else, why not chronicle what’s happening and one, two, three, years from now we might look back on it remember what it was like,” commented Thomson.
“If I had a dream of what I would like it to be in a few months, it would be this thriving online community of people that can’t go down the street and talk, but they can talk to other people online about stuff that’s going on.”
If you’d like to tune in to the Pandemic Café, a new episode is usually posted once a week, you can go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/pandemiccafe/posts/?ref=page_internal.
If you want to be on the show, you can also reach out to Thomson over Facebook or at rugge@pandemiccafe.com.

Published in the April 21 edition of the Brome County News.

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