- Erin Sullivan
At first the idea – hosting a home brewing workshop at a nonprofit coffee co-op – seems peculiar.
Hunkered over an India pale ale I scour the flyer, set on Redlight Red Light’s bartop like crisp linen, a second time. It heralds Downtown Credo Conduit’s partnership with Redlight Red Light owner Brent Hernandez to inject some ethanol know-how into the mix for an afternoon at the popular College Park hangout.
“I was glad to accept [the invitation from Credo] and am doing it to promote home brewing and educate people about beer,” Hernandez tells me. “I plan on covering some beer history and walking through all steps of the process ... it should be fun!”
Visiting Credo didn’t initially illuminate any common ground for me, either. Between the stark-white walls hung with framed crochets and rustic photoscapes sat an arrangement of modern-chic furniture fit for an IKEA catalogue. Then I met the woman -- Shannon Staunton of Conduit, the co-op’s “creative division” -- whose workshop series has bridged these two worlds.
“When you think of ‘art,’ the word can be as broad or narrow as you make it,” Staunton says. “Whether it’s photography or graphic design or fixing up street bikes, it’s the passion you have that defines it for you.”
Passion. No doubt both RLRL and Credo have loads of that. Despite what differences stand between their shops, Staunton and Hernandez understand that Conduit’s workshops could propel both of them -- and their patrons -- forward, and unite them, if only for one day.
“There have been so many different workshops, and we get quite a mix of people in here to see them,” Credo barista Sarah Heiberg says. “Artsy kids, soccer moms, guys who want to learn how to sew. They’re all people working next to each other who may have never met otherwise.”
Speaking directly to the Redlight-Credo connection, Heiberg says, “A bunch of us grab beers over there, a lot of their bartenders stop by here. It felt like a perfect fit to invite them here to speak about what they love.”
“It really helps break down the barrier between creative endeavors, as well,” Staunton adds. “Our art is on the walls, and theirs is behind the bar, but it’s still the same impulse.”
Staunton graduated from University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies, but she spent much time as an undergrad drawing and painting in campus art studios. After graduating she suddenly found herself devoid of those resources, lacking the tools to make the art she loves. That’s when she realized there must be others in the community sharing her circumstances: hungry to create but without the proper outlet. So she started a project on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.com for what eventually became Conduit. The new nonprofit organization was poised to host collaborative seminars allowing artists to meet and discuss their craft, while even discovering new ones, all free of charge.
“The pitch attracted nearly 100 donors and $4,000,” Staunton says, “so I could tell there was really an interest in this sort of forum. Downtown Credo saw this as well, and our shared interest of giving back to Orlando made a partnership the next logical step.”
Conduit held its first seminar series last May and has facilitated 28 individual workshops since its inception, including Hernandez’s home brew class this Saturday, July 28. The Redlight Red Light owner will give a crash course in beer history, categories, and production of ales from grain barley. The workshop begins at 11 a.m.
“I wanted to equip artists to accomplish their art, no matter what their passion may be,” Staunton says. “I’m just glad we can give people a venue to do that.”
Conduit Presents: Beer Brewing With Brent Hernandez
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, July 28
706 W. Smith St.