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Finding community through coffee - Caffeine Nation brings together random coffee lovers amid pandemic
Story by Tina Hennigar
If you’re Facebook friends with Tony Lantz of Conquerall Bank, or even if you’re not and do a search using the hashtag caffeine nation, you’ll find a community of coffee drinkers he’s created.
It began on March 23rd when Tony, who would typically commute to Halifax where he works in Admissions at NSCC’s IT Campus, was forced to work from downstairs in his home while his wife was teaching primary and grade one students upstairs.
“It started [as] a satire of my new commute.” Tony explained he would take a picture of himself drinking coffee in a sometimes unique mug in his backyard for his lunch break or during his coffee break in the laundry room. He’d hashtag the photo Caffeine Nation and encourage others to do the same with their ‘mug-shot’. “It just took off.” Some Caffeine Nation posts have received as many 108 mug-shots from people, including 19 pets, and contributors from all over Canada and the world, from as far away as Dubai. “I’ve met a lot of people and it helped me get to know others better,” Tony said.
Tony is confident that Caffeine Nation will outlive COVID-19. There are people who participate every Friday. And when Tony attaches a theme request, such as the time he challenged people to dress in a Halloween costume, his followers did not disappoint!
People get creative with the vessel they drink their coffee out of. Tony has even been gifted a mug or two. “I try to support local businesses where I can.” Tony said that he’s used Fancy Pants, Wiles Lake Farm Market and Town of Bridgewater mugs in his Caffeine Nation posts. But Tony admits, this is about more than mugs and the coffee that is consumed from them. It’s a way to check in with others.
“It really comes down to not knowing who needs what you’re putting out into the world. I just did what millions of people do - posted a picture of me with my coffee. I didn’t anticipate that others would start to look forward to it,” Tony said of what he’d call a small act. Tony believes that even simple things can go a long way to help lighten the heaviness of a pandemic. “You may perceive something as being inconsequential when it’s making a real impact on others.”