MEET Andrew Whaley
Since he was a boy in Southern Missouri, hanging out behind the counter in his dad’s store and nailing boards to an old tree in his backyard in an attempt to build “The Ultimate Clubhouse”, Andrew has been a little obsessed with the ideas of community and place, as well as the relation between them. After many, and thankfully untried, concepts like “a diner for kids” and “a high school nightclub”, in 1988 he finally gave it a shot, opening a skateboard shop his senior year in high school, with plans to expand it into a skate park. Due to his inexperience and pride, along with a hefty dose of burglary, it failed miserably, nearly taking his health and sanity with it at the young age of 18. In the tragic wake of the loss of his first business, after an authentic but immature religious conversion, Andrew met his fate while skateboarding in the Central West End of St. Louis. Looking for something to drink, he wandered into his first coffeehouse, unaware of the existence of such a thing, and the potential of the form of community he saw there would haunt him for the rest of his life.
He became obsessed with the concept of developing a community of faith, anchored around a coffeehouse, in which those unable to be reached by conventional ministry methods could slowly develop relationships and come to a deep faith over time. In 1994 this led him and a friend to found an innovative ministry in Columbia, MO to attempt just that. It started strong and ended ugly, but in the process Andrew returned to the Roman Catholic Church and caught a glimpse of the community that had alluded him. During his time in Columbia, he was a regular at the local coffeehouse, where he and his friends would hold court in a manner worthy of the Inklings in Oxford, carrying on long spirited conversations and debates, usually centered around theology and philosophy, but always marked by an ardent search for truth shot through with wonder. People on the fringe of these conversations would be drawn in, relationships would form, and in the end conversions happened. The firm belief that this is the real potential of a cafe became deeply entrenched in him.
In the following years this dream would drag him through corporate coffee jobs, managing and building independent coffeehouse, founding a wholesale coffee company, selling coffee to independent shops all over the country, and owning three coffeehouses of his own. Along the way he managed to pick up the bulk of a philosophy degree, a degree in Great Books from Thomas Aquinas College, attempt religious life, and work as a wine steward for 6 years. All the while he was fine tuning and chasing the vision in his heart to use this form of place to create a true and real community for the sake of reaching the hard to reach.
After he closed his final coffeehouse, beaten up by a year of 100 hour weeks, he started Calix Consulting in an attempt to help people build coffeehouses with purpose. His first client was the Augustine Institute, a fairly new and innovative Catholic graduate school in Denver, CO. He moved there for a 3 month contract to build and launch a coffeehouse for them. By the end of a series of construction delays, Andrew had fallen in love with Denver and Denver seemed to feel the same, so he stayed on and ran the shop he had launched. The cafe has been something of a crucible for apostolic innovation in the New Evangelization. Ideas have been hatched and implemented, apostolates dreamt up and founded, along with countless conversations about how to reach this generation. In this environment, he began to emerge as the voice of a movement dedicated to using hospitality to create a form of community that could foster relationships with the unchurched and seeking.
Now, Andrew has brought the experience of his entire 26 year quest for community into a new apostolate of his own, dedicated to developing and establishing a new type of community to help the Church face the challenges of reaching a new type of generation.
CALIX IS A CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, DEDICATED TO CREATING PLACES WHERE HOSPITALITY, JUSTICE, AND CRAFT FOSTER A FORM OF DAILY INTERACTION WITH THE UNCHURCHED AND SEEKING, THAT CAN BLOSSOM INTO REAL RELATIONSHIP AND DIALOGUE OVER TIME.
We plan to connect the thousands of people God has given this vision, to develop a national network of independent non-profit coffeehouses, cafes, coffeebars, and coffeehouse/bookstores in which the the respect and credibility won through the Good and Beautiful, in the form of design, craft, hospitality, and justice, can earn the right to be heard regarding the True. These shops will run the gambit from completely secular retail establishments, reaching out only through conversation and relationship to post-modern cafe-centric Christian communities, housing small chapels, marked by the schedule of the Liturgy of the Hours, and offering classes, spiritual direction, and everything in between. This network will be augmented by strategically placed prototypes ran by Calix in which leaders can be apprenticed, trained, and readied for this innovative new apostolic work.
Calix will create a content-rich online interface. It will house a dedicated podcast, articles, a blog, training videos, a form to share your vision and ask for help, a private social network in which people can connect and help each other, and an innovative new threshold funding solution to help people find and engage donors for their specific projects. This will all be supported and promoted by a vigorous social media presence.
For certain projects, Calix will roll up it’s sleeves and get in the middle of the project hands on, offering onsite concept development, site selection, interior design, architectural drawing, menu and operations development, and equipment selection. In addition to these, Calix will offer training in the theology and methods of engagement with the different types of people in different stages of their search for God, with an emphasis on the unchurched/dechurched. Finally, we will help build the vision in the team and larger community if it is in a parish, school, or campus ministry, speaking after mass, helping to create vision materials, and offering town hall style meetings in which a community can ask questions about what their community is doing.
Calix will found a series of physical models to allow people to see the vision being lived out in real time. These places will placed in strategic locations around the country, so that someone wanting to visit or come for help will never be more than an affordable plane ticket away. They will house training seminars, both in craft and method, apprenticeship programs, and eventually roasting and tech support for projects in the same region.
Andrew will speak at conferences, at dedicated Calix events, and has just signed on to do a radio show on the innovative new Real Life Radio online station and app. Calix will visit several conferences in the Catholic world and the broader Christian world, as well as coffee industry conferences, to promote Calix, the taking seriously of reaching the unchurched/dechurched, and to find and connect with those harboring the calling to do this form of outreach. At some events this will take the form of a simple booth/table and at others the form of a full scale on-site coffeebar.