A Colorado-based organization, The Blind Cafe is a fiscally sponsored organization operating under the non-profit 501(c)3 of The Boulder County Arts Alliance. Since 2010, The Blind Cafe has been delivering unique and inspiring positive social change events nationwide, all held in complete darkness & facilitated by legally blind keynote speakers and facilitators. Donations and contributions raised from our events and fiscal sponsorship donations, support the continuation of the innovative and experimental social change programs The Blind Cafe brings to the world!
The Blind Cafe's mission is to use the concept of darkness to inspire and initiate 'positive social change' in the lives of everyone who participates in our programs. We seek to entertain and educate persons on how to relate to themselves and others with a greater sense of compassion and offer an experience that inspires them to think, feel and behave beyond their visual conditioning, social etiquette and their cell phones.
The Blind Cafe is a fiscally sponsored positive social change organization, that uses the concept of darkness to create innovative and imaginative ( pop-up ) events held entirely in the pitch dark ( no blindfolds ). Our events are facilitated by professional trained 'legally blind staff'' and designed to change the way you 'see' the world. Since 2010, The Blind Cafe has had over 12,000 people through the dark.
Our signature program, 'The Blind Cafe Experience' is a pop-up event, an award winning community awareness concert, discussion & dinner in the dark, no blindfolds! This is NOT just another dinner in the dark…it’s a community experience where people connect, learn and break bread together without their visual conditioning, social etiquette and cell phones.
The Blind Cafe was started by Brian Rocheleau, known by Rosh in 2010. After experiencing a cafe in the dark in Iceland while on tour as a performing singer-songwriter, Rosh felt inspired to use the concept of darkness, to initiate positive social change experiences for people, in hopes they would have an opportunity to re-relate with their world in a more meaningful and compassionate way.
Rosh wanting to see what it was like to perform music and to provide the experience of listening to live music in the dark for his community, without the distraction of their cells phones, social etiquette and visual conditioning.
He partnered up with a foodie friend Chef Marcus McCauley who was inspired to create a sensory tasting experience. He then met his friend Rick Hammond, a spoken word artist who happens to be blind and introduced the idea of creating a Blind Cafe Experience, where the attendees would have the opportunity to experience: 1) a social community dinner ( everyone break bread together at 6 - 8 person tables ), 2) a heart to heart discussion as a group in the form of a Question and Answer with the blind staff and the sighted audience about blindness and 3) a live music listening experience
The experience rings people in via something they are comfortable with dinner. but with a twist, it’s in complete darkness. The guests ( 50 - 120 ppl ) literally break bread together in the dark at community tables. This instantly takes a crowd of people who otherwise didn’t know each and would likely not interact as much or mindfully, in the light; become part of a collected experience as they are all going through the same darkness ordeal of no vision.
The darkness breaks down a lot of social barriers as everyone has a collected experience without being seen, in the dark it doesn't matter if you are black, white, tall, short, blind, wearing grateful dead clothes or in a business suit. It's a powerful forum to create a social impact on people.
Then comes the educational component, where a Tibetan singing bowl is rung to bring everyone’s attention together. The audience is taught to participate in an ‘active listening experience’ where they learn to listen and engage as a group. This is the blind awareness component of the event, where the legally blind waitstaff ( or ambassadors ) share their personal stories about their blindness and the audience is engaged in a question and answer forum. This is the heart to heart experience in the dark where people ask questions they would never ask in a lighted setting. The blind staff open up about their lives, it’s very intimate, personal and vulnerable. The fact that everyone is in the complete darkness, the impact of the Q & A is ten fold, due to the fact that no one has the distraction of their cell phones, or visual cues. They are intentionally setup through the active listening, to receive a more compassionate and inspirational experience from the Q & A.
Next comes the live music in the dark experience. Now that they have shared food in community with one another and shared a discussion about blindness, the music gets them into their emotional bodies. Rosh & the Blind Cafe Orchestra, performs a set of 5 - 9 singer-songwriter songs accompanied by a quartet, with a varying line up of guitar, male /female vocals, cello, viola, violin and piano. Experiencing music in the dark at this point in the event is very powerful as people are allowed to be fully feel the emotional impact of music without the self conscious glances of being seen by others.
“I actually cried during your song ‘Transcend’ which is not something I would have let myself do, if I knew that people could see me. But knowing that I was invisible, it was much easier to let my emotions flow and that felt SO healthy! It was also nice to end on a higher emotional note with everyone singing and standing together. Our table was all holding hands and swaying too! I walked out of there with such a happy full heart!”
— Katie Maginnis, Seattle
Our Blind Awareness Impact Partnerships
To empower the blind community, the Blind Cafe partners with The VEX Project-a vocational enrichment provider, redefining blindness through community resources, career mentoring, and professional consultation. Richie Flores key-note speaker of the Austin Blind Cafe and a private Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist devotes his time to coordinating various initiatives that promote positive growth for the blind community. To inspire healthy living, sports, and recreation Richie encourages the blind to "keep moving forward," as we all should towards a positive future.
Meet The Blind Cafe Family
We are inspired help initiate change in the way you 'see' yourself and others!