Paul Terranova

My day job is executive director of the Lussier Community Education Center. The Center started life as the Wexford Ridge Neighborhood Center in 1979 and by the mid-1990s was housed in two apartments in the Wexford Ridge apartment complex. We were later able to build a freestanding facility on school-owned land adjacent to Jefferson Middle School and Memorial High School.

Today we’re one of 17 community centers in the city of Madison, and we offer a wide range of programs—everything from leadership training to after school programs, English tutoring to a food pantry. We’ve been quite successful at bringing people from all walks of life to the space—though I’d love to see even more relationships built. We host a monthly community dinner, for just that reason. Join us—it would be great to see some new faces.

My most memorable caffeine was the chicory “coffee” that my then girlfriend (now wife) and I drank while we spent six months working at an arts-based day support and education center for kids living on the streets in South Africa. The kids who came to the center would jump a train into the city, most of them without a ticket, so they were always at risk of arrest, which would have put them in jail with adults. We weren’t a shelter, but the goal was to help get kids back to their families in the townships and off the streets.

It was an exciting time to be there—between Nelson Mandela’s release and the ANC’s transition to power. No one knew exactly what was coming next. I’d spent my college years drinking double espresso shots, and the chicory coffee was how I unwittingly weaned myself off my addiction to caffeine.

My current caffeine of choice when I’m having a treat is a decaf mocha—it’s my “guilty pleasure.”

My favorite place for caffeine is pretty much anywhere. A lot of my work meetings happen at coffee shops, so I tend to choose them based on whatever’s convenient for the person I’m meeting with.

 The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Desmond Tutu. He has a fierce dedication to justice that he’s carried out with incredible love, even in the face of such brutality.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  Combining merit and power to make good things happen. We have plenty of good ideas of what needs to change in our community, but people haven’t built the networks and the power necessary to achieve them. The first step is building relationships—which is where coffee drinking could come in—and the second step is figuring out how to use those relationships to drive change. Intensive listening leads to a sense of possibility, and we need to take the next step.