[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvEngDku8VU] The best thing about On Sacred Grounds, a coffee shop in Valleyford, is its owner Elaine Rising. First of all, what a cool name. Elaine Rising, it sounds like a book title about a woman overcoming hopeless odds. I don’t know much about Elaine, other than that she grew up as a Byzantine Catholic and wears distinctive hats everyday (like the ones your grandma wore to church back in the day). Even though she’s a stranger, when I walked in today with Rev. Marj Johnston of Shalom Ministries, Elaine chatted us up like we were old friends. Here’s what we learned: – On Sacred Grounds is expanding. It’s under construction right now, but when it’s done it will have an art gallery for local artists to display their work. Elaine is open to religious art. – There are lots of books for you to read at the coffee shop, including a row of religious texts. Elaine will put any religious book out, as long as it isn’t vile. – On Sacred Grounds is named so because conversation and coffee is something that spreads throughout numerous religions. But it’s not necessarily a religious store – Elaine said her ministry is being kind to anyone who walks through the door. Oh, and if you watched the video above – that’s just Elaine. Someone inquired about a beautiful, antique organ in her shop and she happily sat down and played. So, if you like quirky places like Rev. Johnston and I do – check this place out.
Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.