Q1.1 What made you open a cafe in Changhua?
Clare: We were both raised and educated in Changhua. There was never a cafe of artistic aesthetics. We picture a cafe not just selling coffee but more importantly, a platform for flowing information that connects people with issues and matters. With this in mind, we established The Planet.
Q1.2 Was it originally the plan to open a store just the two of you?
Clare: Back in high school, there were eight of us that dreamed of opening a cafe. At that time, we all figured that we could make use of our different talents in running the cafe together. However, as time passed by, everyone turned out to have different life plans, so it’s now just the two of us.
Q1.3 Where did your “high school coffee dream” derive from?
Clare: There was a cafe called “A Cup of Good Coffee” located in Changhua Yongle Street. We used to go there all the time in high school. The owner was extremely hospitable. He often shared with us coffee knowledge, interesting stories of running cafe and a lot more. Also thanks to him, we made acquaintance with some cafe owners in Taichung. It was then the dream of opening a cafe of our own got embedded in our minds.
Q2. Was your previous occupation related to The Planet?
Clare: Before The Planet, our jobs were totally unrelated to coffee. Clare was working for a Japanese company in human resources. Tu was a secretary at Show Chwan Memorial Hospital.
Q3. During the process of running a cafe, are there any interesting stories to share?
Tu: The day after our opening day in 2011, a group of New Zealanders came in. They were English teachers in Changhua at that time and were talking about going to Iraq as international volunteers. They then talked about how they appreciate and admire the environment and dishes The Planet offers. It was a really nice thing to hear that we are appreciated and favorably recognized.
Clare: For the past five years since we’ve started business, we see The Planet as a platform for information exchanges. That’s why we always welcome all kinds of events to take place here. We even held an enzyme drink tasting gala once. We really do welcome anything. As for lectures that we held, we had invited anti-nuclear power singer Panai, music critic Chen Te-Cheng, Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), etc. Particularly, at the TAPCPR lecture, participants took turns to share their perspectives and feelings with a mic. Many shed tears. You could feel that the person in possession of the mic was empowered and made visible in expressing feelings that came with tears. At the moment, a special atmosphere was created, and this is a role that cafes play in modern society.
Q4. The Planet has been collaborating with Awaken Changhua Alliance to hold lectures. Would you like to share something in particular?
Clare: Out of all the lectures we held in collaboration with Awaken Changhua,one lecture was about the plan to move Tainan rail underground. We realized that most of the information we know about this issue was from news and major media. Whereas, local people from Taiwan were invited to share authentically about the plan. What was the variation between local people and the government? In the lecture, we learned that what we saw from the outside must bear differences to some extent from what the locals saw and experienced first-handedly. This is the important meaning of holding lectures,
the information exchange.
Q5.1 In recent years, the railway elevation is a heated topicin Changhua. What do you think will happen if one day theChanghua footbridge (Zhonghua Bridge) disappeared?Clare: We reckon the railway elevation in Changhua a fake issue. As a cafe, we offer service on a regional basis. Take The Planet for example, we are located on Zhonghua Road. Our daily living parameter does not really extend to the other side of Zhongshan Road like Changhua Christian Hospital,Changhua Senior School of Commerce or Bagua Mountain. That said, people now living under the bridge will still come to our cafe even if they would need to make a u turn. If the elevation plan is promoted in the name of facilitating economics or changing living parameters, I don’t really see the necessity.
Q5.2 From the point of view of urban planning, is it necessary toelevate railways in Changhua?
Clare: What a city truly needs is the collective memory of its city development. If we elevate our railway just because Taichung and Yuanlin have elevated their railways, we build a sky trail just because other cities have had it, we try by all means to introduce chain stores just because other cities are fully occupied by those, is this kind of urban development a desirable collective memory to the people here?
Q6. What do you expect for your cafe that has now thrived for five years?
Clare: During the past five years, we’ve been promoting lectures and workshops in collaboration with many partners to pass on information and minor cultures. However, the people we have attracted, those who genuinely care about and recognize the issues are very much the same group of people. In terms of how we are to reach out to the people outside of our socialsphere, here’s what we think: the trait we’re born with is a state of which we are blind to ourselves. We need to see through a mirror, or other people’s eyes in order to see ourselves. Yet, if we don’t know our inner selves enough, how are we supposed to learn about our own beauty (the recognition and demand of
beauty)? This lack of self-acquaintance is reflective on our daily lives, society and city. Therefore, in the future we hope to promote more on this kind of experience that enables people to know more about their inner selves.
Q7. Any suggestion for those who want to open a store in Changhua?
Clare: Opening a store is not at all difficult. You’d only need an IKEA and Costco card. What matters is your interest. Follow your interests. Be responsible for your own life and that’s enough.
White Cube’s note:
Listening to the stories of Tu and Clare accumulated from the beginning of their business to five years later now, we would like to say thank you. Thank you for your perseverance in Changhua which brings such distinguished warmth to the city.
04 720 1338 FB:The planet
彰化市中華路260號 No.260, Zhonghua Rd., Changhua City, Changhua County 500, Taiwan