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Business owner bringing community together through forum series

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

It's an American tradition that seems to be slowly dying off - meeting with friends and neighbors for a cup of coffee to discuss the latest around town.

Now in the middle of the "X" in Springfield's Forest Park, Salvatore Circosta and his team are bringing it back.

"What I try to do is just establish that building that we can all come together, have a cup of coffee, have a canoli and have a good conversation," Circosta said.

Circosta has only owned the business for a short time. But since then he's had big plans for the small bakery in the neighborhood he grew up in.

"When we first established the idea of opening a coffee shop in Springfield, the future goal was to bring the people of Springfield more involved in the political and religious and cultural progress of what we are as a city," he said.

Since then Circosta has teamed up with Elms College student Brendan Reed to make it happen, inviting guests to the coffee shop for a series of talks open to the public.

So far, with successful results.

"The next thing you know we're hosting Penn National and city councilors and state reps and it's really taken on a life of its own," Reed said.

Residents like Ray Caporale fill the shop to join the conversation.

"It allows the people in the immediate area to come in, hear the concerns of the city, voice their opinions if they care to," he said.

While the bakery is in a part of town that has seen its share of crime, the neighborhood is slowly bouncing back.

Circosta gives some of that credit to the people who walk through the doors of his bakery.

"They're willing to see Springfield redevelop, they're willing to see us start a new culture right in the heart of the city of Springfield."

On March 6, Father Jay Mello, vocation director from Fall River, will be the forum speaker to talk about the latest within the Vatican.

That starts at 7 p.m.

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