Reflecting on Over Twenty Years of Trinfo.Café and Ten Seasons of the Community Garden

In October 2000, Trinfo.Café opened as a neighborhood technology hub. Growing out of earlier college initiatives to bridge the increasing digital divide of the 1990s, Trinfo was part of a new vision of the College as an active community partner in an increasingly urban and global world. Today, Trinfo is a place where campus-community connections enrich student learning on a day-to-day basis.

Community members receiving computers from Trinfo in 2001. Trinfo has given out over 2,000 computers to community members since its opening in 2000.

From its opening, Trinfo offered technology services to neighborhood residents, community partners, and small businesses. In addition to access to the space, wifi, and computers, Trinfo has hosted computer literacy workshops for youth and adults, built websites for partners, and has given out over 2,000 computers to community members. In recent years, more than 3,000 people have visited Trinfo annually.

When asked what has stayed the same in his twenty years at Trinfo, Carlos Espinosa, Director of Trinfo and the Office of Community Relations, emphasizes the integral role of students from the beginning. “Trinfo’s ultimate success has always been because of Trinity students. In the early days it was running the facility. Over the last twenty years, Trinity students have become more deeply involved in every aspect of what we do,” says Espinosa.

Former Trinfo student employee Daniel Garcia ‘17 remembers working at Trinfo from summer 2014 to spring 2017. He is now a business analyst at Infosys. “Being at Trinfo gave me the opportunity to really work on my communication skills. As a functional analyst, part of my job is to listen to our client and gather requirements for a project, then be able to relay those needs back to our team. In a way, this is something I practiced while at Trinfo, teaching adults how to use the internet or how to create a new spreadsheet,” writes Garcia.

Carlos Espinosa and Cynthia Mena pose in front of the mural outside of Trinfo in May 2021.

Espinosa recalls how Trinfo’s anniversary is linked with the anniversary of the Learning Corridor. “Gilbane Construction had their headquarters here [at Trinfo] for the two and a half years that they were building the Learning Corridor,” says Espinosa. Trinfo opened in the space as they were finishing building the Learning Corridor. Espinosa has been Director of Trinfo since its opening in 2000, but his connection with the space didn’t start then. Trinfo’s building started off as a Friendly’s restaurant and “I used to come here as a kid – my dad used to bring me here,” Espinosa remembers.

While Trinfo started as a neighborhood technology hub, looking forward, Espinosa hopes to further advance, “Trinfo’s transformation into a broad community space by looking at developing sustainability goals that align with the College and then building curriculum around that.” Trinfo’s curricular emphasis has been on technology for the past twenty years. Now, Espinosa is planning to expand programming to include energy conservation, transportation, and food insecurity.

Ten Seasons of the Community Garden

The Trinfo community garden will welcome growers for its tenth season this year. The garden was started in spring 2012 by a professor and a student group who saw an opportunity to transform unused college land into a community resource. The garden aims to connect Trinity faculty, staff, and students with the surrounding neighborhood.

Students from the Garden Guardians group gathered to work on their plots throughout the spring semester.

An exciting new addition to the gardeners this year are the students from the Garden Guardians of the Multicultural Affairs Council. Alicia Camuy ‘22 coordinated the Garden Guardians group this semester. “The importance of a group like the Garden Guardians is huge in a neighborhood like ours and for students like us. Agriculture and food are big parts of our distinct cultures, and it is truly a joy to learn from each other and community members throughout this gardening process,” says Camuy.

Cynthia Mena, Program Manager at Trinfo, sees the garden as an essential part of moving Trinfo’s new sustainability curriculum forward. “The community garden could help battle food insecurity for both students on campus and for our neighbors through providing free plots for them to grow their own food each year,” writes Mena.

From its start as a technology hub to its present day role as a broad community space, Trinfo and the garden have been places where Trinity and surrounding community connect around shared goals and learning. With the twenty year anniversary of Trinfo and the tenth year of the community garden, Trinfo is looking forward to the expansion of its curriculum and renewed, post-pandemic  links between the campus and community.