Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Coffee, Conversation, and Community

I read in the news that Howard’s of twenty-two businesses were affected by the gas explosion in Columbia on Sunday. I’ve seen several laments about the loss of Riverside Coffee. While I’ve been there several times over the years, it’s never become my “go-to” coffee hang out. But it’s clear that it was a a special place for many in our community.

Losing Riverside brings to mind other beloved coffee places that are no more: Anna’s Coffee Roastery, Bean Hollow. Are there more I’m not recalling? What happens when you lose the space that has become your “third space”?

Straight out of Wikipedia:

In community building, the third place is the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home ("first place") and the workplace ("second place"). Examples of third places would be environments such as churches, cafes, clubs, public libraries, or parks. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

Where is your third space? Do you have one? For a while Wegman’s in Columbia offered a place where folks could gather for meetings and discussions, but, alas, that is no more. Roggenart appears to be winning the hearts of many, especially those saddened by the loss of Anna’s. 

It’s interesting to note that the Wikipedia entry lists public libraries as examples of third spaces. Our own library system offers a variety of options for people who want to get together. Coming up September 21st is the return of their popular event The Longest Table. Go here for more information.

I’m interested in hearing your stories of Riverside Coffee and anything you have to share on local coffee shops and third places. Do we have enough? Do we need more? Does the success of national chains make it too difficult for mom and pop places to survive and thrive?

Let me know

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