I am a lover of coffee shops, especially locally owned coffee shops where creative people gather to connect, to converse and to create community. Most of the time artists and solopreneurs work from their home spaces so having a “third place” helps us to feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. The phrase “third places” was started by sociologist Ray OldenburgRay Oldenburg and refers to places where people spend time other than their home (‘first’ place) and work (‘second’ place). They are associated with being locations where we exchange ideas, have a good time, and build relationships.
I used to be a regular at a coffee shop in Bakersfield called Dagny’s. Even as local other coffee shops started and succeeded, I still favored Dagny’s. I would go there and “hold court” meeting up with people on purpose and by surprise. Friends would bring their friends and the conversation would take tangent turns and I could literally spend hours with changing groups of friends coming and going.
I remember once talking to a brand new friend about the premiere Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring” in 1913. Her eyes got huge, “I have only known dancers who know this story!”
When the pandemic started, I knew I would run the risk of missing the conversations I most loved to have at Dagny’s: intentionally more deep than the average complaints about weather or politics and gripes about the coffee they were out of or the limited bagel supply.
I love deep conversations on specific guided topics.
I started something called “Coffee and Intentional Conversations” in March of 2020 with no end date in mind. We first met for an hour a day six days a week, now we meet twice a week for an hour.
We have a core group of friends who are diverse ethnically, we have different beliefs and live in different places. We don’t talk politics because we don’t want to bring our divisions to the table, we want to bring our connections to the table.
I have often wondered if the group would continue. I considered stopping it several times, thinking it had run its course and yet people continue showing up. I continue kicking our hour off with a “warm up and introduction” question and on Tuesdays we usually have a topic with questions and sometimes we listen to a poem and engage with meaning and stories from that poem. On Saturdays, we most often play games or have free flow, engaging discussion games like two-truths-and-a-lie or “ask me anything” where we ask each other questions we have wanted to know about each other, but never seemed to have the chance to ask.
Basically, we talk about what I would talk about with people in person except we have zoom screens rather than tables and coffee cups.
We have forged deep bonds during a time that is trying at best – and we have had breakthroughs, deep conversations and encouragement that is unique and exceptionally helpful.
What is your favorite experience in coffee shops or “third places”?
Julie JordanScott is a Creative Life Coach, an award-winning storyteller, actor and poet whose photos and mixed media art graces the walls of collectors across the United States. Her writing has appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers List, the Amazon best sellers list and on American Greetings Holiday cards (and other greeting cards). She currently lives in a manse in Sussex, NJ, where she is working on finishing her most recent book project, hugging trees daily and enjoys having random inspirational conversations with strangers.
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