Sure, there's the physical community in which you live. But in the human connection sense, community is the groups and places where we find camaraderie, companionship, and belonging. It's vital to thriving in this big, diverse, crazy world. It's important to our health and well-being, so say the experts.
Some find community online through social media, which has its limits without face to face interaction. Many still find it in their everyday work or school lives. But increasingly, for those of us who work in the "gig" economy or live alone, our local bakeshops, teahouses, and coffee shops are an important place for us, where we can go to be around and with others.
Personally, my life is enriched by connections and friendships I've made at several local spots in northwest Seattle. As an independent contractor, I don't go to a regular office every day; I mostly work at home. Sometimes in the heat of deadlines, I realize I literally haven't left my house in a couple days except to walk out to the mailbox. Cabin fever can set in if I don't get out and connect with people.
Besides the friendships I've made and interesting people I've met, these regular, casual gatherings are ongoing and evolving. Some regulars have been meeting up for years, and some have come and gone. New people join. It's fluid.
|Miro Tea in Ballard|
Here's my half-baked comparison: The 7 a.m. coffee/tea/pastry most mornings at a few rotating spots in Greenwood and Ballard is the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence. Then there's the the comma during the mid-afternoon break at another couple spots in Greenwood.
|Not all of the regulars are human.|
|Preserve & Gather peanut butter chocolate oatmeal bars. Must share!|
So here's to neighborhood coffee shops, cafes, and bakeshops everywhere that provide a place for people to gather. In a big city, they cultivate community and can make you feel like you're in a much smaller town, where you know and recognize people. In small towns, they can be a community gathering place where people meet who might otherwise live in greater isolation.
Maybe it's enough just to go and be greeted with community in a friendly smile.
|Rachel Coyle of Coyle's Bakeshop in Greenwood, Seattle.|
|Kayla Blincow, co-owner of Preserve & Gather. (Apologies to co-owner Tess Smedley who wasn't in when I took this shot.)|
How about you? Where do you find community? Do you have a coffee shop/cafe community? Would love to hear about yours in the comments below.
When You Go
Above are links to most of my standout community spots: Coyle's Bakeshop, Preserve & Gather, and Chocolati in Greenwood in north Seattle, Cafe Besalu and Miro Tea in Ballard, Seattle. I used to regularly go to Zen Dog Teahouse in north Seattle's Crown Hill, but these days Zen Dog isn't serving at the teahouse as much. Give him a call because if you catch him, it can be a fantastic experience sipping fine tea around the table with almost always interesting other customers.