An ode to a perfect public space in Old San Juan.
This: "It’s a space to sit, calmly, before the day begins. Its promise keeps people arriving with enough time to be a human before morphing into a laborer, even the ones without dogs waking them up." ... love the reminder this space is precious, especially the time to become awake and aware of being a human among other humans, before we sublimate our humanness to efficiency. No coffee shops where I live, just diners and truckstops for retired ranchers, but you make me wish to always have humans in my home to share a first coffee with.
I have spent nearly my entire life in the suburbs where this sort of community experience is lacking. Here, coffee shops are, at best, mere destinations or quick stops for a caffeine fix on the way to other places. I genuinely feel that my next move will be to a community where such experiences are just a short walk away. I just don't know when that will be manifested.
Thanks for this piece - I so appreciate how your posts are geared to community and care. I just finished reading your book - loved it so much I featured it in my substack, The 3 Cs of Belonging: Care, Connection, and Community.
I wish I had a little walk up coffee shop by me. Florida really isn’t delivering. Too many Starbucks locations and local corporate chains.
oh, almost forgot: when does the West Coast tour begin? Right after the holidays, yes? 🙏🏼
a generous and insightful commentary on what a neighborhood coffee shop is/does, and why: ‘a place that brings together the neighborhood’, ‘the role of affordability as scaffolding for that conviviality, and how it changes the tenor of a day to start from such a place’
this brought back so many memories of our life in the Castro, where we could walk one block to the cafe we frequented most every day, and not only have a lovely morning refresh (tea for me, coffee for her, maybe a croissant or crepe if we were going to hang out for hours) but commune with our neighbors and have a nice conversation on just about anything with the owner and friend - you never needed a car in the Castro to get to the grocery, hardware store, cleaners, Mexican chocolate shop, whatever; walking to everything, getting to know all the staff everywhere... it was really wonderful
life in the Gaskill district of North Oakland is not quite the same, harder to walk to things and no cafe around the corner (but just 8 blocks away there is Arizmendi, a worker-owned cooperative with amazing baked goods, and omg: the best vegan pizzas on the planet too!), but our neighbors make it quite special (our fave: the day care house down the block where the kids love to see and pet and get slobbered on by our dogs)
If anyone would ask what I miss the most about living in Sciacca (Sicily), I would have to say it's the bars. In Italian bars, the essence of Italian culture and community is on display. Here drinking coffee is brisk and businesslike, but like all things Italian, it's still done with personal flair, and it's joyfully loud.
Maybe my favorite and most missed part of living in a city or small town with a downtown -- the ritual of being a regular. It's a lot more work out here in semi-rural places but I've found it in other pockets and over longer stretches, like with my beloved cobbler or at the post office, where the same folks are always there to help.