Community Needs a Physical Place… A Place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

(Photo by Jared Goralnick of John Coston, Nick Whitmoyer, Doris Steere, Me, and Tony Via)

Today,  a few of my friends got together and we ate some tasty dim sum style Chinese cuisine at a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.   We had a fantastic time.   After that, we went to Arlington coffee shop Murky Coffee and just hung out.  It was also fantastic.

This all got me thinking…

It seems like for most of my life the communities I’ve participated in have had some physical location that have gone with them.  With my high school friends, we’d always hang out at this one Mexican restaurant in Lansing, MI.  When I was a freshman in college, one of our friends’ dorm rooms just somehow became the defacto dorm room that we all went to hang out in.  Later in my college years, we all spent our time at the campus coffee shops. Now it’s Murky Coffee.

If you look at popular culture, you will see a similar theme.  I’m currently hooked on the TV show “How I Met Your Mother”.  In the show, the cast spends all their time at the bar MacLarens.   The TV show Frasier had “Cafe Nervosa.”  The TV show Cheers was completely based around the idea of friends getting together at a bar.

In a place like Washington DC, achieving community is tough.   Everyone is super ambitious and super busy.  People live in geographically spread out areas.  Yet, if you want to build community, you need that kitchen table time.

You need that time where you’re just sitting around a table and talking.  You need to do it often.  It shouldn’t be something that’s on a schedule. It should be spontaneous. Life doesn’t live itself by the schedule on my iPhone.

This time is what makes your community strong.

Thus far for me, the place has been Murky Coffee.  Sometimes it’s just me and then I’ll do work on my laptop which is just about always with me.  Often, I’ll tweet about being there, some folks will show up, and we have a great time.  Also… I’ve been telling more folks that I hang out there and when I hang out there so I’ve started just running in to people.

Murky has many of the ingredients for a great common spot.  It has lots of seating, great coffee, free wifi,  kind of centrally located, and it’s pretty chill.

So does your community have a place that it gets together? If so, where?

4 thoughts on “Community Needs a Physical Place… A Place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name””

  1. There are so many ways to think of this, ranging from incubator spaces to coworking to just casual coffee house gatherings.

    I don’t know the right balance for our group and if there is such a thing, but it does raise the overarching question of what’s necessary for a community to thrive, and how much of that is physical presence.

    We’ll continue to do the usual evening happy hours and parties, but you’re right it’s not the same as our get together today at Murky. I’ll have to think about this some more… thanks for posting!

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