How do we create poetry in the land of Arby’s, McDonald’s, and Dairy Queen?
These corporations are detached from the communities they profit from. Ownership is not the neighbor who cut your lawn the summer your wife was sick.
Detachment: the state of America. Can we get a cafe grant? Federal funding to subsidize locally owned cafes, created in the spirit of the community with town-favorite brunches? After Little League games, let’s meet at the cafes – not the Dairy Queen as I did, where the recipe was created in a lab somewhere with no vein connected to us.
In my Indiana home town, there’s a small cafe that’s a Chinese restaurant by evening. It’s what I mean by serving in the spirit of the community. There’s no almond milk lattes with modern industrial style decor here. It’s got crispy fried potatoes, hot coffee, and framed Chinese artwork hanging above plastic leather booths. The genius part of the place is these long wooden tables that seat multiple parties. You want to eat here? More than half the time the only available seat is right up next to another family.
The last time I was in town, I went with my parents and we sat down next to my Mom’s former co worker that she taught with at a nearby high school almost 20 years ago. Her and her husband exchanged stories with my parents about retired life and decluttering their houses.
That kind of social connection, along with good prices, is why that place is packed, always. It’s not a fancy brunch menu (not an avocado in sight) or award winning interior design. It’s how the tables are arranged – that’s it. After all, there’s no way around it – if you want this bacon, you’ll be sitting elbow-bumping distance next to someone you didn’t come with – may as well chat.
Now my question is: on a federal level, how can we arrange the tables to facilitate connection? It’s multi-layered, I know, but it’s got to be the end goal as opposed to simply increasing our material wealth and calling it a day.