Lately, I’ve been nostalgically thinking about community and my experience early-on.
I grew up in a small town in Illinois and though it was home to a major university, the overall feel was slow-paced and inviting. Coming into town, you see sprawling acres of flat land and you immediately know that agriculture is a mainstay there.
I specifically recall the small business owners in my neighborhood and others I perceived had important roles in the community. It was also a time where my family came together for dinner at the dining room table and there was a great sense of togetherness.
At some point, I moved to California and it took me a little while to mature, so there are some things I didn’t notice it right away. However, I can now understand my brother’s comment when he came to visit.
We were sitting in Mrs. Fields in downtown San Francisco and he said, “everyone looks worried and in a hurry.”
Unfortunately, the harried life scene describes a societal norm.
For me, I clearly enjoy a sense of community. I prefer and frequent places where personal relationships are valued, including in dining out and shopping experiences. I absolutely love personalized, friendly service.
Fortunately, there are still glimpses of hope here and there. The community table dining experience is an interesting one.
My daughter recently did the menu for a fundraiser at Zuni’s in San Francisco; the meal was community style — long tables where you ate with others you didn’t necessarily know. It was a great turn out and the event was an awesome success.
And recently, a friend and I went to a small neighborhood cafe for lunch, but all the tables were taken. We usually go there for breakfast before a morning walk, so this was our first time coming in the afternoon.
Our first thought was to leave and go to a cafe in a neighboring city. However, before we could leave, a lady offered for us to sit at her table until a seat became available. So, we stayed and it turned out to be a nice experience — talking with the lady and ‘catching up like old friends.’
I say let’s not let community and relationships become a dying reality. Let’s help the effort along and begin to permeate our fast-paced, digital culture with real conversation and genuine care
What say you?