Last week, when back in ‘da Burgh, something drew me to Kiva Han Coffee, a memorable 3rd place at the corner of Forbes/Craig. What could it be? It’s more than the strategic location between Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Pittsburgh. How about this grande vision?
Great coffeehouses embody four elements. First is Creation, a relationship more about the earth, stewardship, and accountability than about “products.” Great coffeehouses are places of Calling, where, as Frederick Buechner said, “your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” As individual callings meet, they develop Community, where divisive issues become shared concerns, and through which we find Communion, the celebration of the mystery and majesty of the cosmos in each other and the world. This is the cultural potential of the third place . . . College life presents two parallel tracks: the work your teacher is supposed to make you do, and the things you explore to honour your heart and soul in your own parallel quest. Countless times I’ve heard teachers and students say the most fulfilling parts of the college experience are the extended conversations, the relationships that develop and expand on the assignments. If you’re just taking classes, you’re wasting much of what is most valuable about the college experience. And a great coffeehouse might just be the environment not only to bring your deepest desires and longings to life, but to allow you to do so for others. — Great coffeehouses, great conversations, and the college experience
Now that’s a strong encouragement for coffeehouse conversations! Are you finding significant 3rd places in your current studies/research (or remember some significant ones from your formative past)? If so, please share some places and stories. By-the-way, when visiting Kiva Han Coffee, I had the opportunity to once again chat with a friend who serves on the Carnegie Mellon University Modern Languages Faculty. What did we talk about over hot drinks and pastries? Family and postmodernism. What else?