My Big Vision of Cafe-Based Creative Communities

Here is my big vision. Every day I meet with my peers and learn that many of them are incredibly smart, creative, and motivated. Almost all of them are trying to launch their own small businesses on their own, and many are frustrated by the fact that they are “only one person.” My friends know that they have all the tools in front of them, and they are discouraged by the sheer amount of work that has to be done in order to make their idea into a minimum viable product. However the passion is there, and it is only hindered by their ability to turn their passion into a continuous stream of income.

Non-believers are everywhere. Some people I talk to tell me that technology is not the answer, that it makes humanity more unhappy. I believe that one of the reasons technology makes us so unhappy is that we now have boundless access to near infinite informational resources, and we simply don’t know what to do with all of the power. We now have no excuses to put off realizing our potential, which brings into focus how much work actually needs to get done.

My peers are some of the busiest people I’ve ever met. Time-management is one of their biggest preoccupations, because they know that they have the potential to “do-it-all”, but they struggle balancing this with natural life rhythms of sleep, eating, and play. Whenever I want to learn more about my friends and their passion projects, the biggest obstacle is finding a common time when the two of us aren’t doing anything. We have filled our days and weeks so full of tasks that the only time we could actually spend time together is while pursuing common goals.

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I believe that what my peers and I need is to get better and building our community. Sure, we are all connected through social media, but we need to spend more time in physical spaces together for quick discussion, analog experience, and breaks for diversions and play. The reason I spend about 20% of my week in cafes is because I like being around people who are also doing productive work. Being alone in my room always feels so depressing and isolated, and the vibrant energy of working in a cafe inspires me to generate more output.

Schools are outdated. Libraries are burdened by mismanagement. My dream for the future is being able to reach out directly to experts as needed, to learn by reading online content that is meaningful and fueled by solid research and passion, without the goo of bureaucracy gumming up the process. I want my friends to be able to have access to a huge network of people that are physically left and right so that when we need help, we can ask for it in real time.

This ends up sounding like I want more co-working spaces, but I don’t like the cost-structure of such environments. Often co-working spaces are expensive, which prevents a lot of my creative peers from spending time in for-rent work environments. Furthermore, co-working spaces lack the vibrant social element of a cafe. Cafes feel free while co-working spaces feel sterile. The future of the modern work environment is a social scene, not a cubicle.

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My big vision is a stronger, real-world social community of people that loan each other their collective resources in order to help their neighbors achieve their goals. My friend J in Portland, Oregon is very good at this. A videographer, he volunteers his skills to help his friends create their content. J helped me film rap music videos, fundraising videos, and short films. In return I was able to lend some of my skills to help him further his own personal film projects. I held microphones for him, wrote scripts, and shared final results. Creatives must spend time nurturing other creatives, and everyone wins.

These kinds of relationships are not governed my money or cost. It boils down to working with people you legitimately enjoy and believe in. My hope is to create more spaces for these kinds of connections to happen, a kind of cafe-based community of talented people who love to make new things, because none of us should have to go at this journey alone.

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One comment

  1. Love this Connor. Over here in the UK I can definitely already see this starting to happen, with lots of cool coffee shops and cafes serving as creative hubs (hosting art shows, spoken word etc).

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