1. How difficult is it to find open spaces in an urban environment? My student Caleb, who is studying off campus in Chicago this semester, said one thing he misses about Cedar Rapids is how easy it is to get out of the city. Chicago has, thanks to its early planners, a run of public space along the lakefront, but that's often crowded, and how accessible it is depends on where you're starting from. I visited the Skokie Public Library for the first time, and noticed that there are very few tables. Plenty of chairs, many of them plush, but few places on which to set papers. I need to compare the new Cedar Rapids library next time I'm there. That night, Caleb and I had dinner at the Heartland Cafe, which has removed most of the shelves from its "general store." Both of these create more space in the rooms. Maybe this is connected to a widely-felt need for more open space.
(The "general store" room at the Heartland Cafe used to look like this,
but now has fewer shelves... picture from Heartland website)
(Paper consultation at the UMKC Writing Studio, from UMKC website.
Putting green is not visible.)
- local, easily accessible from home, preferably on foot;
- comfortable, where you could drop in by yourself and feel welcome;
- relaxed i.e. you can stay as long as you wish, spending (if it's a business) some but not a huge amount of money; and
- possessing a steady clientele, so that when you drop in you're sure to encounter people you know.
I suppose all of these do apply to virtual encounters, particularly if your computer's in your basement or your bedroom where you can stay as long as you want for free. Yet I think something is missing if you're not encountering humans in the flesh. And unless you find a quote from Oldenburg that proves me wrong, I'm claiming him for my side.