This post should by no means be expected to fully explore the title. Coffee Shops are integral parts of cultures great and small, and have played parts in shaping their histories over centuries.... Seriously! Come by the shop sometime and I'll tell you about the "coincidental" correlation between human cultural advancement and coffee's spread out of Africa! :)
This is much more of a contemporary anecdote - one particularly pertinent to the upcoming federal election in Canada.
My contention is that Coffee Shops matter because as far as businesses go they are uniquely suited to community building. They are places where it is entirely possible that you'll run into hundreds of people who either live or work within a few blocks over the course of any given day. That in itself isn't particularly unique - the grocery store, the deli counter, the pub, the community centre can deliver similar conditions. Coffee Shops offer the opportunity to stand or sit next to for a brief or extended period any or all of these people in an environment that is often host to a variety of conversation topics. Granted, not all Coffee Shops seek to encourage engagement, but I'd argue good ones do. ;)
Why this matters in the face of an election is not because it gives any one party or candidate an opportunity to engage with constituents, but it gives the constituents the opportunity to share with their neighbours what matters to them. It gives them the opportunity to engage their neighbours and say they should give a crap about who's running the country - after all, voting is the simplest way to show politicians that you care, and that you're paying attention to what they're doing to you and your neighbours.
Whoever you're voting for this October 19, be bloody sure to get out and vote. Bring a friend. Bring 5 friends! Make a party of it! The only way we get a representative government is if we buy into the system such that we actually have a say in how it plays out.
Thanks for your time, and I hope to see you at the box soon!
Kalen Harris is the owner, blender, lead Barista and senior Loud-Mouth at Shatterbox Coffee in Victoria, BC.