Ecocentricity - September

Foundation Director, John Lanier, has begun his own search for understanding sustainability and how it fits. He may have a long way to go, but he would be honored to have you join him along the way for his musings, recollections, and personal stories.

I haven’t bought the t-shirt yet, but I probably should go ahead and do it.  I mean, I’m here enough.  And a stack of them is right there, 25 feet from where I write this.  They’re snazzy too; gray with yellow script lettering that says “Taproom” above a depiction of the establishment’s iconic feature – the “Beerspresso,” an espresso machine that has been modified into a beer tower featuring 12 amazing craft beers.

Before you ask, the answer is, YES.  Taproom Coffee does serve both coffee and beer, along with tea and wine and charcuterie boards and beer ice cream and a half dozen other things that you wouldn’t notice if I listed them because I just typed “beer ice cream.”

I find great joy and peace in this place.  Here, I have tasted lemon poppy seed muffins that brighten any day and chocolate porters that are the perfect reward to a hard day’s work.  I have relished distinctive aromas from a freshly-brewed cappuccino to the spicy mustard served with a warm, soft pretzel.  I have seen teachers absorbed in crafting their next lesson plans and dogs resting their heads on their owners’ feet as they lazily sip the day away in the warm sunshine.  I have heard the laughter of children as they wriggle free of parents’ hands and baristas cheerfully greeting patrons walking through the door.  I have felt the calming warmth of a mug of green tea and the gentle grasp of my fiancée’s hand as we enjoy the simple pleasure of each other’s company.

One of the keys to a sustainable future is found here.  And it’s next door at Kirkyard, the local sports bar.  I find it in Savor too, the wine shop a stone’s throw away.  And if I had to bet, you’ll find it in the small business that’s within walking distance of your own home as well.  In short, we live more sustainably when we live more locally.

I didn’t understand this truth before.  I have read often in the news about the importance of small businesses to the economy, and I have muttered “that’s a shame” when I see a chain restaurant replace a family-owned joint.  But now I really get what Taproom Coffee and the many other places like it (but none quite as good) represent.

They are the fabric of our communities.  They are the places that help us know the names of our neighbors, to whom we might loan our lawnmower so that they don’t have to go buy one.  They are the destinations to which we enjoy walking, keeping our cars parked at home (or even better, parked at the dealership, unpurchased).  They are a part of our homes, because in them, we realize that home can be so much more than a space between four walls.

My home keeps getting bigger and bigger.  That thought makes me smile.