People belong together

People belong together. But we need spaces to do that. It used to be that cities were designed to include a central square for commerce or a single place to #gather for worship. Urban planners call these “third places.” Modern cities don’t work like that. And while I’m glad for the diversity, it’s a bummer that these days, gathering with other people requires some sort of engagement with capitalism. Most of the time, we have to buy goods or services to gain access to these gathering spaces. But understanding this helps me make sense of something that’s been bugging me.⁣

Until recently, I would feel guilty if I walked to May Day Cafe for a coffee or a scone. After all, that kind of spending is number 1 on “how to trim your budget” articles everywhere. Plus, I actually take some pride and pleasure in making these things at home. But, the truth is, I am not going for a coffee or a scone. I’m going to see and be seen by other people. Even if the only things I say are “Hi!” and “One jalapeño cheddar scone for here, please” there is something more meaningful being transacted than money. So, if I want coffee, I stay home and make it, but, if I want community, I head out to May Day Cafe.⁣

💛 This is part of my ongoing series called #wordsforMN where I handletter reflections inspired by places I love in Minnesota.⁣

people belong together

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer specializing in mental health and parenting. She has written for popular digital publications, including Everyday Health, Health, The New York Times, Parents, Romper, Verywell Mind, WIRED, and more. Emily is a professional member of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Previously, Emily researched PTSD for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and earned a master's in psychology. You can find the latest from Emily at

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