Vail Daily column: The places that matter
May 21, 2014
Living here in Avon, there are certain places that I find myself going over and over again. Kent, owner of Loaded Joe's, refers to this phenomenon as a person's tendency to adopt a "third place."
The home and workplace are typically the first two locations that an individual spends time, and then there is usually a third important place for most people. I have found that my third place is often a trendy and local-dominated restaurant, like Loaded Joe's.
These local restaurants are important for more reasons than simply the service they provide. It is often in these little spots that you can discover the best collaboration, ideas and connections the valley has to offer. It seems to me that the innovators, dreamers, politicians and, yes, even the local commercial lender and business consultant have a tendency to congregate at places like Joe's.
MEETING PLACES THROUGHOUT HISTORY
Restaurants and watering holes like Joe's were not always so readily available. In the 1760s, a new health craze was spreading across Paris: Broth. Apparently, the public grew so incredibly interested in the stuff that new "restorative" locations sprouted up all around the city to serve these restorative foods, which were mostly broth-based. Restaurants (a French word for "restorative") sprung up all over the city at a time when most of the population could not afford to eat in them.
More important than the ability to eat in these restaurants was the ability for middle class folks to get together and talk politics. It was through these gathering places that the French Revolution gathered steam. Some years after the violence settled, a host of fine dining restaurants opened all over Paris, likely enjoying the spoils of aristocratic cellars that had been raided during the conflict.
THE SONS OF LIBERTY SET THE STAGE
Across the ocean, not too many years earlier, a few prominent colonists were meeting in Queen's Head, a popular tavern in the old heart of New York. John Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and other sons of liberty were a group of local young professionals trying to navigate the changing political climate and onerous taxation imposed by the British. John Adams, only in his 30s at the time, organized and executed what would be known as the Boston Tea Party from the location in 1773. Queen's Head, the old tavern, survived the revolution in spite of being struck by a cannonball and is now called Fraunces. It still stands on a corner of Pearl Street in old New York.
Decades later, a group of friends who had met in art class were desperately trying to make ends meet. In the 1860s, a Parisian artist like Pierre, Claude or Edouard should have been able to make a decent living. The Salon of Paris hosted the largest biannual worldwide exhibition of art during its time. Unfortunately, the work of these three young artists was often not displayed prominently. A local critic of the time commented that their work was simply not an accurate representation of the colors of real life.
Not to be deterred, the three friends and rivals began to meet with like-minded cohorts at the Loaded Joe's of the time, a small bohemian watering hole called Cafe Guerbois.
It was here that the early impressionists we know now held meetings twice a week, shared ideas with one and other and fought the restrictive views of the Salon. If not for the Guerbois, we may not have ever heard the names Renoir, Manet, Monet, Degas or Pissarro.
It is with all this in mind that I call to the would-be revolutionaries of our own community. Whatever your views or your profession, I hope to find myself in conversation with you at one of our favorite third places.
Maybe we can give each other feedback about our latest ideas. Perhaps we can discuss our disillusionment with government or society. Whatever the topic, I know that we will have the conversation that matters most: How do we make the change we wish to see?
It is through these numerous conversations in third places, happening all over the world, that people like you and me will change things forever and hopefully for better. Tell you what — I'll buy the first round.
Ben Gochberg is a commercial lender and business finance consultant. He plays, lives, works and is trying to do a little good in Eagle County. He can be reached for business inquiries or free consultation at 970-471-3546.
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