Conversation is unique to each of us. How much we reveal. How much we conceal.
What about conversation with people we are just meeting…When is it acceptable to say more than hello to a stranger? To what extent is it okay to engage in authentic conversation?
The lost art of communication is an ever growing concern. Social media and screen time shape a large portion of the social (dis)connect. Zoned out and tapped into our electronics, these days it seems we are at the mercy of technology, ruled by its magnetism and promise of constant “connection.”
Think for a moment: imagine yourself in different public spaces. Are you open to real human connection? Do you ever look up from your computer? Or remove your headphones? Or put down your phone?
Enter BIRCH COFFEE
I sat down with Birch Coffee owner Jeremy Lyman to discuss what he and and his business partner Paul Schlader observed in their NYC coffee shops everyday.
People just come in and they sit down at a table. Put their head in their laptop. And they don’t really communicate with people around them.
But antisocial behavior contradicts the fundamentals Jeremy and Paul envisioned for the Birch brand.
I love coffee. But I almost love more what it stands for. For us, a coffee shop is for how it was created. A social hub. For people to go to for coffee and come in just to talk. And talk business. And talk politics. Talk! And talk whatever they wanted to talk about.
Consider the setting of an old school barber shop. Or the neighborhood pub of years ago. People were typically more open (and looked forward) to conversation with total strangers… IRL!
Though there’s everything right about going to a coffee shop to dive into a book… Or write your next journal page… Crank out a paper… Maybe flesh out the details of your business plan – Birch Coffee strives to engage their customers, encouraging real life, face-to-face, human-to-human interaction.
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And so it was born. The Ignition Initiative.
Jeremy and Paul developed a creative tool to spark conversation. One that caught my eye and my attention as a now regular Birch customer. (PS, the coffee’s great too!)
Grab A Sign – A Table – & MEET SOMEONE NEW
Small signs with challenging and fun quirky ice breakers. Like share the most embarrassing song of your iTunes library (a close friend of mine still laughs that I had Nickelback on a playlist) and What was your first blind date like?
Jeremy expands on the concept.
For me personally, I know that when I put myself in an uncomfortable situation. When I’m most vulnerable. That’s when I learn the most. That’s when I’m able to grow the most. Gain the most experience by doing that. Making myself uncomfortable. And by talking to someone I have no business talking to. Just turning to someone and saying hello. That’s where I make the most connections. That’s how my life has changed as much as it has.
It’s important to foster human connection. It’s truly necessary. Critical.
And by placing a Birch sign on your table, you signal that you are welcoming conversation and anyone who may be interested in conversation with you can now feel invited to start one.
So simple in every way yet so profound given the state of interpersonal affairs we currently find ourselves in.
Real life connection, not virtual isolation, is the root of the purest human experience. Unedited. Unfiltered. Not curated. It can be messy and imperfect and uncomfortable and unpredictable. But it can also be beautiful and inspiring and life changing.
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The art of communication is something I value and love just as much as architecture and design. Fashion and style. And beauty too.
And as with any art, despite technology threatening it, we must preserve it.
Let’s start at our local coffee shop. The UNISEXXXY way.
THE UNISEXXX® BRAND: a label stripped of all labels™
UNISEXXXY: universal beauty fashion design lifestyle
NOTE: This post is not sponsored. All thoughts are unbiased and my own. Photos are property of DIVAlicious.