This last six months have made me think quite a bit about the politics of spaces, and the rhetoric surrounding those spaces. Two “events” in particular. For the queer community in town, there’s our local bar, Chumley’s, which is a great place for meeting people, even if it’s very tiny. Before January, there was one other real location, dance night at Indigo on Sundays. Then, in January, a new bar, Mezzanine, started promoting gay dance nights on Sunday. The politics around this has been interesting: debates about “tradition,” free market competition, exploiting a marginalized yet willing-to-spend market (why Sundays? an excellent question). I won’t go into details about this whole thing. It’s really become quite exhausting in some ways.
But more recently, it was announced that Webster’s, the local bookstore and cafe downtown, would be closing at the end of July because their lease was not being renewed. This is the place where I first felt at home here, where I could go and see people who didn’t fit the PSU standard mold. Also, it was one of the few places in town that provided great vegan food, great coffee, and a wonderful atmosphere. What’s been especially awesome is how community members have been rallying around Webster’s—how in it’s 11 or so years here, it’s become the center of downtown, and community members aren’t letting it go without a fight. My amazing friend Crista has written about Webster’s eloquently on her blog, both about learning it was closing, and about her more recent thoughts on recent developments. (There’s also some links to news sources at the bottom of the second post). I’m truly hoping Webster’s can find a new location, and there certainly seems to be a lot of energy in keeping it going. I’ll try to write more about this later, when I have a bit more energy, but I wanted to get a few thoughts down now.