Forward into the past Part 1 – Visiting and the art of conversation

By Kelley Skumautz

I am a corner shopkeeper in Camden. Since opening the doors in September people are finding their way in by word of mouth, noticing the sandwich board out front, or searching “coffee shop near me.” No matter how people get here, they find a welcoming hang-out place great for catching up with friends, getting work done, meeting with associates, or kicking back with a book. Serendripity Spot (33rd and Lyndale) is a creative third space and we hope to meet more neighbors and passers-through as we establish a nook in the McKinley community.

Someone who dropped in early on is Dan from the Camden News Board of Directors. We talked about talking, and during our conversation we were reminded of how people used to “go visiting.” It was a pastime of the way-olden days (think farmsteads or horse-and-buggy) when folks went “somewhere to spend time with someone, such as a friend or relative.” Today, thanks to cars and computer technology, we are kept bubbled, buffered and too virtually connected. A downside to this is that it’s easier not to notice how things are with others. We are losing compassion, empathy and understanding, and instead we are intolerant and engage in trash-talk or worse.

We need to realize we are in this together and counter our separateness with intentional hang-outs and gab sessions. We need to humanize our interactions and find occasions to bump into one another to ask “what’s new?” and then stick around to hear the answer. We grow and learn about ourselves when we listen to others, and we may be able to share or help in some way too.

Just for today, how would it be to go visiting? That might mean crossing the street to greet someone you see every day waiting for the bus. Or it might mean calling on a friend or neighbor you have not seen for a while. Or what about knocking on the door of the people who just moved in? While none of this is new, it seems we need it now more than ever. With the stress and divisiveness all around combined with being hidden behind screen technology, we must be proactive in meeting and greeting or it will not happen with the quantity and quality needed to heal our aching world.

Everyone is welcome at Serendripity Spot and there is no purchase necessary to come in and share space. We have a free library, no-cost Wi-Fi, games and special playing sessions, community news and information, and more. Our forward-into-the-past way is not a tribute to days gone by but rather a modern alternative to haste and waste. We are willing and able to slow down, stay small, and avoid the fast-paced, grab-and-go activity that runs much of our lives. We can also offer a respite from this to you. If you want to jump off, have coffee, and be people together, come on over – here is definitely a place for you.