Millennials and Coffee Shops

IMG_3488.JPGThe prevailing narrative on the millennials’ housing preferences has been that they can’t get enough of big city living (they’re part of the drive for denser development), and they just don’t want to live out in the suburbs. Being on the fence between millennial and gen x, but not an example of the “delayed adulthood” set (we have two kids and a house in the burbs), I’ve been a little suspicious of the main narrative, at least for the simplistic reason that I don’t fit, and if I don’t fit, who else doesn’t? Of course, looking at a whole generation as some group-thinking block has its problems, though it makes for an easier headline, but it might still be useful as a discussion point because even a few percentage points shift in the balance between city preference versus suburban preference can be meaningful. On the whole the effect of millennials living in denser spaces may be there, but I’ve wondered if that’s a result of desire or something else? There seemed to me to be some nuance not making the headlines. This is some of that nuance. In this recent Atlantic article, there are a few studies cited indicating that millennials aren’t looking for long-term life in the city, they just can’t afford to move out because of when they entered the job market (obviously, it’s awful to enter work during a recession) and the high cost of living in the city near their jobs.

The surveys cited suggest that millennials want features of city life–easy access to cool places to hang out, easy access to work–but that doesn’t mean they want to live in a city. This makes sense to me. I’ve never been a true city person, though I loved my time in Providence, RI, but I do like having a few good local places (not in a strip mall) with character that I can go to regularly . That’s part of feeling like part of a community. Independent artsy coffee shops serve that purpose pretty well, and Leesburg, VA, where I live now, has a bunch.

The painting I’ve started above is at one of these coffee shops (Trinity House) in a very old house with what feel like secret rooms. Instead of the normal layout ofone or two big room around the counter, Trinity House uses the whole house as dining space. There’s even a playroom for the kids.

There seems to be a bit of Wyeth potential in this scene, so I’m seeing what I can do with an 8×10 study. I am preparing myself for some larger works, but I am just not ready for the commitment yet. More on that later. For now, thanks for reading.

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