Howdy, Cloyne President

“Howdy, Cloyne President” is what you see in the top right corner of the screen in WordPress when it’s time to make a new post– and it’s time to make a new post.

Hi. Hello. Back again.

Going to address the elephant in the blog; this spring has sped by. Wow, has time flown. And what a word, flown. F l o w n. Flow-n. Like that a little better.

I have been thinking about time recently, and space, too. Particularly time and space at they relate to place.

This place means a lot to me. At this time last year, it meant nothing to me at all. I hadn’t even applied. So much happens in a year!

When I first arrived at Cal, I was astonished not just by the busyness of the campus or the resume worship but the sidewalks. This is because I come from a tiny southern-fried blip of NorCal, where we have none. You have to drive two towns down for a downtown; where I’m from there are no corner stores because there are no corners. We drive to the Safeway and drive home, mostly. We’re in the woods, mostly. (This is why I LOVE that the electronic welcome on this WordPress is howdy. It feels homey.)  Now I walk on sidewalks all the time. Now I live in the Bay Area. So much has happened in a year.

So, time and space; but how do they relate to place? Time has flown by this past year, especially this semester, and the place where I live is different from my hometown. The intersection of those things is this House. This Coop. Cloyne.

I want to talk about “third places.”  There is an idea, made and made popular by urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, that there are three types of spaces. To quote this PBS article,  “Oldenburg identifies “third places” as the public places on neutral ground where people can gather and interact. In contrast to first places (home) and second places (work), third places allow people to put aside their concerns and simply enjoy the company and conversation around them. Third places “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.” Oldenburg explains that beer gardens, main streets, pubs, cafés, coffeehouses, post offices, and other third places are the heart of a community’s social vitality. Providing the foundation for a functioning democracy, these spaces promote social equity by leveling the status of guests, providing a setting for grassroots politics, creating habits of public association, and offering psychological support to individuals and communities.

I think the beauty of Cloyne, for me, is that we occupy the space of being all three spaces at once. 

We are home–for us Clones, we sleep, eat, commune, shower, sing, cry, laugh until we cry, salsa dance here. We argue and tease and negotiate and self govern. We are an entity of community, and that community is a relationship that makes this house a home. Maybe it’s my Dutch grandma whispering in my ear, but I try and find the hygge in everything–and it’s easy to find it here.

We are work–our theme IS academia. We are all required to be full time students. We have study rooms, and obligations, and it feels like we are working too much at any given time. Here we are, expected to do workshift after school from 9-6:30. We are at work because we make things, we work at things. We problem solve, we innovate, we hack. It’s part of our description on this Weblog that we create. But this takes work, and so here we are with quiet hours, and study rooms.

But we are also something extra.

I can’t tell you how many times I have come down to the kitchen to get water and Matthew Verish has just pulled out the first tray of warm peanut butter cookies, forked so they look like dabloons, oily and gooey and perfect. And even before he sends out the email, maybe it is the smell, but so many of us seem pulled together into the pre-kitchen by something shared. We all value the same things. I swear, open a bakery, goddamn it.

We all came to this house for different reasons. And those reasons are important. But more than anything I am just so glad we’re all here. That we are all together, in this house, the actual togetherness feels like a third place some days. Third places, Oldenburg argues, are “what suburbia cries for…[they are] the means for people to gather easily, inexpensively, regularly, and pleasurably — a ‘place on the corner,’ real life alternatives to television, easy escapes from the cabin fever of marriage and family life that do not necessitate getting into an automobile.” This is the Coop system, but so much it feels is this house. We are on the corner, after all.

I don’t know exactly why I’m writing this, but April is such a whirlwind month. We have our big Academic Event. We have Elections. We have finals coming up. We have the last two Councils. Special Dinner (more on that later!) is right around the corner, as is summer.  I think contextualizing the experiences I am going through, the gratitude I am feeling to BE in this time and space, this place, with y’all, my crew, my friends, my family, is helping me prepare for a summer away from here, in a time where a lot of Clones, as they always do in the spring, graduate and leave. So actually I know exactly why I’m posting this. And it’s because I am so happy, and I learned a new thing, and I hope you like it too.

Thanks for checking us out, or being part of the journey here. I knowwwww it’s cheesy to end with a quote but I really like you all, so let’s be honest here. I love cheese.

“We’re all just walking each other home” — Ram Dass


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