Sunday, March 30, 2008

Starbucks Squared

The internet is abuzz with with lively and excellent Starbucks discussions. To second BrandAve's statement:

Seeing as Starbucks has long promoted itself as a "third place" or community living room, it behooves an urbanist to pay attention.

There is lots more here to think about. What I see in the Starbucks dialogue is a microcosm of the larger urbanist debates redirecting private (esp. commercial) development towards glocalized urbanist forms. As the suburb tanks in value and we transition from building malls and square miles of asphalt to building village-doppelganger, transit-fed, pedestrianized "lifestyle centers" (each with their "anchor" Starbucks), the American public is revisitting the important cultural questions that rake its identity in the promotion/exploitation of real-estate valued community capital (or the semblance thereof). The scary thing is, Starbucks may actually be our most authentic cultural icon. We have much to learn about ourselves as we debate the merits and demons of the mermaid.

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