I’m a faculty member at an institution in a small town. Macomb, Illinois, to be exact. Population: 20,000.
One of the points I often hear new residents to the town make is that there is no “culture” in the town. I am often quick to point out that indeed there is culture, there just might not be a lot of arts if that is what is meant by culture (even this though can be debated..see: http://wciarts.org/). Maybe it is really noise that is missing? Which, if it is about noise, that is a whole other thing and I encourage you to sit with it.
Regardless, you might be one of those people that consider the above lack of “culture” a negative about a small town. You might also be able to list other negatives. I, though, happen to believe that all of the negatives of a small town also exist in a big city they are just hidden a bit more. Mostly because I think the negatives are more systemic in our world…more about that at another time.
There are also many positives of small towns, and one of them in Macomb is Cafe Aroma. A tip about small towns is that often local establishments are hard to discover…for example, I didn’t discover Cafe Aroma until my second year in Macomb because each time I drove past it I thought it was either a church or a physical rehabilitation center. One of the two of these I thought had a cafe in it that you could go into and pick up a quick cup of coffee. To be fair, this is the front of the building:
Okay, so lit up at night it looks a bit more like a coffee shop…to be fair, that sign on the left says “Rehabilitation Services” and there used to be a sign to the right that said the name of the church…I promise, it was there.
Boy was I wrong! This is the inside:
Feel free to enter the old adage “Don’t just a book by its cover”.
Upon discovering this gem, I’ve made it a habit to visit it in the evenings when grading or meeting with students to discuss assignments…so much that they know my name, which is quite nice. 🙂
I visit so much that just the other weekend I was asked what I “did at Western” to which I replied that I am a faculty member. The response I received was priceless…
“Really? I thought you were a relationship counselor. There’s no way that you are a faculty member. I always see people come in disgruntled and then they meet with you and are in a better place.”
My response, “Yes, those people are usually students in my classes, but you know what? I think you might be right….faculty really are relationship counselors…relationships are at the core of helping someone learn.”
And so, in true faculty mode, I will use my relationship with you (my reader) to help you learn about a local spot worth visiting if you ever find yourself in Macomb, IL…Cafe Aroma.