It’s been a long time since my last post. Sick, exhausted, lazy and stressed describe the last few weeks, but now I’m back and running. Actually, since I still haven’t quit smoking running isn’t in my immediate future, but I’m back and driving. Currently I’m burning a path out to Tennessee for a summer on the family’s organic vegetable farm in Sweetwater. Right now I’m based in small-town Montana, a place called Kalispell living the rural mountain life for a few days and exploring the skullcap of our nation.
I’ve started to learn after a few cross-country pulls that making any assumptions about a town that you haven’t visited is probably a bad idea. In small-town, Tennessee we encountered gangster rap and got made fun of for wearing straw hats. In Coeur d’Alene, hidden on one of the many modern looking side streets, I encountered an independent coffee roasting company named “Calypso.” The shop had surprised me. The walls were covered with abstract paintings and the dimmed lights hanging from the gutted out warehouse style ceiling illuminated a room riddled with influence from the more western coffee mecca’s of Portland and Seattle.
I remember on a trip out to Tennessee last year as a couple of friends and me drove on Interstate 40, after crossing the Sierra Nevada’s, we couldn’t find anything without a Starbucks stamp on the side until the Smokies. America is changing. Where coffee used to be a bitter grog brewed out of a Folgers can and drunk for effect not flavor, small town coffee shops and roasters are popping up all over the nation. The morning blend is now a staple everywhere but the vacuum can’s are showing their age and with some luck these behemoths will rust away with their creators, the coffee conglomerate.
After stocking up on freshly roasted coffee in Coeur d’Alene, I blitzed through the rest of Idaho before grabbing lunch in the back of my Impreza alongside one of Montana’s many swollen rivers. A few hours later I was in Kalispell. This morning the exploring started again. My Kalispell guide, Sadie, is a friend that moved out to this area a few months ago from Portland and had discovered a good coffee shop within walking distance.
Two local owned coffee shops in two towns I expected to be podunk have forced a lesson upon me, America can’t be described by old-time folklore or decaying stereotypes. This country is dynamic and trends are constantly effecting the way our communities evolve or fall apart.
Locally owned shops are important to both me and to the overall concept of sustainability. Shopping local isn’t just about supporting the face you see, it also has greater implications. The revenue gained by taxing business’ based in your community goes back into your community, instead of supporting the suffering businessmen of the Channel Islands. Plus having a human employers that doesn’t base their hiree’s future’s on an immovable points system, or impractical decisions made by “corporate” is a nice benefit.
This week’s step will be to eliminate drinking coffee from large chain stores( Starbucks, Tully’s, Seattle’s Best, Dutch Bro’s).This seems like a weak step from the viewpoint of someone who’s never left the Northwest, but out east the game does change.