Last week we talked about how ideas need time; that many ideas hit us in the shower because it is often the one time each day when we stop and simply have time to reflect and make connections that turn into ideas.
Another thing ideas need is space. Last week I mentioned that coffee can, and has been, an important part of ideas being born. All you coffee lovers out there are shaking your heads in agreement. Many of us can remember an idea or two that sparked over a cup of coffee.
Coffee actually played an important part in history and played a role in a number of the ideas that changed the world. It took place in Europe during the Middle Ages at the beginning of the time period called “The Enlightenment.” Water in the major cities of Europe was unsafe to drink and dangerous to humans. The choice of drink throughout the day, for those who could afford it, was alcohol. Ultimately this resulted in a lot of people being slightly inebriated, using a drug that was actually a depressant to brain activity. Along came coffee (and tea) through the spice trade. In Europe, coffee quickly replaced alcohol as the drink of choice throughout the day, and coffee houses popped up all over the cities of western Europe.
The key here is not so much the coffee itself (although switching from a depressant to a stimulant meant that a lot more thinking was taking place), but rather the location of the coffee and tea. These coffee houses that popped up became not just a place to get a drink, but also a meeting place where people talked, discussed, debated, even argued about the many different topics of the day. It was in this “space” that many ideas and innovations germinated. It is not an accident that many of the great ideas that came out of the Enlightenment have a coffee house as part of their story.
So what does this mean? Should we have free coffee on campus for our kids to drink? Of course not; however, I do think many of them would like the idea. The key from this historical lesson is the importance of the “space” for ideas to happen. We need to create the space for our kids to talk, discuss, debate, and even argue about the many topics of today, places where students can just hang out and congregate so that organic and natural discussions take place which then lead to ideas and “A-ha!” moments. If you look around our campus, you will see such places. You will also find them in our future campus development plans as we purposefully look to create those spaces for our students and parents.
So if you’re wondering, yes, places like Starbucks and Coffee Bean are great for a meeting or for time to sit, study, and or contemplate. The coffee there might help stimulate your brain a little bit. But more importantly, the “space” at these modern day coffee houses provides a great environment for the birth of ideas, and maybe, just maybe, one of those ideas will change the world.
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to enjoy a cup of coffee!