On the TV show “The Simpsons,” Homer meets his buddies at Moe’s Tavern. In “Friends,” the gathering spot is Central Perk. Before that, Sam Malone’s bar, “Cheers,” was “where everybody knows your name.”
Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the term “the third place” to describe informal gathering places outside of home, the first place, and work, the second place. Oldenburg emphasizes that these “great, good places” are essential to both local democracy and a community’s vitality.
For many residents of Vancouver’s west side — the Lincoln, Shumway, Carter Park, Hough and Northwest neighborhoods — their “third place” is Latte Da Coffee House and Wine Bar in the Lincoln neighborhood.
The coffee house, which will celebrate its first anniversary in late June, has reached out to the surrounding neighborhoods.
At recent carnivals at Lincoln and Franklin elementary schools, Latte Da owner Scott Flury set up a coffee cart and donated a percentage of the profit to the schools.
Flury features the work of local artists on the walls. Currently displayed are photographs shot by Vancouver School of Arts and Academics student Addison Lufkin-Collier during her trip to Haiti in April.
In December, he served eight gallons of hot chocolate with marshmallows to a group of 50 neighbors who went Christmas carolling.
In June, he will help neighborhood families celebrate the end of the school year with s’mores around the gas fire pit on the patio.
And when the Lincoln Neighborhood Association recently received a Watershed Alliance grant for a community bulletin board/kiosk, Flury donated the space for the large board, which recently was installed in the coffee shop’s front yard.
Jenny Brown, chair of the Lincoln Neighborhood Association, said, “Scott is always there for us. Offering space for the community bulletin board was key. It’s a neighborhood focal point.”
Neighborhood association newsletters are posted there, along with fliers for garage sales and lost dogs.
Last week, neighbors in the Lincoln neighborhood gathered to paint designs on donated tiles. The tiles will be fired at Earth, Glaze and Fire in Uptown Village and installed to frame the board.
Flury, who has lived in the Lincoln neighborhood for 12 years, said, “I knew the community needed a gathering place.”
Although there are coffee shops some 14 or more blocks south in Uptown Village, the Lincoln neighborhood didn’t have a place to gather.
“I love coffee and wine, and I wanted to create a space where people can gather,” Flury said.
Flury had no experience running a coffee shop, but he wanted his customers to feel at home. When he first saw the century-old house with spaces for small groups to gather, he knew he could transform it.
Dave Kammeyer, president of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, said they hold monthly breakfast meetings at Latte Da. “It’s an effort to get more informal engagement, input and neighbor participation in neighborhood activities.”
The Lincoln Neighborhood Association’s executive board holds its quarterly meetings there.
Latte Da also draws neighborhood book clubs, three knitting groups and a “Mommy and Me” group. Neighbors come for early-morning coffee, lunch, a light dinner or a glass of wine while enjoying live music.
Anne McEnerny-Ogle, chairwoman of the Shumway Neighborhood Association, is part of a group that meets there every Wednesday morning for coffee. They represent several westside neighborhoods — Lincoln, Hough and Shumway — and sometimes, residents of the Carter Park and the Northwest neighborhoods join them.
Eileen Higby from Lincoln welcomes neighborhood newcomers with a coupon to Latte Da.
“Latte Da serves as our local pub,” McEnergy-Ogle said. “At that hour of the morning, we’re drinking coffee, not beer, but it serves the same purpose as a community gathering place.”
Lisa Ghormley, also of Shumway, said, “We go over the issues of the day. We try to make a difference.”
Flury estimated that 65 percent of his customers walk or bike to the shop.
Brown, of the Lincoln association, said, “It’s great to be able to gather with friends at an evening event, have a glass of wine by the fire pit and then walk home.”
“The neighborhood customers are very supportive,” Flury said. “They are the reason we are still open.”
“Latte Da provides a place for neighbors to meet face to face,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “When you’re discussing issues over a cup of coffee, you’re connecting in a way you can’t on a computer.”
Susan Parrish: 360-735-4530; http://www.twitter.com/