I am currently on charrette in Bryant, Arkansas. As a brief primer, Bryant is located approximatley 15 miles to the southwest of Little Rock and is currently the fastest growing city in the state. This is mostly due to a its proximity to major employment centers and its thriving LEED certified school system. Though I could regurgitate a slew of citizen comments regarding the city's lack of communal space and the recent impoverishiment of its public realm, the picture and brief explantation below says it all.
Photo Courtesy of Matt Lambert
After leaving the charrette studio on Wednesday evening, our team noticed the not yet open Chick-Fil-A was the happening spot in town. Nearly 200 people, young and old, were blasting music in the parking lot with tents, BBQ grills, kiddie pools, frisbees, and footballs. Utterly stunned by the goings on, we later learned that the Chik-Fil-A'ers started showing up at 7am that morning and were in full tailgate mode by noon. Apparently, the hype was caused by a marketing promotion giving the first one hundred people in the new Bryant store free food once a week for a year. Although the promise of free food surely lured these people together, it became apparent upon closer inspection that the food was almost secondary. Rather, the restaurant opening gave the good people of Bryant a reason to come together in a place that was neither home nor work. For 24 hours the Chick-Fil-A was the great third place for Bryant.
Though I could easily launch into a Kunstlerian diatribe here, I think its best to leave this one as is.