MeaningPlace Perspectives 

Day 5 Week 1 Q1  Thursday, January 5, 2023

Where do we go to have or create meaning? Is this a physical place or an internal psychological place? Or is it both? Right now, people are accustomed to speaking of meeting places where they go to hang out with others, and these can be in person or virtually. The same can be said to be true of a marketplace; it too can be physically in person or virtual.

From a creative outlier perspective, I am more concerned with creating than consuming, so the marketplace usually becomes of greater interest when I have something to sell or present there. There are also marketplaces where I like to hang out. For example, bookstores make me feel good as they reinforce my identity as a book person, although going to a library may produce a similar identity reinforcement. 

Meeting places also can have some sort of identity reinforcement value. For example, I can go hang out in a cafe where like minded people tend to gravitate. I am more concerned with the notion of a MeaningPlace than a marketplace or a meeting place, for given a choice, I would instead be creating or experiencing meaning in my life as opposed to the more frequent networking that occurs at meeting places or buying and selling that goes on in marketplaces. 

Of course, there is always the possibility of all three of these being in the same place, which can be very exciting. For example, performing a concert of music I have composed creates meaning for me, as well as being a meeting place to meet up with old and new friends, and is simultaneously a marketplace.  

A MeaningPlace is a place where a person can create meaning, either alone or with others. Public places which support meaning, often through community, include schools, libraries, museums, parks, beaches and other venues supporting nature and/or culture. Another set of public places that can support meaning is small local retail establishments, where proprietors recognize, acknowledge and serve customers. Additionally, there are many retail places where customers create meaning simply by being there. Places like bookstores, food establishments, and nurseries provide nurture through knowledge, meals, and plants. Main Street in a small town or city has historically been a terrific MeaningPlace for people who have lived there for a while.

However, Main Street America is in crisis. Small privately owned stores, many of which are experiencing increased overhead in many dimensions, are particularly hurt by the new forms of virtual competition having the effect of driving down their margin at the same their costs are going up. The net impact of globalization and large entity domestic retail competition is reducing the sustainability of small local businesses.

SVII has been addressing Main Street’s decreasing as MeaningPlace since 2011 by working with small business owners to help them understand how to monetize their ability to monetize, providing MeaningPlace to their customers.