Becoming Legendary Don't drown in the Quo

September 29, 2016

What is it about Starbucks?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 3:26 pm

What is it about Starbucks?

I spend a lot of time in various Starbucks around my city – one in particular and I’ve started to ask why I like it there. It’s not the coffee or the Frappuccinos or any food from their pastry or lunch display. And it’s certainly not because it is cheap. I have spent thousands of dollars in there – sad but it adds up.

So what is it?

Architects of Starbucks are smart. They know how to design exteriors that welcome people in. They know how to design interiors that keep people there. Starbucks architects and builders know how to persuade us psychologically. And there is a sort of community built inside of each one. I made two great friends that I hang out with simply because we saw each other so much at a Starbucks. Maybe that is the best of what they do – they help to bring a version of community to a world of over-individuality. I don’t want a local coffee house and I couldn’t tell you why. I want Starbucks because it attracts me to it. I get sucked in by Starbucks and I want to be there because it feels comfortable and safe. The colors are just right for me and the baristas are usually cool and definitely well-trained. I can count on them to make my drink exactly as I want it, day after day. I even love that they remember my name and welcome me like Norm on the television show, “Cheers.”

With this in mind, I wonder why church architects typically cannot bring the same sort of design to the interiors or exteriors (in most cases) of sacred buildings. I’m not saying that every architect in the world cannot pull off some of Starbucks charm so that people are drawn in and so that people want to be there as much as possible. Why don’t people show up at churches to meet up with their friends? Why aren’t students coming to churches to use free wi-fi to study and hang all day? Why is community built better at a coffee shop than at a church?

As a pastor, I am amazed that a place where God-followers come once or twice a week for an hour or two for some worship and study cannot draw people in. Why are churches so unused? Think about that – most churches are mostly empty for most of the week. Can’t there be better vision cast from a church’s foundational build as to how to draw people into a safe and comfortable place to hang out with friends? Where is the sense of organic community that exists in Starbucks?

I’m not saying that churches have to become Starbucks clones, but there has to be a change of some kind so that church spaces are filled up every day of the week – and not just with schools.

I don’t have the answer to any of this. I know two architectural companies who have a clue how to get this sort of thing done, but there aren’t many others. I hope for a shift in this tendency. Churches are where people need to congregate to live out life.

September 22, 2016

How does a building that holds art become art in itself?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 6:24 pm

How does a building that holds art become art in itself?

My wife and I went to live in Los Angeles in 2002 so we could pursue our creative sides. She was and is a great singer and I am a writer who thought he could press out more excellent literature while surrounded by a new city with the reputation of churning out beautiful things – creative all around us who were chasing a dream. We found out we were just two of the many people who came to Los Angeles to pursue cool ends. My wife found her place singing both back-up and as the front woman for several bands that performed on Sunset Strip. I found my place in bars and coffee shops typing away to create characters who could live out my vision for screenplays and books. We both did our best, but that’s really not the focus of this little article. The focus here is architectural art in the big city and how we found a perfect place to breathe it in weekly.

The Getty Art Museum is just one of those places that houses art – some of the most amazing art is on display inside of its walls. But The Getty is not just a normal building with a few doors and windows. It doesn’t let the art inside be all the beauty you can see. The buildings at The Getty are art in themselves and I found out that this design was done on purpose. It began with architectural renderings and 3D animations so the owner could see into the future of this beautiful place. Then these visionary plans were put into play and out popped a building rooted in beauty. Before any of its paintings were hung on its many walls, this place was art. Even the way you get to the actual Getty (a cool tramway that creates anticipation as you motor up) is lovely and fun.

One of the main reasons that The Getty impresses me and achieves its beauty is its use of outside grounds. As you pass from building to building you get to see plants and flowers and the wide open blue skies spread out above you. It’s in this way that even the setting for an art building is used to make the picture complete.

September 16, 2016

Struggling with house-work

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 4:53 pm

Struggling with house-work

I was sitting at the new Starbucks near my house trying to concentrate on my own work that is ever so important and vital to the world turning on its axis when I noticed a girl sitting at the table next to me. No, this was not like noticing a girl for the sake of flirting because I am way beyond that stage – 21 years of marriage with a lovely girl have tamed my chase. But, I did notice that she was reading a book. I don’t know about you but I am always interested in seeing what the book interests of strangers are – are they reading anarchist materials or cookbooks? So, to satisfy my curiosity, I kept up a furtive glance until I saw what type of literature she was filling her mind with. Turns out she was reading a book called, When things are hard in real estate. Something like that – it probably had a better title than that, but it’s what I’m going to call it because I can. Anyway, from that title and seeing her other papers I gleaned that she must be a real estate agent trying to sell Lubbock homes for sale and homes for sale in Lubbock are, or have been, selling like hotcakes. From what I knew, the market for housing was booming due to the growth of the city, but after seeing this girl taking aggressive notes from the book, I changed my mind a bit.

Maybe the real estate market has ceased being a sellers’ market – maybe there is too much housing being built – maybe the demand is off – too much supply. Simple macroeconomics…Suddenly I felt bad for this stranger and wondered if she was struggling professionally as a realtor. Most of the realtors I know always seem to be closing on a house – smiling and bouncing around like selling houses is as easy as boiling an egg. I also know several people who have left their jobs to become real estate agents in this region. But maybe this is a huge mistake. I have to admit I have considered taking the realtor exam and using my charm and charisma (and humility) to make some serious cash. But if this nice lady sitting next to me was having a hard time selling Lubbock homes, it must mean that it’s not as easy as some people make it out to be. I wondered, “Was it this woman’s particular sales style that was making it hard to sell houses?” “Had she been trained poorly by her specific agency?” (I know that if you work for the top company in town – Coldwell Banker – you get better quality training than at other places – at least in Lubbock.) I wanted to ask her why she was reading the book, but I thought it might be mean to rub her nose in her failure.

I know what it is like to fail at a job and not be able to overcome its innate challenges. I know what it is like to be trying as hard as I can to make money in commission jobs and still not succeed. I wanted to encourage this woman, but who was I other than an empathetic voyeur? I left it alone. I left her alone in her thoughts and troubles and took my coffee outside where there was less sadness in the vicinity.

What a weird journal entry, huh?

I don’t know why this stuck with me so much, but it did so deal with it.

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