Welcome to Novack Cafe!


novack 006 edit

students rush the food counter during the busy lunch hour at Novack Cafe. /pc: author

What do you think of when you think of a community? According to author David Fleming in his paper “The Space of Argumentation: Urban Design, Civic Discourse, and the Dream of the Good City,”  a community specifically refers to an area that is capable of encouraging friendly interactions, freedom of speech and respectful argumentation, and these goals are best achieved in a large space such as a city, street, or neighborhood. However, Novack Cafe, a small venue located at the heart of Dartmouth College’s campus, demonstrates that size doesn’t always matter when it comes to building a community. Instead, it promotes various means of conversation, whether verbal or nonverbal, passing or prolonged, through other means. While lacking in size, Novack does include some of Fleming’s other criteria for an ideal community, including publicity, security, density, and heterogeneity. While Novack may not perfectly adhere to Fleming’s definition of an ideal community, the many interactions that take place there each day contribute to a friendlier, safer, and more connected campus. This may indicate that in addition to the larger public city spaces that Fleming mentions as being ideal for encouraging conversation and community, there exist micro-spaces that serve this purpose as well. At these aggregation sites, loose connections, such as those Fleming mentions, can be made and later maintained within the larger community.