The Extinction of Laundromats
Regardless of where you live in the world, every community has some semblance of a gathering place. Sometimes called "neighborhood watering holes" these spaces are natural or man-made spaces where people come into the same geographic location for any number of reasons.
They can be wells, coffee shops, churches, community centers, malls, or schools.
Spaces where people come together and interact with others. It is in these spaces that friendships are forged, community is formed, and cultures are intersected. In these spaces we are given the opportunity to interact and connect with people we might not otherwise meet.
And that's healthy.
We become better people because of our interactions with others - especially those who are different than us. Building relationships with others who have different backgrounds, cultures, and worldviews is a healthy habit for growing as a person.
And one of the common "watering holes" in urban centers has long been laundromats. And, as this article from CityLab points out, these community gathering places are quickly disappearing throughout the United States. Due to a lack of profitability, from rising maintenance costs and a decrease in demand because of gentrification, laundromats are evaporating and are being replaced with more profitable ventures.
And I fear what result such changes will have on our communities in urban areas. Will this further displace those in poverty? What alternatives for clean clothing remain for those without the resources to own their own washer and dryer? And where will people come together to build community?
Laundromats have provided not only the availability to clean clothing but also the space for people from varying phases of life (from broke college students and large families to individuals faced with homelessness and local renters) to spend time in close proximity with each other.
And I think places like laundromats are important.
Unstructured spaces where people can intersect with others - I believe that it is hard to build community lacking such spaces in neighborhoods and cities.
So, what do you think?
Will the decline in laundromats impact our communities? Are there other types of "watering holes" replacing laundromats in our urban center?
Comment below with your thoughts.