Marino Café and the Importance of Special Spaces

If somehow you find yourself having escaped the Reed bubble, wandering about like a little lamb in the vast, unfathomable void of suburban Portland, you just might have seen it: an unassuming late-night café on Division street known as Marino Adriatic Café. I love this place so much. Striking murals paint the walls, and all around are interesting trinkets and photographs. The baristas, thoughtful and sedulous, make both excellent coffee and genuine conversation. Every blue moon, Marino procures spartak cake that is so delectable and flavorful it hurts my brain. I remember when I first stumbled upon Marino café as a first year in the spring of 2019. It became for me not a place to go to study, but to escape and wander in my own thoughts. Despite a nearly 2-year hiatus, it is the same to me. Soon, I am leaving, and I want other Reedies to know about this space. It has been good to me, and maybe it will be good to you, too.

Reed, although it is a truly special place, is rarely accused of being considerably insulating and lonely. Longstanding structural problems in student engagement and mental health have been dismissed by administration and unaddressed by Reed’s busy, tired student body. This is all well-documented; just read the succinct 2018 Keeling and Associates report on Reed College or the Quest’s past journalism on the topic. After two years sequestered in a pandemic infused with considerable socio-political stress, the Student Senate might consider doing the following: setting up a Senate task force with transparent S.M.A.R.T. goals (i.e. concrete, practical goals with assigned dates for completion) to streamline wayfinding for student engagement; to create a new Senate website (the old HTML/CSS site, under maintenance for years, has been offline for a little over a year now); to minimize the time and effort it takes for overworked students to plan fun events; to make it easier to get individual, non-club-affiliated funding; to revamp, refurbish, and promote student spaces such as the Student Union where students can meet and hang out; and to reinforce positive Reed student engagement norms. I guess I won’t be here to see any of it if it happens. While the Paradox and Library remain good spaces on campus for grinding away at studying, it seems important—perhaps urgent—to have a space to pause, contemplate, and take a small breath before trudging back into the academic abyss.

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1 year ago

(Whoops! Small edit to 2nd paragraph: Reed is rarely accused of not being insulating and lonely to a considerable extent.) —C

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