It's been an overwhelming past couple of weeks. Regardless of who they voted for, people across the country are feeling frustrated, targeted, and often hurt and fearful of how these recent events will change our country.

I'm one of those people. And then one of my professor shared this article.

Research shows that the best way to reduce prejudice and bigotry is to have an open, non-confrontational conversation. In a recent study, activists from the trans community went door to door, having conversations with voters about their experiences as members, regardless of if they identified as trans.

And here's the coolest part: it worked. The study showed that voters' attitudes shifted in favor of pro-trans legislation, and that their changed viewpoints continued three months later. What does this teach us? That calling people racists and misogynists and bigots based on who they voted for is going to get us nowhere, and that conversation is the key to understanding and change.

I know that we're not all ready for conversation — on both sides of the ideological spectrum — but when you are, here are some of my favorite casual, calm spaces in the Boston area. Ask your friend to lunch. Ask someone who's not your friend to lunch. Listen to their opinions respectfully, and make sure they listen to you. Because both grieving and celebrating are hardest when they're done alone, and no one should be alone right now.

1. Dig Inn

beer, tea, wine, coffee, kettle
Nicole Lacasse

Dig Inn is one of my favorite places to eat in Boston. There is tons of natural light, and they have food that's both socially conscious and ethically aware, which might inspire a laid-back conversation about the election. If you want to walk while you talk, wander over to Newbury Street or take a break and escape to the solace of the Boston Public Library right across the street.

2. Tealuxe

Located right on Brattle Street in Harvard Square, Tealuxe is your quintessential cozy, warmly lit tea shop. The atmosphere is thoughtful and calm, which makes it a good place to sit back, sip some tea, and recognize with each other that these weeks have been really difficult, and that it's okay to not be okay.

3. Pho House

When you want something casual like Tealuxe, but with a little more sustenance, head to Pho House on Mass Ave. The ambiance is unassuming, but the food is unreal. Plus, there's something beautifully homey and humbling in slurping a giant bowl of broth and noodles, so it will create a better environment for open conversation.

4. Renee's

While Soundbites definitely holds the monopoly on brunch in Somerville, Tufts students always count on Renee's for a less-crowded, more laid-back option. This takes you back to your favorite childhood diner comfort food and friendly staff included — so you'll feel comfortable and safe when you talk.

5. Trident Booksellers & Cafe

omelette, egg, omelet, spinach
Kaely Gallagher

Trident Booksellers has insane hours (8am to midnight) so it's a flexible and easy place to meet at any time of day. Plus, I think there's something weirdly soothing and inspiring about being surrounded by good books when you're having a serious talk. It gives me a sense of purpose.

6. Algiers Coffee House

Welcome to the hidden gem of Harvard Square. Algiers has been a family favorite since my mom was in college at Tufts, and its old-school international cafe vibes are the perfect mix of exotic and charming. Use their authentic Arabic coffee and baba ganoush to spark a discussion about foreign policy or immigration. The geometric architecture and people watching on Brattle Street will give you a break if you need one.

7. 3 Little Figs

In case you haven't noticed the trend, I have a serious weakness for well-lit, minimalist coffee shops with quality food. When you want to be able to talk openly away from the bustle and familiar faces of Boston area campus life, 3 Little Figs provides the getaway without compromising the ridiculous eats. 

8. Boston Burger Company

bacon, cheese, cheddar
Julia Press

Now, hear me out. There is nothing like stuffing your face with a huge messy burger and decadent frappe (we're talking Black Tap-level) to break the tension between divisive political opinions. It'll be a lot easier to have difficult conversations once everyone's let their guard down. And hey, at least you'll have eaten a killer burger.

9. Tamper Cafe

Just another well-lit minimalist coffee shop with quality food. Tamper is a Tufts institution, and it's easy to see why. If you want a little more bustle while you talk — as opposed to some of the other places on this list — definitely come here during peak hours to be surrounded by Tufts students working and chatting. Use the setting as inspiration to talk about the issues in higher education!

10. Tapéo

Tapéo was one of the first restaurants I discovered on Newbury Street, and it's definitely more fancy than some of the other options on this list. While Tapéo turns into your quintessential tapas bar at night, during the day it's much quieter and better-suited to our purposes. The idea of tapas (small plates) means that you're starting off your meal discussing sharing food; it's an easy jump to sharing opinions and thoughts from there.

#SpoonTip: Ask to sit upstairs by the windows. There's tons of natural light and beautiful decor. 

This isn't easy. Building and maintaining the longest lasting, peaceful democracy in the history of the world shouldn't be easy. But the only way to go on is to go forward, when we feel ready. And it's okay for us all to take our time to feel ready, and to take productive action once we are.