I have come across the concept of Third Place recently. It was in reference to the popularity of coffee shops as they represent a third place for us to gather. First are our homes, second are our places of work and the third is other places we like to congregate. The website Psychology Today refers to Third places as happy places. The book The Great Good Place, by Ray Oldenburg is all about the idea of third place. It says there are commonalities with these spots. A Third Place is neutral. People can come and go as they please without penalty. Another attribute is they are level, status differences are not relevant. They are accessible with long hours and easy to get to. Regulars are a critical component. The premises are physically plain and unpretentious. The dominant mood is playful and laughter abounds. Does that not sound like a great place to be? The article states “They contribute to the life worth living, they restore us, they support us. The bottom line is they allow us to be us.” A news clip on tv was referencing public libraries as also being popular spots for people to make “real” connections. In the age of so much techie connections it is important. Communities are a better place when they have a Third Place. For us in the ag community, (with no bias) I think the Exhibition Grounds is such a place. Many of the coffee shops in town also fit the bill. Certainly, The Root Community Emporium also does. With kids in activities, the location of the activity is likely to be a Third Place, be it a court, a rink or a field. Do you have a Third Place?
“The character of a third place is determined most of all by its regular clientele and is marked by a playful mood, which contrasts with people’s more serious involvement in other spheres. Though a radically different kind of setting for a home, the third place is remarkably similar to a good home in the psychological comfort and support that it extends…They are the heart of a community’s social vitality, the grassroots of democracy, but sadly, they constitute a diminishing aspect of the American social landscape.” Ray Oldenburg