Archive for the ‘third places’ Category

Third Places

February 21, 2007

For competitive individuals, coming in third place just isn’t acceptable. But I am not writing this to talk about the third place in a negative light but probably the most positive light that the third place has been talked about, ever.

What I am talking about is the term “The Third Place” coined by Ray Oldenburg (Oldenburg is an urban sociologist and author of Celebrating the Third Place and The Great Good Place and a contributor to Parallel Utopias: The Quest for Community). There are three places in our lives. The First Place is home. The Second Place is work. I couldn’t define The Third Place in one word and neither could Oldenburg. To quote, he says that Third Places “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.” Third Places become a neutral ground for meeting and provide a no pressure atmosphere.

Third Places are typically thought of as coffee shops. While coffee shops definitely attract a Third Place atmosphere we are not limited to that. Other Third Places could be parks, bars, even sidewalks or hardware stores like Kelly’s in Beaver Falls.

To some frequenters, the Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea Company may already be a Third Place. That is exactly what owners Russell and Bethany Warren desired for their business; they understood the need for a comfortable, relaxed place where you don’t necessarily have to be, but rather choose to be.

The need of association is the main point to draw from this concept. Home is where you live and work, you have to go there but do you have a place that you are compelled to be? Sorry to bust your Geneva bubble, but if you don’t have a third place then you are depriving yourself of the essential necessity of association. If you don’t have one then you’re depriving yourself of the essential necessity of association.

Interested in reading more? Celebrating The Third Place and The Great Good Place can both be found on the bookshelves at BFC&T and the McCartney Library.

–md