My son called the other day and was talking to me about the ‘Third Place’. Intrigued, I had to know more.
He was referring to the three places in our lives. It has to do with our localities. It is a phrase coined by Ray Oldenburg in his influential book, The Great Good Place. Oldenburg says that in the U.S., we do not value the ‘third place’ like most other countries do. I agree with him as it is something I have been longing to have most of my life but never truly gave it the priority it deserved.
As the ‘Third Place’ idea becomes more popular, it’s spilling over into the workplace. Companies have built their interior design around this concept as it promotes a more egalitarian atmosphere and provides a ‘sense of place’. It’s a place where people are free to be themselves and many workplaces are now seeing the value in celebrating and utilizing just that…who people are.
The first two places most prominent in our lives are work and home. Home is where we feel the most comfortable, work helps us feel productive and gives us the money we need to live, and, the third place, is crucial to enjoying a fulfilled life. The third place is where we go for COMMUNITY.
In other countries, their “Third Places” might be a local pub, a familiar restaurant that people meet up at many times a week, soccer or rugby game matches, parks, a local church, or for some…it can even be the family home where Sunday meals and family picnics and gatherings occur at least once a week. These “Third Place” traditions are rooted deep in the culture of those countries.
These “Third Places” are places people go to find the familiar, the like-minded, the acceptance, and the laughter and relaxation that sustains them through the week. It’s where relationships are formed and strengthened for years to come. It’s a place that gives us connections to others, a sense of belonging and acceptance where people celebrate each other and grow.
It’s kind of like Friday night pizza night or Sunday family dinner here in the U.S. It’s a constant, a gift of spending time with each other and a way of adding value to others in an otherwise very busy life.
I am finding a wonderful kind of ‘Third Place’ in our little town and our country home. We now live in a town of 3,500 people. And, from the moment we arrived, people were stopping by to say hi and welcome us. We now attend and host neighborhood game nights, visit with others at the pier and boat ramp, and spend time with neighbors who have become close friends. It’s the “Third Place” i have dreamed of where neighbors stop and say hi while they are out on their nightly walks and where borrowing eggs, sugar, or other things from each other or sharing food we have made is no longer a thing of the past. It’s where we gather together for community events like the one last Saturday night where hayrides and golf carts come down the streets to all the houses decorated for Halloween. It’s where teenagers still love to trick or treat and where politeness and friendliness are still going strong. It’s where people sit around fire pits and look up at the stars in the dark country sky. It’s where the trees are as old as the land and the animals still come out of the wooded areas to make their presence known. It’s where the owl speaks at 3 a.m. and where the deer families come out at dawn and walk across the streets. It’s where the hawks and other raptors grace the sky with their beauty and the flocks of geese fly above our home to the lake. It’s where love is constantly growing. Love of people, love of the beauty around us and love, celebration, and acceptance of the differences in people. It’s a “Third Place” where when we disagree, we talk it out and agree that it’s okay to see things differently. Most of all, Our “Third Place” in our little town, is the place to BE me and that is what makes me feel so fulfilled and happy when I get to BE here.