Lest you get the wrong idea…The Third Place is not my original idea. It was first proffered by Ray Oldenburg around 1989. But even then the concept was old. Oldenburg was simply the first one to successfully identify and promote the idea publicly. The reality of The Third Place has been around for many, many years. It’s as old as the hills, as they say.
So, what is it? What is The Third Place? It is a an environment that has the following characteristics:
It is neutral. No one is obligated to be there and there is no financial tie to the place.
Conversation is a key activity, though not necessarily the only one. The Third Place is a place people come to talk and to listen.
It is accessible and accommodating, easy to be there and get there.
There are plenty of regulars who spend time there, people who serve as hosts or guides to those new to the environment.
The Third Place is low key, relaxed, absent pretense. Everyone can feel comfortable.
The atmosphere is relaxed, the mood is playful.
It is warm, comfortable, and homey. It is a home away from home.
There are dozens of bars and restaurants and coffee houses around the country and, probably, around the world, that have adopted the Third Place concept because it is so appealing. Libraries and community centers, too, have opted to become Third Places. But to me, the Third Place is something bigger, more appealing, longer lasting, and more important. It is a new reality. It is a new beginning for our society. It is a place to begin to plot the future we’ve almost forgotten we need to leave for the next generation. It is the soul we’ve almost forgotten we own.
It may be too big a concept for me to execute. But maybe not.