Ray Oldenburg introduced the sociological concept of Third Places in his 1989 book The Great Good Place. He describes our home, the place we live, as our First Place. Our school or work environments are our Second Places. Third Places are where we go to relax and socialize in our community. Third Places are like a home away from home, where the mood is light and we repeatedly see people we know. We have no obligation to be there but choose to because we feel welcomed and re-energized, creating a sense of belonging. Typical Third Places include coffee shops or eateries, dog parks, libraries, local pubs, gyms or sporting events, and houses of worship. Where are your Third Places?
The pandemic changed all of our places. The boundaries between our First and Second Places blurred with the advent of distance learning and working from home. Many Third Places either became inaccessible or disappeared altogether. We experienced more isolation and, in some cases, loneliness. It’s important now to reconsider and re-create these Third Places.
In general, we think of ‘third place’ as not-winning, as something lesser. First, second, and third place in the world of horse racing are called: Win, Place, and Show. And show, as in “show up.” Oldenburg’s Third Places are where we show up as our authentic selves and are welcomed by Our People.
As a highly emotional and spiritual person and a channeler, I imagine that an intentional spiritual community would be a good place for me to find My People. I’m interested in something inclusive, creative, and based in personal experiences. I’ve participated in, and even started, several small communities over the years. When these communities faded over time and I expressed disappointment to the Teachers, I was told that it’s important to not become too attached. We don’t want to tie down our spiritual growth by assuming an ego identity in the group. We need to continue growing and evolving.
I find myself weaving in and out of groups that inspire exploration: nature, yoga, meditation. Selling books at the Saturday Market brings me in contact with like-minded people, too, and I always go home feeling more connected. There’s a good chance that’s where I met you!