What’s Your Third Place?

A friend recently mentioned the idea of how the concept of a “third place” is fading away. I wasn’t familiar with the concept, and he explained it as a place other than work and home where you regularly go and sometimes end up interacting with people who are outside of your work/home social circle.

The reason it seems to be fading away is some combination of the pandemic, the increase in working from home, and how easy it is to connect with people on the internet.

It got me thinking about the third place in my life. In my 20s, the closest equivalent to such a place was the pickup soccer field. I didn’t really hang out there socially, but there were some brief interactions there that extended beyond the sport.

In my 30s, it was much more about tabletop gaming, and I met quite a few people there whom I probably wouldn’t otherwise have met. That continues to be the case today, with the added boost of our ever-growing disc golf group.

For both of those examples, it isn’t about a specific, unchanging place. Not that it has to be, but I think for some people it’s literally the same gym or bar or bowling alley or book store. And I think that’s great.

In a small, somewhat truncated way, for me that place might be the farmer’s market. Even though it’s transactional, I really love the feeling of walking through the market and chatting with the vendors if no one else is in line. It’s a type of interaction that I hardly ever do, but for some reason it feels organic and natural at the market.

Do you have a third place? Or did you have one in the past?

8 thoughts on “What’s Your Third Place?”

  1. Philz coffee shop! I remember a Tennessee man who wore alligator shoes, a homeless woman who I let use my laptop so she could check her email, and random other people. Whenever I walk past a coffee shop I miss pre-covid days. These days I’m too paranoid to hang out in a shop. Less than 20% of Americans received the updated booster. And that’s all fine with others personal decisions but I ain’t getting no long covid. No thanks. My cousin got long covid and I don’t want that happening to me and I have elderly family.

    Besides, I have premium coffee at home and lavender syrup. One bag of coffee is the price of 2 cups of coffee!

    Reply
    • Coffee shops! I can see how they would have been the third place for many people and how the pandemic would completely change that.

      Reply
  2. My favorite has always been a (used) bookstore. Bonus points for one that has an in-house coffee bar. I can browse books all day, and love the atmosphere of people hanging out, reading, and sipping coffee. Even better is to take a small board game to them. It saddens me that these places are harder to find these days. We had a local used bookstore that was perfect and charming and they went out of business recently 🙁

    This reminded me of Simon Sinek talking about the break down of these “third place” social institutions and how that has led to people expecting more from their place of work – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUYUQxfUSNo.

    Side note: He talks about how the newer generations have more trouble dealing with stress and confrontation. That seems to correlate with the direction modern board game design has gone as well. (No judgement here, as my gaming tastes are eclectic, but an interesting observation.)

    Reply
  3. Every Friday from 1:30pm to 10:30pm my Canberra (Australia) gaming group meet in the basement Community Room of the Woden Southern Cross Club. As the Club’s restaurant is conveniently upstairs we have a 45-minute dinner break at 6:00pm and a 15-minute dessert break at 8:30pm.

    Popular games played include:

    Wingspan
    Dune: Imperium
    Concordia Venus
    Terraforming Mars

    Reply
  4. Jamey,

    I remember hearing this term nearly twenty years ago with the ubiquity of Starbucks across the country. 18 months ago, when we opened our café, that’s exactly what we wanted to provide a community in need. We were heartened and humbled to hear that while the community of Darley Green wanted a café or coffee shop (and had wanted one for several years), they patently turned-down a proposal by Starbucks as they didn’t want yet-another-brand-name -establishment and they were willing to wait for a independent to take control of the corner property. To this day, it serves as that “third place” for countless neighbors and even for myself as I host a Game Night once a month and enjoy every moment I spend there.,

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Reply

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