Home and work are the two most important places in the lives of many people. But some communities have a third place — a public space away from home and work where people can congregate and socialize.
In his book The Great Good Place, sociologist Ray Oldenburg identifies a third place as a spot where people of different races and economic backgrounds feel equally comfortable. Regulars feel at home there, and newcomers feel welcome. The atmosphere is playful and warm. Conversation flows freely. Old friendships are nourished, and new ones are made. Third places can be taverns or coffee shops, diners or gas station or some other utilitarian spot.
One such third place is the Ruth Raftery Peyton Dog Park in Charleston’s East End. Open barely a year, the dog park has succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. The park pulls dogs and their human companions from all over town and offers East Enders an agreeable resting spot that is neither as private as home nor as formal as work.
Friends from the park schedule dinner parties together, belong to a chat room and look after neighborhood children and dogs. Absent members are missed and newcomers are soon park regulars.
Does your community have a thriving Third Place?
Tell us about it. In 300 words or less, tell us what makes your Third Place a magnet for members of your community, and how it enriches the public life. Be sure to give us a complete address, and contact information for at least one person familiar with the space. We will consider them for future installments of “Third Places.”
Send submissions to:
c/o M.K. McFarland
The Saturday Gazette-Mail
1001 Virginia St. E. Charleston, WV 25301
or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.