12.16.2008

The Third Place

bare branch

Have you heard about the third place?

The first place is home.
The second place is work.
The third place is your social meeting place.

side by side

According to Wikipedia:

The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.
Oldenburg calls one's "first place" the home and those that one lives with. The "second place" is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are "anchors" of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. Oldenburg suggests these hallmarks of a true "third place": free or inexpensive; food and drink, while not essential, are important; highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance); involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there; welcoming and comfortable; both new friends and old should be found there. (58)


I had never heard of the "third place" until last week when NPR ran a story about the closing of the third place; coffee shops are closing across that nation and people are losing their third places.

It got me thinking. Where do I go to socialize? It's certainly not the coffee shop or the bar. No, my third place is here in my first place. At home. In front of the computer.

so happy together

My third place is right here with all of you in the blogosphere. This is where I experience community and creative interaction; it's free, accessible, welcoming and comfortable. There are both old and new friends here. This is the place where everybody knows my name (cue Cheers theme song).

I've been trying to resist visiting my third place the last few days, but who am I kidding. I need this place; if fulfills my societal needs. I'm a regular, and I just can't go too long without seeing all of you.

we all need somebody to lean on

About the pictures: I took this series of photos last week. The birds were getting knocked off their branches, so I took them all down for a few days to mull over the problem. Then it hit me. I put them back up in pairs, so they could support each other. Every time I look at them I want to sing, "We all need somebody to lean on." They sure do make a good analogy for how I feel.

59 comments:

  1. Molly--I love this post! Also, I was wondering if you used a specific pattern for your wonderful birds or is it yours? My Mom has a limb that hangs in her house that would love a bird like that on it... (Just what I need: more sewing projects before Christmas)! :-)

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  2. one of the best posts i've read in awhile. me too! love this third place! just made some birds this week :) happy holidays!

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  3. I love your solution of perching the birds in pairs to hold them on the branch better. My birds were also taking dives off their branches (I have mine perched a lovely gnarled branch set upright in an old glass milk bottle). I solved the problem by taking a bit of very fine wire and poking it through each bird's belly, then coiling it tightly around the branch a few times. I picked wire that was pretty close in color to the branch, so you can barely see it.

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  4. Thanks for this post. I had never heard of this concept, and until I got to the end, I was thinking that my third place is the park out front of my house, and how lucky we are to have it and our neighbors. But this (blogland)is my "other" third place, and it's very important to me because it's mine and all of yours, separate (to a degree) from our kids and husbands etc...A room of our own, so to speak. Glad to have such funny, intellegent, creative people in this third place!

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  5. Of course, really smart (intelligent) bloggers use spellcheck first!

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  6. That is an amazingly simple and ingenious solution.

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  7. Whoops....I somehow erased some of my comment...

    I feel the same way, that we are all penpals of a sort, the way women used to write and send letters across the prairie to people they might never see again. I don't think that can possibly be a bad thing.

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  8. That is lovely! I am kind of stuck at home a lot as I get over my treatment aches & pains so my third space is a combo of the beautiful blogs I read, Ravelry, and blogging a bit of my own. Ideally, my local knit shop would be my third place but I don't seem to make it there as often as I'd like. So for now, the daily blog glimpses into other crafters' lives is just perfect.

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  9. Fabulous! I was wondering how long we could go without our Molly. Cheers is not Cheers with Norve. I love how they're all neck-in-neck. So sweet.

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  10. yup, my third place is the same as yours. glad to 'hang out' here with you!

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  11. Lovely post, and how I want to make a bird! The inspiration to finally get over my fear of the sewing maching. The photo of them supporting each other on their branches---wonderful!

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  12. Great post, I love the birds and the photos!

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  13. I love how you arranged the fantastic birds in the gorgeous branch!

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  14. How I love those birdie pairs!
    What a great wall statement.
    I am also happy to be a part of this happy community.
    Now I know where my third place is too.

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  15. What a sweet little post :) I do for sure always pick up a coffee, but I don't linger there long - it usually comes with back to my first or second place. I agree with you, my third place is probably also with me at my first place - the blogosphere :)

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  16. Oh yes, I'm with you! I honestly don't know what I'd do without this "third place". Since I discovered it, my life has been so much more full.

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  17. Oh yeah...this is my third place too. So full of inspiring women - like you Molly! :)

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  18. I'm one of those, mostly, anonymous readers. I don't know if one could talk of the "third place" when it comes to us, not interacting but most often or always only reading. But I sure can agree with someone earlier who wrote about the importance of having a "room" separate from the family. That I'm grateful for, and for the fantastic source of inspiration many of you out there are! Beautiful birds by the way!

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  19. Totally summed up how I feel too. I have a couple of places here, but my real social interaction is on blogs and in facebook (just ask Amber). I've decided that isn't pathetic at all, so don't tell me otherwise.

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  20. oh thank you for coming back to your third place and for helping me "justify" my time spent in the third place. And, if it makes it any better - I'm ususally drinking coffee while at this third place : )

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  21. you just helped me understand a thing or two...cryptic commenter that I am, but let's just say you are a marriage saver today.
    thank you, as usual.

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  22. I completely agree with your words! (And I love those birds!)

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  23. Thank you for writing this! You made my day!
    Off to rearrange my birds ...
    Jeanne :)

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  24. awww...

    One of my third places is closing I found out this week. Home of the best coffee, the BEST croissants, and fully decked out in all-things-owls. However, she's taking her coffee and treats and opening up in Texas. So at least I could tip of Stefani who I have never "really" met that there is some serious good stuff coming her way. Sort of bridges the gap, sort of knits us all a little closer together. One cup of coffee at a time... ((I had a double gingerbread latte today... I feel like I could type all night!!!))

    I'll stop.

    Love the birdies holding each other up. The best of solutions for everyone.

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  25. Very cute post. I love it all Molly.

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  26. I'd never heard of third place either but I *loved* reading about your third place! =)

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  27. Beautiful post Molly, I am awed that you feel that way about all your friends out in cyberspace coming in from near and far. I love reading your blog, I definately feel I connect and have a sense of community in this third space.

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  28. Molly~ this post is so beautiful. I think it typifies all that I love about you: your wisdom, thoughtfulness, insight, and willing to be vulnerable. This third place has become so important to me and YOU are a very big part of it. So glad we didn't have to wait long to all hang out together again. Your flock looks so content...

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  29. I have heard of the third place, but never really felt like I had one. I'm fairly new to this whole blogging thing, but I'm starting to think it may be my third place as well. I just never thought of it that way before. Thanks for sharing. And those birds are so great! Do you have a pattern for them? My house could definitely use some birdies.

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  30. What a thoughtful post - I so appreciate your words right now. Thanks!

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  31. yes! that is it! we have the same third place. thank you for writing about this....it just makes so so much sense.
    big hugs and happy holidays.
    xo.

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  32. Wow, I hadn't heard of the third place before, but this is totally true for me too!

    Love the birds and the metaphor (or is it analogy? I never remember!).

    Awesome blog!

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  33. Never thought of the blog world in this way, but it's my third place too.

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  34. Beautiful post!
    I feel the same way about this third place. And your birds are lovely!

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  35. Yes, I am trying to make this my third place as well. It is difficult living in a foreign country. I know some nice people, but there are still cultural differences so I'm not really very close to anyone here. I use my blog to try to connect with friends and family back home and to look for creative ideas too. It is a lovely place to explore. Love the birds too!

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  36. so well said. I have been thinking about this lately too. your blog is very inspiring, by the way... I hope you don't mind me popping into your 3rd place more often. :) cheers!

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  37. So interesting, and well said. I have a few third places, I think. The blogosphere is one, a big one, definitely. I think school was one, and I'm going to have to get used to not having that in my life anymore. And for the past few months I had a standing date with a friend at a local tex mex bar for good margaritas and fish tacos. I'd love to keep that going, but I think it may phase out as I cut back on spending.

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  38. Beautiful post.
    In a sighing, whispy, Friendly sort of way.
    Thanks so much for so delightfully influencing my morning - it goes so Well-ly (a term we use in our home) with my earlier intentions for my day.
    Blessings,
    Stephanie

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  39. wow. that is so totally true. I have blogger friends who take time away from the computer becuase they feel they spend too much time there but it is totally my third place. Always open, always serving hot tea.

    Love this post.

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  40. SWEET!!! I love the birdies! They are great! You motivate me to post!

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  41. One of my favs in the greater Seattle area is actually called Third Place Books - a combination used and new book store, bakery, auditorium, with lots of tables for talking over coffee (and cake from the bakery, of course!). Here's their web site: http://www.thirdplacebooks.com.

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  42. This is a great post. I linked to it on my sidebar because it describes my "third place" exactly. My blog, my internet community, that is my third place. Thanks for the post.

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  43. So true! And the good news is the third place can be right next to the legos! I really enjoy your blog--we moved to the North Bay last year.
    Any chance you can share the name of the wall paint behind your birds? Each time I see it, I feel calm....

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  44. It's a phenomenon - this internet socializing. Whenever I try to 'break the habit' I end up asking myself why. I'm home a lot talking to a baby. I need adult companionship and I really need to know that the world is smaller than it seems and yet larger than my living room. My third place is also my first place.

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  45. followed a link here and found truth and love. thanks so much!!

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  46. I pretty much echo the other sentiments--I love the idea of this as the "third place." It's so true. And it also gives me justification for being on the computer so much! This year was the year I really discovered blog-land--so many new friends to drop in on, so many adventures and different points of view on our common job, mothering. Silly as it may sound, reading and commenting on blogs feeds me--creatively, spiritually. Welcome back to the third place!

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  47. very beautifully put… and so true.

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  48. molly, this is so well said. i was just saying to matt not long ago that it seems strange to me to be making friends that i may never see, and that i have more in common with them than many of my 'real' friends. then he pointed out that i am seeking out people who share the same interests as me to begin with. reading blogs, etc that speak to me or strike a chord with my beliefs or lifestyle. like yours.
    i miss your posts when you take a break and like you i itch to get back to my posts when i've taken a few days off. it's become part of me and i miss those connections after awhile. this third place balances me and pushes me to seek out and try new things. it's a hard place to resist for too long, but those intermissions are sometimes understandably needed.
    glad you came back to do this post!

    LOVE those birds. i'm going to have to attempt to make some for bea's room. (which by the way - she and henry are doing great, thanks for asking).

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  49. Oh geez girl...Im all weepy now. But it doesnt take much these days.

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  50. Amazing post... my new "favorite."

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  51. that is very sweet- about the third place. I had never thought of it that way.
    I just opened a gift shop - so that is one of my "second places" and quickly becoming my third. I have met a great heaping handful of cool, creative women at my little shop. I plan to have a weekly craft night this winter to further encourage that sense of community that is growing around me.

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