A couple of years ago, I heard about the idea of the third place: not home, not work, but the other place where people spend time in a comfortable social setting.
It came up in the development of a website for an old workplace and, unsurprisingly, the internet and online social networks are the new third (or fourth) place for people [which I can attest to, given the time I spend on blogs and the people who I’m friends with because of them].
I have thought about this ‘place’ every now and again, in relation to creating a particular environment for artwork, and of course it was brought home to me especially when I was in Europe, sitting in die platz or la piazza with everyone else.
And even more recently, I’ve been thinking about it in terms of how I’ve spent my summer.
Almost every day I go here.
The coffee is good, the barista is cute and it feels homely. The owner is a lovely woman who loves her regulars and they always know what I order: short black.
Creating that kind of atmosphere is not only good business sense for Victoria and the gang, but vital to the health of the community and the individuals within it. It provides an avenue for me to sit, enjoy being around people, without necessarily having to interact, and to feel ‘a part of’ without having to know any prior social codes or language.
And then, after I go there, I go here.
It’s my other third place, but more on the level of a public private place. When I’m out there in the water, swimming or floating, listening to the sound of the waves against the sand, I get introspective [in a socially-acceptable way].
I saw on someone’s delicious list recently (probably from the ever-referenced Dan Hill) an article about the place of the beach in the Australian’s psyche being similar to that of the church as a place to ‘cure what ails ya’. And I’m inclined to agree, really. I always feel better after a swim. I feel more connected to who I am, my body, my place in society – a mental, physical and spiritual salve, the role that the church plays in religious populations: a third place.
Given that I’ll be doing a lot of work in the public sphere this year, the idea of connecting with people publicly when they’re most open to being connected with is an important one and you can expect more on this soon.