Ray Oldenburg, coauthor of this book, is famous for giving a name to a phenomenon seen throughout history: the third place. Third places are social gathering spots, distinct from home (the first place) and work (the second place). Traditional third places are havens of sociability where conversation is the main activity and conviviality prevails. They include cafes, coffee shops, tea houses, beauty parlors, general stores, taverns, parks, street corners, and all the other places where we come together.
In the post-pandemic age, the concept of the third place is being adapted, and promoted, around the world. The term is used by developers and town planners, by social workers and coworking entrepreneurs. Social media platforms are sometimes described as online third places. But what is a true third place?
Third Places: A Very VERY Short Introduction sets out the defining features of a third place and provides a wide variety of examples. Oldenburg’s analysis of the effects of zoning is intended to promote fresh thinking about livable and walkable communities. The authors show how third places are related to social infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and libraries. They also provide specific ideas about how to assess, sustain, rebuild, and strengthen the third places that make us happier and healthier, strengthen democracy, and enable us to live sustainably.