A "Third Place" is a familiar, accessible spot, where you gather and connect with people, often over a shared interest or activity. In these places, we aren’t burdened by the tasks of the office or the piles of laundry at home. First coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place, back in the 1980s, Ray noticed that cities across Asia and Europe were flush with third places - affordable and accessible gathering spaces open across class, status, etc. A third place balances the obligation and duties of our first place (home) and second place (work). In our third places community unfolds; without them, loneliness and isolation creep in. Think, the chess tables under the oak trees in Paris, the skate parks on the beach in Ventura, your neighborhood coffee shop, bars, yoga studios, and climbing gyms to name a few.
But third places have increasingly become a relic of the pre-pandemic times, an era of sitting side by side with strangers at community tables in crowded restaurants, reading a book for hours in a cafe, or simply walking down the sidewalk (noticeably missing in so many of our neighborhoods!) and having a casual chat with another parent as your kiddos play.
“A community life can exist when one can go daily to a given location at a given time and see many of the people one knows” writes another sociologist, Philip Slater, in a book on loneliness. Third places are neutral ground, taking the pressure off of individuals to create community by themselves, inviting people over, planning events, etc. In the shrunken world of the pandemic, safe spaces to interact with a wide and diverse group of humans, share casual stories about your day, participate in an activity together, are a life line for human health and happiness.
There are 8 characteristics of a third place:
- Neutral ground
- It’s a leveling place
- Lighthearted conversation and connection are the focus
- They are accessible and accommodating
- There are regulars
- It has a light atmosphere
- It's a home away from home
- A third place is a powerful antidote to isolation and exclusion. It restores connection, gives us a shared identity, supports us, and allows us to be our genuine self. Strong relationships, and a wide and diverse social web are so vital to our health and happiness, and third places are a haven for nurturing great relationships.
Rocksteady is a third place, we’re here to be a place for people to develop human connection, both casual and close, that you can look forward to to unwind, recharge, and reset. For many of you, coming to classes, private movement sessions, experiences and bodywork has introduced you to new people, new ideas, and kept an aspect of novelty and connection present in the compressed times of the past few years.