Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Third Place

Placemakers talk about the third place. Your first and second places are home and work, respectively (at least for those with those priorities). Third places are where you go when you're not at home or at work. Typically it's a cafe. One of the favorite third places in our town is a nice, local cafe, but, similar to being a visitor in a small town church, one needs to be careful in selecting a place to sit. You wouldn't want to sit where Bill and Mark and their crew sit.

Third places are important. One small town in the Great Plains, when faced with the prospect of their one cafe closing, decided to run the cafe as a public enterprise through the library.

When I was in college, our third place was a small grill-style restaurant whose liquour license was limited to beer. That was before the current trend for microbrews and local beers, so there was only one choice for beer. But an upscale microbrew or pub with a wide selection of specialty beer has become a common third place in several towns.

For some towns, the 'upscale' part hasn't quite caught on. Somne towns have a number of traditional downtown bars that may well be third places for their patrons, but to some don't project the image the town is trying to portray. Placemakers find themselves in a similar role of the ladies that worked to convert mining towns, logging towns, railroad towns and other rough-and-tumble towns to 'respectable' towns.

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