Celebrating Community Through Third Places

Nominate Your Third Place!

We are so grateful for all the nominations we received! Though we’re no longer accepting new nominations for this recognition campaign, we encourage you to read the stories of Third Places below and explore the Third Places Fund grant by clicking below.

Third Places Fund

Want stories of Third Places?

Look no further than the little love letters Washington residents have submitted about their downtown home-away-from-homes—they highlight the role of these important places in their lives and communities.

Third Places Are Critical to Community

What are Third Places? They are informal gathering spaces outside of your home (“First Place”) and work (“Second Place”) where you connect with others. Third Places are where people come together to exchange ideas, build relationships, and create a shared feeling of belonging in a community.

This year has been full of challenges and one of the most unique has been how we connect with each other while social distancing and staying safe. For a community to have a sense of place, that feeling of belonging you share as equally with friends as you do with strangers in your favorite downtown locale, there has to be somewhere you can go to connect outside your home or work—especially if your home and work are now the same place! What communities need right now are Third Places. Want a quick explanation of the term Third Place and where it comes from? Click the video below!

Third Places—where people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation—are the heart of a community’s social vitality. Third Places encourage people to build relationships which have been shown to strengthen place identity, improve long-term community health outcomes, and promote economic resiliency. Socially connected adults are healthier and live longer than their isolated peers, and Third Places encourage social interaction across all segments of community.

Third Places can be civic buildings (like libraries), public spaces (like parks and squares), or businesses (like pubs or bookstores). Small businesses that function as Third Places tend to be especially likely to utilize adaptive business strategies that make them hyper-responsive to local markets and ultimately more resilient and sustainable in the face of change. Exchanging stories and local news at informal gathering places creates a shared community narrative and bridges the history of a downtown to its present and future.

Interested in all the details? Pick up a copy of Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community or get a copy of Celebrating The Third Place, the follow-up anthology edited by Oldenburg, at your local bookstore.

Join us in celebrating the many Third Places across Washington by nominating your local Third Place!