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This is a good piece about third places (“settings a person frequents beyond their home & work”), their benefits, how to find/make your own, and the challenges people face in finding them. Do you have a third place?

Discussion  25 comments

William Ross

Yes, it’s a fell-running club. The ‘space’ is distributed across various pubs and village halls but it has the same good mixture of companionship and unpredictability. For a fifty-something coder-parent there aren’t many opportunities to merge into a happy jumble of people. I highly recommend the silly amateur sports club route.

Thanks for the skim-read; it was interesting.

Jason KottkeMOD

I had to look up what fell-running is...we don't really have that here in the US.

Mike F.

Sounds like what we'd call cross-country running, or even just trail-running.

William Ross Edited

It’s a very north of England thing. You need some small mountains with pubs underneath them, and a tolerance for amiable ridicule.

Many of us are quite ill-suited to it, but the shared endeavour and frequent failures help to furnish the space. I guess any outdoor sport would do.

Richard Heppner Jr.

"You need some small mountains with pubs underneath them, and a tolerance for amiable ridicule."
This seems like something we should have in Pittsburgh!

Jo Ma

I think a similar style recurring event are the worldwide Hash House Harriers.
Bonus points for the circa 2000 website

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Matt G

Been searching for third spaces post-Covid. What little we had is gone now. And it's especially difficult with little kids.

I'm also tired of starting things. I want to just join something good for once.

Malia Cordel

Just a reminder that we're not "post-Covid." Covid is still here and still wreaking havoc on people's lives. The government-declared emergency and is over, but the pandemic is not.

My close family member just spent weeks in the hospital because of Covid and has now died. I thank you for adjusting your terminology moving forward.

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Jason KottkeMOD

I lost my third place when I moved to VT and haven't ever really found a new one. (My desk is at the foot of my bed, so technically I don't really have a second place either.) To some extent, "online" is third-placey for me, but less so than in, say, 2006. Maybe that's part of why I turned comments back on for the site.

Lauren Ouellette

I'm also lacking a second place; I'd been working remotely since the pandemic and recently transitioned to being a stay-at-home parent.

My local library and the place where I take music lessons are probably closest to being my third places these days. Neither provides quite the level of group social interaction I'd like, though. Something for me to think more about.

Chris Frampton

I wonder if we ever really had them. I'm in the business of developing real estate where our goal is always to create these kinds of places. Interestingly, I do notice that clubs of all ilks do create third place. A great example has been the Soho House chain, and, of course, golf clubs. But, so many of those are a privileged/expensive. And, they are in some ways exclusive. Open and widely-available third spaces are so much harder.

But, there seems to me to be a model in there. Third places have some component of like-minded people, whether that's interest in art or coffee or dance or golf or tennis or beer or trivia or the neighborhood. The best third-places, as is almost always the case, I believe, reflect Jane Jacobs idea of the public realm. By having chances to interact with each other - in front of the dry cleaner, at the White Horse Tavern, at school, in the library's reading room - we have more chances to create connection.

At the end of the day, a third place is a place where we feel we belong. Knowing each other creates belonging. Shared spaces create knowing.

Colter Mccorkindale

It's interesting to hear the real estate perspective on this, because probably the main reason why third places are so scarce is they're not dedicated to maximizing profit, so they never last very long.

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Lacey V

The library is a great one, especially if you have young kids. We go almost every week and are always running into other families we know.

I work remotely so I treat the local corporate office like a third place sometimes. But lately for me it’s been taking pottery classes. I’m hoping to be able to join a community studio that I can work out of more regularly.


Lacey, when we were looking into places to move, a vibrant library activities list was an important category for us! And bonus for lending libraries of tools, baking stuffs, etc. I'm so excited to be cozy with the books and build my community through the library! Did you see the John Oliver piece on libraries? Two weeks ago, I think?

PS I have an older kid now, but she loves the library, too! You'll find her in the YA Dystopian Romance Section.

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Caroline G.

My third place is probably the park across the street where people with dogs tend to gather and chat when the weather is nice. It's frustrating that it's weather-dependent, but nice that I don't have to spend any money to go/be there.


Throughout my life my third place has always been libraries and bookstores, although the personal social component was def lacking, I always feel safe around books and book lovers and like being around seemingly likeminded people of all ages and backgrounds. Most recently I have found a third place at the gym. YMCA, specifically. They greet me by name, I know all the personal trainers as well as many of the people (of all ages from all backgrounds) who work out at the same time as me. A good local Y is a great third place option and they typically have so many different classes and activities (not all physical fitness related) going on that you can try out for yourself and your kids, if you have them.

Edith ZimmermanMOD

There’s a playground at the foot of our street that’s definitely a third place for me/us. It’s a small town so I know everyone & it’s nice to dip in and chat with people if other grownups are there. When I lived in Brooklyn and had no kids, certain coffee shops were third places — I would go every day and draw. Prospect Park was a third space for me then, too — somewhere to be among people and execute a routine (run) but not have to talk to anyone. Now I like and look forward to the talking aspect more.

Margaret M.

In my 20s, Metafilter meetups were my third place. I still have very close friends from those days, but the in person meetup aspect has barely happened for me since Covid. (I also spend a lot less time at Metafilter.) I also started medical residency in July 2020, so it's not necessarily Covid that was the inflection point, though it coincided with that.

Mary Wallace

Pre-COVID, work was both my second and third spaces. With the combination of remote work and a new position, that third space dropped out. Since then, the indoor pool has become a third space. There's a group of older women (myself included) who swim at the same time and the camaraderie in the locker room has kept me going. I recently decided to delve into my interest in textiles and joined the local weaving guild. I'd call it a second-and-a-half space right now.
As I approach retirement, this has been weighing on my mind. I'm going to lose the second space. I'm trying to develop interests and community outside of work to fill in.


I, too, work remotely, so my first and second places overlap in the good and the predictable unhealthy ways. We are in a weird transitional moment, housesitting in small-town Texas for 4 months (where we know no one) before moving on to a more permanent situation in the fall. I didn't worry about my third space in this temporary living situation, but then, I just stumbled upon it. Folks, my third place is an axe-throwing spot with an open mic night and arcade. I am surprisingly good at axe throwing, especially the nonchalant underhand throw. I laugh and have grown-up small talk with other axers. My daughter will let me throw axes as long as I want if I keep her arcade card topped up. And open mic night has introduced me to a very welcoming and funky queer and artistic community. This 4-month interlude was supposed to be a time for introspection, but has instead turned into a silly, "why not?" moment that really has opened me up to possibilities. I'll miss this remarkable and surprising third space and its amazing house-brewed root beer when we're gone!

Jason KottkeMOD

Excellent, this sounds amazing!

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Colter Mccorkindale

My third spaces have usually been guitar shops or record stores. But those are hard to keep open. My hometown guitar shop closed recently, and it bums me out that there's no place for a kid to go and talk about music with other people. Community has to be found online now, in so many sectors - which can be great, but ultimately, I suspect our bodies miss physical, real-time interaction.

Dave Sandell

I've always wished that our local library would stay open late (like late, late) so that it could be a free third-place for meeting friends that wasn't crazy-loud or where there wasn't pressure to spend a bunch of money on food/drinks.

Brian W

I go to a woodshop to build furniture, and while it's kind of becoming a third place for me, I don't socialize as much as I'd like while I'm there since I'm busy building. My gf and I have been itching for a third place to go to together lately, and while we considered a trivia night or dance classes, we're gonna start with the local bdsm dungeon! They have a rope tying class coming up that we're planning on attending. We took a tour a few weeks ago and it seemed very communal and open.

Tim Hare

There's are three Third Place Books locations in Seattle; I've been to the one in Lake Forest Park and it also functions as a lower-case 'third place' - in the same space are some food places and a "public commons". The link I posted is to their 'About' page where you realize they are named 'Third Place' because they embrace the concept(s)

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