Everyone needs a special place to go and relax.
When a person is not at work or at home, chances are they are in a third place.
The third place is somewhere where they are not obligated to be. It’s somewhere they choose to be.
A third place is somewhere one can relax in public, see familiar faces and meet new ones.
The first place is home and the second is work.
The main purpose of a third space is to strengthen the sense of community. A third place is usually informal and can be anything from a neighborhood library to a nearby pub. It’s somewhere that tends to be free of the stress associated with home and work lives.
Even if a space is different from someone else’s, all third places share common features. They are level, neutral and accessible. People come and go as they please and social status is irrelevant.
As busy as life is, Courtney Sweetapple from Mount Pearl still makes time for her third places. Whether she’s headed to yoga, or to the local board game café, she’s ready to unwind and have fun.
“It’s a place I can go and focus on something else,” said Sweetapple. “I can put down my phone and talk about life. Plus, it allows me to have some friendly competition.”
Trevor Linehan from St. John’s says he’s a regular moviegoer. The theatre is his third place.
“It’s not just about the movie for me,” said Linehan. “I like talking with people about it afterward and the fun of messing around while waiting in lines, because I like that stuff.”
Third spaces help to de-stress and relax as a person. This also plays a big role in the mental health of a community and its individuals.
Julia Curtis is a psychiatrist with Eastern Health and agrees that third places are crucial for a person’s development.
“The east coast of Newfoundland just endured the blizzard of the century and during the subsequent state of emergency, impromptu third places abounded, with block parties and snow forts that brought neighbours and strangers closer together,” said Curtis.
With more and more social interactions moving from face-to-face to online, Curtis says much is lost.
“We evolved to be social, together, connected, not filtered,” said Curtis.
For Darlene Todd the great outdoors is her third place.
If she’s not in the office or at home with her family, she’s probably on a hiking trail with her husky Zeus.
“It reduces my anxiety and anger,” said Todd. “It gives me a positive attitude and more energy. You meet people too, people who have the same interest as you.”
Social media, says Curtis, is not real life.
“… it’s a filtered version of it,” said Curtis. “It shouldn’t replace valuable time at third places.”