Okay, let’s all date ourselves, how many folk remember Cheers, the highly successful sitcom which featured the staff and locals at a bar in Boston?
- Making your way in the world today
- takes everything you’ve got.
- Taking a break from all your worries
- sure would help a lot.
- Wouldn’t you like to get away?
- Sometimes you want to go
- Where everybody knows your name
- and they’re always glad you came
- You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same.
- You wanna be where everyone knows your name.
- Cheers Theme Song
Is that what we want? A place we can hang out that isn’t our living room or the office . . . a Third Place? Ray Oldenberg in The Great Good Place identifies the Third Place as the places we hang out as neighbours . . . peers .. . .citizens . . . or Bownesians (the term used by residents of Bowness to refer to themselves.) Our First Place is our home and the people we live with; our Second Place is where we earn money. Third Places have the following characteristics: free or inexpensive, informal, conversation is a hallmark, and there are regulars.
Bodil Dronkers, Strategy Lead with the Neighbourhood Strategy of the United Way was shocked when she and a colleague offered a short session on community hubs at a recent Community Development Learning Initiative event and 3/4 of the group were interested. It spoke to her of the desire people have for a place where they are known and welcomed. Her understanding is that the pendulum has swung as far as it can go in the direction of individualism and independence and now it is swinging back in the direction of interdependence, community and connection.
Bo thinks that when people hear the term community hubs, they are not thinking of centers where service providers offer programs but spaces where there is no professional/client divide but rather “our trouble are all the same” . . . perhaps more like Third Places.
In her work in Bowness, Bo can identity a number of hubs or Third Places. There is the Cadence Coffee shop and yes, participation in that space is somewhat circumscribed by how much you are willing to pay for a latte. To create a more inclusive and accessible space, the owners have organized a way for patrons to pay it forward by buying coffees for fellow Bownesians who are feeling cash strapped.
Bowness Library has become a place that is not only about books. As Bo says it isn’t quiet anymore! The library has expanded it’s reach including providing lap tops for rent and spaces for children to play.
Bowness Community Association like many community associations in Calgary has a building. The members of the CA are re-imagining how they will use that space. A success which continues to unfold is an indoor playground. It is not just a warm place for children to play but also a gathering place for parents to talk, a connecting spot where service providers can offer basic needs support and a connecting place for a breakfast program offered by a local school.
Do you have a Cheers? Where do you find a Third Place? New Scoop is interested in doing a series of stories on Third Places and community hubs. We would love to hear your ideas.