My father sent me a link to an article today, Froma Harrop's Losing Our Third Places. It echoes the conversation a break-out group "village" in which I participated had at a Community Speak-Out hosted by the Sharon Pluralism Network (SPN) recently. And that is: we seek more opportunities to interact with people in our community whom we might not otherwise encounter. If you don't go to my place of worship, if your children are not going to the same school as mine, where might we meet? Where is the place where some mixing can happen? Harrop uses the term "third place" and references the sociologist who came up with the term, Ray Oldenburg. I enjoyed a YouTube video of Oldenburg explaining all the benefits "third places" provide. If you have 18 minutes to spare, I encourage you to watch it here.
While Harrop specifically mentions the elderly and telecommuters who need a break from their home office, I believe we would all benefit from having an inexpensive place where we could go frequently, some neutral territory, where no one is burdened with hosting (with the exception of those worker-owners, of course!).
I'm going to check out Ray Oldenburg's book, The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. I just wish you could find me reading it at our local third place!