The Third Place
Earlier in my undergraduate degree, I was a Don (also known as a residence don at other universities/colleges) for the University of Waterloo’s Off Campus Community. It was one of the first communities I felt like I belonged to at Waterloo and it introduced me to friends from faculties outside of my my own.
There was a dedicated office in the campus’ Student Life Centre dedicated to the Off Campus Community. Everyone was welcomed to the lounge and there was always someone there. I’d comeby often, usually spending my entire day studying, socializing, or playing some board games with someone at the office. It was my home away from home.
Urban Sociologist, Professor Ray Oldenburg, calls these informal public gathering places the Third Place. Patricia Mou explains what the third place is and it’s importance:
The third place is a concept which identifies places which are not home (first place) or work (second place).
As ‘informal public gathering places’, they are places of refuge, where people can eat, drink, relax, and commune in order to develop a sense of belonging to a place. They are gathering places where community is most alive and people are most themselves.Third places are important because they act as ‘meditation between individuals and the larger society’ and increase a sense of belonging and community.