Third spaces: There are first spaces: home. And second spaces: the workplace. And then there are what sociologists and others call “third spaces” — public libraries, clubs, churches, parks, cafes, bookstores... Third spaces are essential to civic society, to democracy, to civic engagement.
Saturday, December 24, 2022
#359 / Third Spaces
That's "Manny's," pictured above. Manny's is a kind of political event center, located in San Francisco - and it's a restaurant, too. The Kitchen Sisters call it a "Third Space." If you are into podcasts, you may already know about The Kitchen Sisters (they have a local, Santa Cruz County provenance). If not, I encourage you to click that link, above, and get acquainted.
Here, specifically, is what The Kitchen Sisters say about "Third Spaces." This comes from an email notification that I received some time ago - well before the November 8th election:
I studied history as a college undergraduate, and I focused, mostly, on the American Revolution. We tend to forget that it was a vigorous "civic society," in pre-revolutionary times, that led to the success of our revolution. I have noted this fact before, commenting on Elizabeth Beaumont's excellent book, The Civic Constitution. My own studies in college absolutely confirm what she says in that book - and what Hannah Arendt says, too. "Committees of Correspondence," associated with what The Kitchen Sisters call "Third Spaces," were really the "mitochondria" of the revolution; they were the "organelles" that powered it.
Strangers talking to strangers - in coffee houses, bookstores, cafes, and similar public spaces - were truly what made our revolution possible. I dare say that significant economic, social, and political change today - if we hope to have some of that, anytime soon - will also require something more than "online" exchanges, and dialogues advanced in cyberspace.
We're going to need those "Third Spaces," where we can start talking to strangers and change the world!