What’s your Favorite Third Place?

A DJ, a geology professor, a poet and others tell us about where they go to find community.

In considering work-life balance, let’s not forget the value of the “third place,” those informal public gathering spaces we couldn’t live without.

Sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the term and acknowledged these places as playing a critical role in a healthy, vibrant community. Why? Because they bring us together.

Seattle’s Green Lake Park

“For most of the past 20 years I’ve lived within 1 mile of Green Lake. I run it. We (my wife Amy and I and our kids) go 3 to 4 times a week, rain or shine. One kid’s on the bike; one kid’s on the stroller. We love it. You see kids rowing. You see all different generations. You see the guy who teaches Spanish walking around.”

John Richards/Host, The Morning Show on KEXP

Utopia Coffee Shop, Ellensburg WA


Utopia, Ellensburg, WA and, previously, Java on Main, Hailey, ID

“A quiet coffee shop to do my crosswords, grade papers and run into locals. I would spend my entire Saturday morning there.”

Matt Manweller/WA State Representative

Tony's Bakery and Deli in Rainier Valley, Seattle


Tony’s Bakery and Deli in Seattle’s Rainier Valley

“Every morning I go to my mom’s shop. There’s a few men who sit out front at this tiny table sharing stories, drinking coffee, and smoking. There are always greetings and banter. Inside, there are often customers of all different ethnicities. There’s always greetings and there’s always banter. I’ll offer assistance; small introductions sometimes become quick chats. The moments are small ones but even those connect us.”

Jacklyn Tran/Social Media Manager, Bánh Mì Unwrapped


The Black Weirdo parties

“Hmmm, I can’t say that I have a favorite third place, but one of the spaces I get my life lately is at The Black Weirdo party, which is founded by Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White of THEESatisfaction. Black Weirdo is described as: an entity that allows Blackness to be celebrated and appreciated in all facets on Earth and beyond. I attend Black Weirdo parties because they make me feel like I’m at a family reunion even when meeting people that I’ve never met before. I attend because I find it necessary to have a space where I connect with black, brown and GLBTQ folks and allies. Every aspect of the community at a Black Weirdo party inspires me — from the music, to the fashion, to the faces, to the dancing, to the conversation. It’s very much the un-mainstream. The music is funked, beats hard and patrons, DJs and performers seem to connect with one another in simplistic yet deeply beautiful ways.”

SoulChilde BlueSun aka okanomodé/Vocalist & Poet

Cafe Racer in Seattle's U-District


Café Racer in Seattle’s U-District

“Café Racer. I don’t go very often, but I feel deeply connected. In an era of online personas and status updates, Racer is warm and real, where people are encouraged to be creative, to experience the unexpected, to be their true, whole selves.”

Janet Galore/Artist & Technologist


The Winthrop Ice and Sports Rink, Winthrop

“You connect and catch up. A 60-year-old with two hip replacements; a 16-year-old girl; out-of-towners who are visiting and people I know. A lot of people will drive hours for a hockey session, from Omak, Grand Coulee, Tonasket. The only common thread we have is hockey.”

Mike Hilton/Contractor


The Yakima River

“Well I guess my favorite third place has to be somewhere along the Yakima River, which is really the heart of Ellensburg for me. Whether that means my boyfriend and I are walking my dog along it or swimming him in it at the Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park in the fall or spring, or floating the upper or lower stretches of the river with a group of friends in the summer, or even hiking above it or along one of its tributaries on an abnormally warm winter day, somehow I am always drawn to it when I recreate. It always ends up being the place I run into to someone I know who is also getting out and enjoying nature, and Clyde (that’s my dog) sees this as the social highlight of his week! Sniff sniff, nuzzle nuzzle, woof woof, sometimes growl growl (but not usually). The trails are always packed with students, professors, and locals and I’m always learning something from someone I meet, either about the winter we are having, or animals that have been seen in the area. You only get that kind of information from other people who are out exploring the landscape.”

Megan K. Walsh, PhD/Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Central Washington University


The Pub at Third Place in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood

“It’s friendly, cozy and cave-like. Local small businesses like these are becoming more scarce. So it’s another reason to patronize them.”

Peter Steinbrueck/Architect

Seward Park in Seattle


Seattle’s Seward Park

“There’s this dynamic. There’s this whole culture of saying ‘Hello.’ You always acknowledge and greet each other and oftentimes, a conversation starts. It’s a reminder that we’re all connected.”

Gordon McHenry, Jr./President & CEO, Solid Ground

ETG Coffee in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


ETG Coffee in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood

“It’s probably the New Yorker in me that gravitates toward small, tightly packed public spaces. I loved, for instance, the original Septieme in Belltown, which was so tiny that you had to negotiate with all the other patrons to get in or out. My regular spot has, for many years, been ETG in Fremont, not much bigger than my kitchen with only one table, two stools and three chairs outside. If it’s full you maybe stand on the sidewalk and put your cup on the newspaper box, or sit on the stoop next door. A certain amount of sociability and cooperation is unavoidable in a place like that. The owner, Lori Mason, is a friend of mine and pours her heart and soul into the place, including roasting the coffee herself. When my son was born we stopped there for coffee on the way home from the hospital. As Fremont, Seattle and the U.S. are driven more and more ruthlessly by capitalism, it’s a blessing to find places exist for human life. For a freelancer it’s a lifesaver to have somewhere to go during the day to space out over a cup of coffee and reconnect with humanity.”

Lori Goldston/Cellist




Do you have a favorite Third Place? Tell us yours by adding it in the comments (below).
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