By Ray Oldenburg
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Extra resources for The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community
10 In Michael Daly’s tragic account of young Peter MacPartland (a “perfect” son from a “perfect” family) who was accused of murdering his father, there is mention of a place, perhaps the only place, in which MacPartland ever found relief from the constant struggling and competition that characterized his life. ”11 Mere escape can be found in many forms and does not begin to account for transformations such as these. Nothing more clearly indicates a third place than that the talk there is good; that it is lively, scintillating, colorful, and engaging.
Its real merits do not depend upon being harried by life, afflicted by stress, or needing time out from gainful activities. The escape theme is not erroneous in substance but in emphasis; it focuses too much upon conditions external to the third place and too little upon experiences and relationships afforded there and nowhere else. Though characterizations of the third place as a mere haven of escape from home and work are inadequate, they do possess a virtue—they invite comparison. The escape theme suggests a world of difference between the corner tavern and the family apartment a block away, between morning coffee in the bungalow and that with the gang at the local bakery.
A comparison of cultures readily reveals that the popularity of conversation in a society is closely related to the popularity of third places. 12 The rate of pub visitation in England or café visitation in France is high and corresponds to an obvious fondness for sociable conversation. ” American men of letters often reveal an envy of those societies in which conversation is more highly regarded than here, and usually recognize the link between activity and setting. The steps of Santa Maria del Fiore swarm with men of every rank and every class; artisans, merchants, teachers, artists, doctors, technicians, poets, scholars.