“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.” Cheers Theme Song
Andres Duany, founder of the New Urbanism and The Smart Code, known by many as “Andres the Great” and “Duany the Dynamic” is scene as a visionary of what better communities can look like. After all, he was the genius behind Seaside Florida in 1982. Since then, many have attempted to recreate this small (only 80 acres) town. Most have failed. Today Andres spends much of his time speaking on urbanism topics and giving his stamp of approval on development worldwide. It is common for developments to get approval simply based on his name being associated with it.
In his book Suburban Nation, Andres covers the importance of this “Third Place.” Third places are defined as one of three places that meet fundamental human needs: home, a first place; work, a second place; and a third place, where we go to find community, relaxation, and simply “be” when we aren’t at home or working. Examples of these places can be a local coffee shop, pub, park, inexpensive diners, and social clubs.
Many Urbanist, like Duany, suggest that the third place plays just as big of a role as our “other” places. With proper third places, we are less dependent on building a self sufficient McMansion that has a separate room for every area of our lives. You simply do not need a 500 sq. ft. home gym and a two-acre front yard if there is a fitness facility and community park within a safe walking distance.
So, where is your third place? You can get an idea of how your area scores at Walk Score.com . You simply type in your address and it will give you a score 0-100. A zero means that you could possibly be a hermit while a 100 shows that you are living in Manhattan.
A personal note. Being in graduate school and a father of a two year old, I would say that my third place is a local coffee shop and a newly renovated park nearby. Both are within walking distance of my house. However, my “walk score” is 42. You may ask “why is it that you are within walking distances to plenty of third places but you score is so low?” Well, it is because the score factors in accessible routes to these locations. For me and my little girl to go to the park that is located within .5 mile of my home I have to get both of us loaded into the car, cross traffic and drive ¼ mile, and turn into the park. The reason that we have to go through all of this is because our city lacks of sidewalks that can safely get us to the park. But hey, that is a whole different blog! What’s your third Place?
What do You Think?