Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Third Place

I remember those days growing up in Gali when my grandpa’s sundry/coffee shop was always being patronized by the same people every evening for them to relax and meet. When they met they either were talking about the current national events, the happenings in the kampung or just playing checkers (dam haji). The hardship of life and their problems were put away and they were genuinely happy. Late in the evening before maghrib they dispersed and walked or cycled home for the day. This was a standard routine for most of them. Most people will dismiss this as a culture of wasting time or worse pemalas. No doubt they are some truth to that to certain people but they were honest men just gathering at one place every evening to meet, relax and talk. Only recently social scientists concluded that this kind of activities and routine is a community culture building, networking and therapy. 
Oldenburg (1999) in his book discusses this phenomena and taking American backdrop says,
‘In the absence of informal life, American are denied those means of relieving stress that serve other cultures so effectively. We seem not to realize that the means of relieving stress can just as easily be built into an urban environment as those features which produce stress. To our considerable misfortune, the pleasures of the city have been largely reduced to consumerism. ‘ p. 10
‘In the absence of an informal public life, living becomes more expensive.’ p. 11
Expensive because we almost have to pay for everything that used to be availabe to us free before. To be in a community today you may have to pay for steep club membership. Fees to go to the gym, spas and swimming pools to name a few. All these are required by us to help to manage our stress. Rules and regulations sometimes prohibited us to be at one gathering place just to meet.
The concept of the third place is not new then but because of new social behaviour and thinking induce by the new knowledge that we termed as management thinking we misguidedly destroyed the concept.

Oldenburg, Ray (1999). The great good place: cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, hair salons and other hangouts at the heart of a community. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.

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