Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Farmers' Market as "Third Place"

One of my fellow bloggers over at "Canada's World" recently posted a fascinating piece on the concept of 'Third Places':

Ray Oldenburg coined the term “Third Places” in 1989 to distinguish between one’s home (first places) and work (second places). Third places are those public locales that make you feel safe, comfortable and happy. Where you are likely to bump into someone you know. These are the coffee shops, street corners and park benches where people of a certain stage of life tend to gravitate, therefore increasing the chances of chance encounters.

Unfortunately, as our cities suburbanized and our movements became encased in personal automobiles, the number of third places in our lives has diminished. The fear of the uncontrollable spaces outside our private property has taken away the apparent randomness of kids meeting other kids as they prowl the empty spaces the working class leave behind at night. Uncertain exchanges and tentative acts of bravado with the kids two-streets over have been replaced by play dates and organized entertainment. Surprising conversations at the corner pub are losing ground to packed coffee houses silently listening to headphones and typing on laptops. Walkabouts to the local shops are a quaint pastime, whereas one-stop-shopping big-box-store efficiency is an everyday reality.

I had this in mind on Saturday as I did my weekly rounds at the Farmers' Market. At one point I bought myself one of the Scholarship Cafe's famous peameal-on-a-bun sandwiches, and as I stood on the sidewalk eating it I watched for these sorts of 'chance encounters' between people.

I counted at least half a dozen within earshot just in the five minutes or so that I stood there. Just people smiling and waving and saying "Hi! Howareya?" and starting up conversations.

This is why I focused on people-watching with this week's video. As you play it, keep an eye out for the interactions between people, as well as the variety of ages and social groups represented.


I Am The Russian Queen said...

Hallooo J,

This is a cool blog. Just wanted to say hi. frm reneethewriter

Mike Cluett said...

Milton's Farmers Market is by far the best in none.

Great posts Jennifer...thanks for the link as well ;)