In third space, no one can hear you scream

Streets are for people, the earth is for people, this planet, the roads on it, the space on it –the sole purpose for the spaces outside our homes is not transportation for commerce, they are for political action and creativity.

Your life:

Family as you define it, YOU, Community/Politics, Creativity (whatever order you desire and you can even replace it with things you like better, no one defines you, but you).

Your life regulated:

1. Work 2. Home 3. Nuclear Middle Class Family

The whole narrative of what streets are has been hijacked by capitalism. The point of your life, my life, and your kid’s life isn’t to make as much money possible for the wealthy and that’s what public space has become about. That’s what the idea that third place is replacing, it is about commercializing public space, it is about regulating public space, the definition of the third space already existed –it was the public space unregulated.

The only regulations in our public spaces should be on objects, so that we, regardless of age, gender or ability, can walk around without fear and in comfort, and even the smallest child would have access to play without worry of being hurt.

The third place as defined in the book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989) states that “third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place” and while I agree with much of the book, I feel that it has been greatly misinterpreted.

The spaces of the past that brought about revolution and change, didn’t regulate people.

Starbucks makes you buy a coffee and most people aren’t socializing or discussing politics over coffee, they are trying to survive in some professional gig economy hell or they are studying so they can graduate and create their own version of professional gig economy hell.

We have been forced into these so called third spaces, because of racism, classism, and the effectiveness of the public space as a place for change.

The third space is a regulated place where people can let off steam and pretend to be in a public space, but with a schedule.

These places of engagement, activism, art, and creativity existed on our streets, our pubic squares, but now our public space has been taken away and we have government agencies and private corporations organizing and driving the conversations of our civic engagement and creativity.

You can’t have authentic civic engagement if you need a permit. You can’t have art if you have to compete in a Battle Royale competition to create it.

Lark Lo, Black Kids in Outer Space


Leave a Reply