Friday, July 15, 2005

The Great Good Place

Derek Melleby, always concerned to improve my mind, has given me Ray Oldenburg's book, The Great Good Place about so-called "third places" like pubs, cafe's, coffeeshops and barbershops (think Jayber Crow or Malcolm X). I've just begun reading, but it already has me thinking, again, about creating such a place myself. My wife and I own a small house about a quarter mile from our home, at a country crossroads which is in the midst of yet more suburban development, which has attached to it a 1500 square foot building previously operated as a country store. Right now, the house is an income property and the store is used as a shop for renovating the house, and as furniture storage (we rent the house furnished.) It is in walking distance of perhaps a hundred homes, but otherwise not on the way to anything, hence is not an ideal commercial property. For about 80 years it was operated as a store by the family that lived in the house, and the son of that family, now in his 80's himself, operates a small barbershop in one corner of it to this day.

I'm interested in determining what features my readers would consider attractive enough to actually warrant their incorporating into their daily lives some visits to such a place, to meet friends and neighbors. Tomorrow, I plan to create a little five-question interview like the "Books" interview, and answer it myself, then "tag" some others to answer it. Think about it: What kind of place would you actually go to once or thrice a week, spontaneously, on the way home from work or after dinner or on the weekend, to hang out with friends and meet neighbors? What would it take to interest you in such a public, informal place?

1 comment:

  1. Oldenburg's book is wonderful! We've been considering adding a coffee shop to our fair trade store in Michigan, inspired, in part, by "The Great Good Place."

    I'd be interested in seeing the questions you devise.