They’re all over Melbourne.
In fact, they’re popping up in cities all around the world!
Last year I started an informal networking group for anyone in the field of learning, training, instructional design, coaching across any sector – whether it’s academia, vocational, public, private, not-for-profit or freelancers as a way to connect people in our field.
My intention for Third Place was to be just that – our third place – a place where we could meet people in similar industries and backgrounds to share, learn and connect in an informal and social environment. A place where conversations just happened and ideas transpired.
The intention was to not be obligated to pay for membership or subscription fees, pay for events, attend formal programs of learning or contrived networking environments. Nor was it a place where vendor products and services are pushed – although they could be openly discussed. It was not about people telling people what they should and shouldn’t do.
It was about simply about people getting together to listen, contribute, learn and above all, have a laugh.
I’ve had my fair share of formalities in life from wearing uniforms and corporate suits, black-tie events, client presentations, sitting in classrooms, awkward stakeholder meetings where there were clear “pecking orders” in the room, silver service dinners in grand surroundings wondering what fork to use, formal dinners toasting Queen and country. All of those situations brought out an the feeling of the need to ‘fit in’ and ‘not do or say anything wrong’. To follow.
They had their time and place but Third Place is not that.
It is about people organising instantaneous meetups or “pop ups” as they see fit. People getting together for a cup of coffee, a bite of lunch, an after-work drink. Some are co-working events where we get together with our work and our laptops, find a place and settle ourselves to work on our own projects in a ‘third place’ like a co-work space. We also had a couple of Google Hangouts where members across the states could finally meet in person online.
These co-work spaces are somewhere away from our usual place of work and sometimes they are in libraries. Recently, we had one WITHIN another company just for a change of scenery and to get us inspired and thinking creatively outside of the environments that we know so well. We also had a meetup at the Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI) Convention in Melbourne where Third Placers met for a coffee and chat and then were free to explore the many vendor and exhibitor stands during the day.
Third Placers are not my clients nor do I see them as competitors. Who’s not to say that they may be over time? However I’m okay with that because out of it will come collaborations as we each have our particular strengths and focus. Some are even vendors.
Third Placers are my face-to-face personal network whom I can learn from and who each have their own subject matter expertise and passion in learning. They have their own connections and networks but most importantly, they have their own stories to share and are open to sharing them.
They are the first people I call upon if I need help or support to collaborate on a project. They are the first people I think of when someone asks me, “do you know who can help me with XYZ?”
At our events, people who aren’t in our industry “pop in” to our gatherings and our co-working events and they are made welcome.
For example, we have had freelancers in other industries contact us to come along to our meetups so that they can network with others outside of their field. One office fit-out designer who came along to our after work drinks said that he “was going a bit stir crazy at home and needed to meet some new people.”
Emails like this to me are common and I always invite them to come along…
You’ve seen pop up shops, but now I’m keen to explore Third Place as a ‘pop up’ work spaces within the community where we use a variety of places where we can work together.
I really do believe that there is something in this idea especially in communities outside of the city centres and I don’t understand why local government hasn’t seen this as a potential way to reconnect their own community and suburbs especially at a time when there is an increased in home based workers and small businesses. I don’t always want to travel into the city for these meetups! (More in another blog post).
In Third Place, we have a “leadership team” (I HATE this word but unfortunately it’s a term that the Meetup software uses so I can’t change it) , in Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane who volunteer to co-ordinate events but really, any Third Placer can announce and schedule a meetup using the Meetup software. That’s the beauty of it. This allows any member of the group to create their own ‘pop ups’ at any time and a great way to gauge interest for potential new meetups.
Most of all, the leadership team isn’t obligated in any way to follow how meetups should or shouldn’t occur. For example, the way I organise the meetups in Melbourne are that I integrate them with my work day. If I happen to be in town on any given day, I’ll open the invitation up to others to join me for breakfast, lunch, after work drink or any co-working event. Why eat alone? If I happen to want to go and see something of interest, I invite others. Why go alone?
I’m having fun exploring the concept of Third Places especially as I read more about the Future of Work, Responsive Organisations but also see the impact of automation and outsourcing of industries and the “nestling” back into my own local community. After 20+ years of working 9-5 in the city, I’ve missed a whole chunk of what was happening in my own local community and it’s time to reconnect to something closer to home. I’ll be exploring more of the concept of the “Village Square” (another way to term the Third Place that the Europeans have known for years in another blog post).
Want to find out where the Creative Spaces are in Australia?
Check out Creative Spaces for many listings across Australia – some paid, some free. If you have your own space you’d like to list, then you can use this site too.
The following are free spaces that you can just rock up:
- One Thousand Pound Bend
- Melbourne Jelly (Meetup) (need to join the group)
- NAB Village (you need to be a small business customer with the NAB).
Here are some other spaces in Melbourne (free) to consider:
- State Library of Victoria (lots of hidey holes here; opens at 10am; mad rush for desks; need to get a locker if you have a big backpack at cost)
- Melbourne City Library (wifi glitchy though)
- Library at the Dock (ultra new and funky premises near many cafes)
- RMIT Design Hub (see the virtual tour here – plenty of spaces to work out here – cafe has great views of Melbourne)
- Cafes or anywhere around Federation Square
The following are some of the paid spaces that you can book:
Other Posts on Third Place:
- Where are all the Third Places in the ‘Burbs?
- Docklands Library as My Third Place
- Where’s Your Third Place?
- Where are the Cubicles? Our First Co-Working Event at Third Place
- Are You Looking for Experts? They’re in Third Place
- Our First Meetup with Third Place
- About Third Place