Back in 2013, I created a community of people interested in learning and development to gather in social environments for conversations and connections called Third Place.
It was inspired by a book I had read by Ray Oldenberg called The Great Good Place and a London tweetup that I had attended that got me thinking of how people gather in various community spaces to talk to people from different backgrounds and interests and be inspired to learn from each other and with each other. It was all about conversations.
Whatever came from the conversations was purely driven by the participants themselves.
My idea was that I wanted it to be free and voluntary. Most of all, I DIDN’T want to create it into some form of business or to sell my products and services to the community despite people asking me why I hadn’t monetised it. My belief is that once something is monetised, it ceases to be a true community because then not only do I lose interest in it, members have this expectation to buy, to commit, to refer. I never wanted anyone to feel compelled that they were part of a community where I was deriving some monetary benefit. This type of thinking, of course, has held me back in business but really, I’m not too worried because what I built was something bigger – a legacy of sorts that made people feel good.
In the last year, numbers to events had dwindled down and due to my increasing workload, I hadn’t created additional events. We had a small group of solid participators who would go to events but it started to make me think about the platform we were also using. Given that I never wanted to onforward the cost of the administration fees to the group or the leadership team (a small band of people who helped organise events), I decided to transfer the group to a Facebook Community and invite members to join if they wanted to.
At last count, we had 506 members of the group and created 138 events since 2013. Also the concept of Third Place was now in the vernacular so it was more than I could hope for.
In the last few months, I transferred the community over to Facebook, and although the community is a lot smaller, Facebook will also allow us additional functionality that we could explore. I can still create events and have discussions and chats in this platform. If need be, we also have video and live video options available to us.
Yesterday I finally closed off the group on the Meetup platform after some considerable trouble with the platform itself refusing to close the group down. One of the stipulations of Meetup is that you can step down as an organiser but they make it difficult to actually close or deactivate the group. After some toing and froing, finally, I was able to deactivate the account because I didn’t want TWO different versions of Third Place – one on Meetup and one on Facebook!
There was, of course, a strong element that I had worked hard to get the group to be where it was today and I didn’t want to let it go either.
I see Third Place as my third place – my space where I can invite people to share in an event – whether it’s a coffee, an after work drink, a lunch with me and with others.
I couldn’t step down as an organiser and see it either die down or morph into something that was not aligned to my original vision – or worse, it’s database used to sell services – so I kept it on but with a different, smaller focus even if it meant that some of the community would elect not to move over to Facebook.
So Third Place is still alive – it’s there and as of 2019, we will have more events. Hope you can join us!
If you would like to join, then head over here.
Here are some blog posts I have written in the past about Third Place:
- What Is the Third Place Community?
- Third Place in Company & Conversation – A Place Where the PLN Gathers
- Our First Meetup with Third Place
- Are You Looking for Experts? They’re in Third Place
- Where Are the Cubicles? Our First Co-Working Event in Third Place
- Where’s Your Third Place?
- Where Are All the Third Places?
- The Docklands Library as My Third Place
- Where Are The Third Places in the Burbs?
- Update on Third Place