In praise of ‘third places’

I think for most children the coolest thing to have in the winter is your own outdoor skating rink. Its right there in your yard. Very cool.

However, some yards aren’t big enough or flat enough. And they can be a lot of work. The next best thing? An out-door rink in your local park. Outdoor skating rinks have been a blessing during winter lockdowns.

A neighborhood, outdoor skating rink provides that “third place,” as described by Ray Oldenburg, an urban sociologist. In his book, “The Great Good Place,” Oldenburg writes about the importance of informal, public gathering places. He believes “Life without community has produced, for many, a lifestyle consisting mainly of a home-to-work-and-back-again shuffle. Social well-being and psychological health depend upon community and the ‘third places’.” Whether in an urban city center or suburban neighborhood, an ice rink is a ‘third place’ where like-minded people can socialize and connect.

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