Third Spaces and Places [Planting the Seed April 2024]

“I am participating in the creation of yet another culture, a new story to explain the world and our participation in it, a new value system with images and symbols that connect us to each other and to the planet.”

— Gloria Anzaldua

For the past 3 months  in Rooted, we’ve been thinking about the following threads:

  • The non-transactional nature of play, and its role in breaking through what feels impossible to hold.
  • Ways play creates room for big emotions like grief and anger, and can move calcified energy to make us available for change.
  • Care ecologies as organisms that need time, ritual, and repetition. (where do we go for that?)
  • Journeying towards visions that we may not achieve in this lifetime.
  • Clowning as learning “to celebrate failure in public”.

And we’re thinking about how this global online village acts as a ‘third space or place’ to explore all of this.

Have you heard the term 'Third Space' before?  

One of our villagers shared this note with us:

“A friend of mine, with whom I was sharing about Rooted, called it a deep third space. I hadn’t heard the term before.  She said there weren’t enough of these kinds of spaces—away from work and home—for people to just be.”

There’s more than one definition of third spaces, and how they take shape, which we love.

What follows are jumping off points for your own exploration of third space.

We came across this publication online on borderland rhetorics and third space sites; it led us to this definition :

“Borderland rhetorics are rhetorics of resistance, coalition, community education, activism, imagination, and representation that are produced and reproduced in third‑space contexts.”

And this one, from Rochelle Nembhard’s Ted Talk….

The place in which we would fit, would not exist until we created it. Our circumstances became the perfect breeding grounds to consciously push back and create something new — our third space….

Post colonial theorist Homi Bhabha describes the third space as; ‘the space that arises between the colliding of cultures. Which in turn gives rise to something different. Something new and unrecognizable. It is in this in-between borderless space, where new cultural identities are formed, re-formed, and constantly in a state of becoming.’  

…We were in search of a new culture. One that was not defined by the place we were born, but rather by where we were going. We refused to adopt imposed fixed narratives and identities about ourselves.”  

When we envision ‘third space’ within Rooted, we see…

Space that can contain multitudes.

Space (within) containing multitudes.

Space that welcomes us as we are.

Space (within) that welcomes us as we are.

Space infused with biophilic (life-affirming) values, easily forgotten.

“We may not need a third place association to build a town hall anymore, but we sorely need it to construct the infrastructures of human relationships.”

- Ray Oldenburg

Further ways to explore the realm of ‘Third space’:

The Lived Experiences of Black Men creating third space at a predominantly white institution

Video: Mimi Thi Nguyen - Veteran Punk ‘3rd Space’ Zine Creator, Artist Interview where Mimi discusses what zine’s are, and the process of making one by hand. And as Zines are ways to start conversations that “lower the waterline” on topics that are invisible within the dominant consciousness.

Mimi Nguyen’s Monograph / Zine  - The Gift of Freedom, War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages

NA Novel : Forgetting the Alamo, by Emma Perez.

The Disruptive Power of the Third Space, Ted Talk by Rochelle Nembhard

In The Laboratory of Your Life: Third Space

Do you have a third space in mind?

When you envision one, what shape does it take?

What is the most beautiful version of a third space you can imagine?

Where might third space conversations be taking place in your local area?

What examples of them can you name in…

Your physical location?

Your day?

Your broader engagement online?

While just being?

It feels so good - in the most delicious way. To just experience yourself being, and creates a kind of 3rd space, wouldn't you say?

As we are beings interconnected to all of life, experiencing ourselves as being has much to show us about what connection means.

Perhaps ask these questions of yourself and with a friend or family member.

Journal with it, and then share your answers with one another.

On the Podcast: Play as Liberatory Practice

On the Tending the Roots podcast - a conversation on Play with Heidi J. Cardoza.

We talked about chaos, and it’s part in the whole.

What dropping our preconceived notions feels like, and what it makes us available for.

How our shadow is banned.

Perfect lawns.

The joy in all abilities improv groups.

In Rooted this year... Through the Kaleidoscope: A Journey of Play, Creativity & Imagining Futures

Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, in her book, The Wisdom of No Escape, tells the story of a woman running from tigers. She runs and runs as the tigers grow closer behind her…until she reaches the edge of a cliff, where she sees vines growing down.  

She grabs hold of a vine, and climbs down, but to her disappointment, she sees that there are tigers on the ground below her as well. At the same time, a mouse begins gnawing on the vine she is holding on to. An impossible situation - wouldn’t you agree?

Above her, there is no escape. Below her, there is no escape, and her time on the vine is limited. Just then, she sees a bunch of beautiful, red, strawberries growing right in front of her. She looks up, she looks down, then she looks at the mouse.

Then…she takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it with every part of her.

What is the significance of play at the end of the world? Is play self-ish, self-indulgent, foolish? And does it bypass the seriousness of the issues we face in our world? Maybe…

But when it's not a bypass; it's a vital access point to our agency, especially at times when the task at hand - in our personal or collective lives - feels the weight of impossibility with it. The way “out” is “through” as they say. We need the ability to see through other lenses, but this requires a willingness to experiment and fail.

The idea of the clown captures this perfectly — given an impossible task, the clown must experiment its way through the impossible. A chair is not just a chair for the clown; now it's a ladder to reach new heights, or a barricade in an obstacle course. I once saw a clown use a chair in a whimsical dance. The clown tries and fails their way to success.

Play is the energy behind the risk and experimentation that we need to shift and move what can become heavy and calcified within us in the face of an impossible task,  especially when we feel the weight of the world’s suffering so acutely.  

Beginning in May 2024, Rooted is offering a program designed to guide us through a journey of awakening possibility in the face of the impossible. We're joined by an incredible lineup of thinkers and activists who will share their wisdom and practices for expanding our experiential horizons.

We are embarking on more than just a learning experience; it’s also a research project into the heart of our collective liberation.

Join us for Through the Kaleidoscope: A Journey of Play, Creativity and Imagining Futures — You can learn more and register HERE.

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Planting the Seed

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