Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A home away from home. The Third Place and boy we'll miss The Edwards

So what? A building burnt down.

But it wasn’t just a building. It was a place. It was somewhere that friends gathered, hosted by the friendliest staff who were focussed on service, fun and conviviality. That word – ‘host’ – is the key to describing what we lost when The Edwards burnt down. You can’t just have a building and say “let’s meet here”.

It needs someone in charge, someone who invites others to be a part of a space, to be a part of a feeling. This is so much what we need today – places that are focussed on community, on bringing people together; and that means ‘place-making’.

But they don’t just get ‘made’ - it is key people who give them their life, who create living vibrant welcoming spaces for others to enjoy. Chris Johnson and Chris Joannau did that with The Edwards, and this is what we lost. Jacqui Lappin does the same at the Carrington Bowling Club. Welcoming visionary individuals are critical to creating welcoming spaces.

We seem to do the same with the ukulele - Come together and play! Make friends! Be a part of a community. That is our job. We’ve had a great synergistic relationship with The Edwards for over a year now. We’ve felt welcomed and invited by the different spaces. We’ve even felt inspired to come up with new ideas, like the One Song Sing. It is the spaces, and the combination of people that have inspired us, and that is what we have lost.
A One Song Sing at The Edwards
We do so hope that The Edwards can rise phoenix-like. We really do, and we hope that we can recreate that good Edwards feeling that so many felt in our ukestra there.

Toby, pup and chef at The Hop
Meanwhile we are making a new home for Thursday nights at The Hop (still, I believe, called The Hop Factory), in Darby St. It has the right vibe, but most importantly, it has the right host. Toby Wilson was the first person to invite us to The Edwards and to say – Hey! Pull up a chair! Relax! Why don’t you play some uke here? In some ways he started it at The Edwards for us. But in April he left The Edwards and took over at The Hop Factory. Toby and family (yes, ukestra teacher/leader Kathy Wilson is his mum) pulled out all stops at the last minute two weeks in a row in June to make us welcome at The Hop. So we reckon it will be a good substitute for The Edwards. Here’s hoping all the ingredients are there to sound good and feel snuggly.

I’ve written this somewhere above the bloody North Pole, on the Great Circle Route from Edmonton, Canada, to London, England. Strange.

Both Jane and I look forward to returning to Thursday nights at The Hop in mid July, after our ukestration sojourn in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you are wondering why we are so passionate about these things, we’ve just written about it in our Ukestration Manual. This is one of the key things that drives us. For the curious, here is an extract from Page 11 of The Ukestration Manual.

Vale The Edwards. Rise again! Long Live The Edwards!


Creating a ‘Third Place’

We all have two main places in our lives. The first is home, the second is work. These two places are very specific in their roles, and in what they expose us to. The rules of engagement are relatively well defined and the expectations of opinions and behaviours are equally regulated.

Third places are different. In his 1989 book The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community, Ray Oldenburg describes third places as essential to a vital community life. These are places and venues where social equality is promoted and informal supports are provided to the individuals and communities that form there. Unfortunately modern society has lost many third places – churches, community halls and clubs, for example – places that were once the heart of a community’s social vitality.

Third places need two principal features to work well – a physical venue and social interaction. The venue is important for the comfort and familiarity it provides. However, a catalyst, activity, ritual or habit is essential to ‘activate’ a space. Therefore, if a weekly ukulele session can be the catalyst for coming together, this is a positive legacy of the work of a community musician. But we still need a tangible space for this ukulele-focused third place.


If you are a uke teacher/leader, we are certain that your teaching and leadership would benefit from having a copy of The Ukestration Manual, available now for electronic download from www.ukestration.com

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mark, Well done - couldn't have put it better etc. etc. I have only been part of this community for a few short months, but it has emphasised the importance of that third place you talk about and I am glad that I have found one. In doing so, I hope as do all people involved that The Edwards rises again and we can continue doing the things we love in those great surroundings, both physically and socially.