Hi lovely humans,
I’m writing to you from a cabin in Portland at 6am. Mellow lofi morning radio plays and my coffee cup is full. In the words of Nietzsche, “Autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” After a frenetic season of doing, I look forward to the upcoming months of quiet, solitude, and reflection. To go looking for myself.
As those musings brew, I wanted to use today’s issue to share a few more pragmatic updates:
- Quickly recount the journey leading up to the opening of The Commons / what’s next
- Compilation of over 90+ third spaces you can check-out in sf, berkeley, oakland, nyc, and la.
enjoy & happy thanksgiving ♥️
april 2021: came across a book Rethinking Third Places and was mesmerized by this exert:
Life without community has produced, for many, a life style consisting mainly of a home-to-work-and-back-again-shuttle. Social well-being and psychological health depend upon community.
One conceptual place where community building occurs is the third place. In a time of rapid urbanisation, with a UN projection that 75% of the population will be living in cities by 2050, there is a critical need to revisit third place as a possible contribution to easing increasing levels of anxiety and loneliness and thereby contributing to the health and well-being of individuals and communities.
may-june 2021: spawned from the book, I decided to do a deep dive investigation into third spaces and wrote about them in a 3-part essay series below:
- pt 1: the definition of third spaces today and in the past.
- pt 2: what led to the loss of third spaces in America today.
- pt 3: third spaces of the future
oct 2021: start a (short-lived) blog with friends reviewing third spaces in nyc
may 2022: meet fellow third space nerd, Adi Melamed, and co-found a third space together in San Francisco called The Commons
- essay on why i’m building The Commons
Play by play 👇
september 2022: The Commons officially opens to the public
🔮 january 2023: announcing a strategic shift for The Commons 🏛 Here’s a teaser:
What differs The Commons from other third spaces (WeWork, cafes, etc.) is its ability to build trust and connection between people through their curiosities, passions, and values.
Some of the most inordinate amounts of social, technological, & personal progress were alchemized through the opportune combination of values-aligned humans, and the spaces that housed them.
College was an exemplary crucible for intimate, reoccurring, and serendipitous connections built upon a foundation of default trust through institutional affliction and shared context. The culmination of these informal and formal interactions ultimately lead to meaningful, deep, or transformational experiences. Our next shift will focus on returning all the best parts of the collegiate experience to adulthood.
masterlist of third spaces.
🌉 san francisco
📍Arcana - a bar x plant shop in the mission that hosts a line-up of local musicians.
📍Page Street Writers - a 24/7 co-working space for writers. The space also hosts writing jams, pubilc readings, and classes to hone your craft.
📍SF Zen Center - it's like you're stepping into another world, right in the heart of the city. I've been occasionally going to free drop-in meditation every tue (20 min followed by a dharma talk) & meeting lots of people serendipitously
📍Black Bird Bookstore and Café - with local crafts store & a beautiful backyard terrace for reading. the spaces hosts poetry slams, reading clubs, & craft nights.
📍Red Poppy Art House - "an intercultural and multidisciplinary “space of encounter,” a hub where multiple social-cultural groups could interconnect to experience one another and therefore potentiate one another’s endeavors while weaving a more solid and tolerant social fabric."
📍The Mellow - a plant shop, coffee bar, events venue, and workshops on floral design and wreath making.
📍Archimedes Banya - a co-ed Russian bathhouse with a "mission bring the ancient culture and the health benefits of community bathing activities to the level of Hi-Tech era, as a single alternative to working out in gyms and socializing in bars."
📍The Center - A magical tea house, yoga studio, event space, and conscious community in the heart of San Francisco. The space is run by a community of "healing arts" residents in the co-living space above.
📍Noisebridge - a community run hackerspace. "Meet techie, arty, and crafty folks, take a class, teach a class, use the power tools and electronic labs, build something out of stuff on the hack shelves, use our library, surf the web, and so on."
📍The Interval - bar, cafe, museum, and the home of The Long Now Foundation. The venue has an "Atlas Shrugged" aesthetic and hosts a plethora of salon talks with a futuristic and philosophical bend.
📍Manny's - a non-profit restaurant x political bookshop x civic events and gathering space. The space was created for the public to meet & engage with civic leaders, artists, activists, changemakers, & each other.
📍The Commons - (biased here :p) A community and 3rd space dedicated to open-ended curiosity, co-created play, & collective flourishing. Ft communal library x study space x cafe x events space, we explore curiosities through discussion, art, spirituality, and tech.
📍Public Works - community-minded night club & event space dedicated to "giving the people what they want". Home to intl djs, underground artists, and myriad of arts & music communities.
📍Randall Museum - this free museum is owned by SF Parks & Recs Department. You can pop in for coffee, take in the panoramic views, and say hi to 100 animals. It has a wood shop, craft shop and science facilities that host low cost classes for youth and adults.
📍Noe Valley Town Square - 3rd space funded by neighborhood residents. Always filled w/ elderly people, caregivers w/small children, and WFH workers grabbing lunch. Farmer's market & concerts fill the space and is also used by orgs like the local Democrat club to host meetings.
📍Car-Free Valencia Street - recently returning from a 2-month hiatus. The blocks of Valencia St. from 16th to 17th streets, and between 18th and 21st streets are closed so locals can enjoy artwork, music and outdoor dining along a four-block stretch.
📍Patricia's Green - One plaza contains a children's play area, while the others offer open space, benches, and rotating public art. It is the gathering place for art fairs, outdoor movies, concerts, & community org meetings.
📍Adobe Books - "The Living Room of the Mission" was founded in 198 and a bohemian nexus for a large and rotating cast of artists, musicians, writers, readers, thinker. Today it is a gallery x independent bookstore x event space for book readings, poetry slams, & music.
📍 @theacademy_sf - a LGBTQ+ social club open to all. In addition to the social club and its associated programming, The Academy also offers a barber salon, a daytime co-working lounge called Academy Daylight, and has space available to rent for private events.
🍎 new york city.
📍Land to Sea - a brooklyn multi-use creative space & coffee shop with the goal to uplift and support local creators of color
📍Head Hi - a bookshop espresso bar dedicated to art, design, publications and coffee located in Fort Greene. It's a space for exploration and interaction that hosts talks, book launches, art shows, music performances and other events.
📍BATHHOUSE - a Williamsburg spa that has both a private relaxing component alongside public spaces to catch-up with old and new friends. “The spa is often an isolated experience,” says the founder, “but bathhouses are bustling, fun, engaging places.”
📍Usagi - Calm, Japanese-inspired cafe & exhibition space featuring an art gallery, bookstore & coffee bar. It offers the optimal environment for cross-disciplinary creativity and inspiration by integrating dining, art, and retail.
📍Brooklyn Art Library - home to the world's largest collection of artist's sketchbooks - it's an archive, library, and center for creative inspiration through the plethora of art workshops it hosts.
📍Drama Book Shop - Since 1917, The Drama Book Shop has been a mainstay of the New York theatre scene and a cultural institution for theatrical works. The space hosts in-store scene readings, writing classes, and book talks.
📍Hotel lobbies are great accidental third spaces. Some beautiful ones include The Ludlow Hotel, Bowery Hotel, Public Hotel, & Ace Hotel.
📍The Uncommons - Manhattan's first board game cafe with a vast board game library (the largest on the east coast!), WiFi, coffee & a seasonal menu of sandwiches & light eats.
📍Happy Medium - a 3rd space for casual artists. "There's a lot of stuff out there for kids and capital "A" Artists, but there isn't much for those that fall somewhere in between. We are on a mission to fill the gap."
📍Pioneer Works - a non-profit cultural center in Red Hook, New York City. The center builds community through the arts and sciences to create an open and inspired world. It has 3 floors of interconnected studio, performance, exhibition, and multipurpose spaces.
📍Bookstores are usual suspects for great 3rd spaces as well. Some notable ones in NYC are Unnameable Books, Housing Works Bookstore, Mercer Street Books, Codex Books, & Strand Bookstore.
📍Coffee shops that have a notable "3rd space vibe" are Ground Central Coffee (We are a community of dreamers, students, artists, book lovers, musicians ) and Devocion in Williamsburg.
📍Rock climbing gyms Brooklyn Boulders, The Cliffs, and Vital also have a "3rd spacey vibe". Vital in particular is beautifully situated overlooking the NYC skyline, houses a cafe/restaurant onsite, and consistently blasting popular 90s tracks.
📍Private clubs are not by definition "public 3rd spaces" but may sometimes host public events and are a gravity center to pull like-minded individuals together to collab and mingle. Eg @EmpireDao (web3), @sohohouse (creatives), @vercisocial (gen-z), @contrarycapital (tech)
📍Book Club - an independent bookstore and wine bar in the East Village of NYC, serving coffee, beer, and wine in a cozy community space.
📍Cellar Dog - 9,000-sq-ft live music and game hall. Games include pool tables, ping pong, shuffleboard, foosball, checkers and chess, as well as antique and novelty arcade games including Pac Man and many more.
📍The Hungarian Pastry Shop - on Manhattan’s Upper West Side has fed generations of authors and students. The coffee shop’s wall of book covers commemorates works written by its customers, some at the cafe’s own tables.
📍Elevated public spaces - The Elevated Acre is a one-acre meadow flanked by delightfully designed gardens and plantings elevated above the city streets. The Highline and Little Island nearby is another well-known elevated piece of public-use land.
📍The OG's of NYC public 3rd spaces include Washington Square Park, New York Public Library, Bryant Park, The Met, Prospect Park, and Central Park.
📍 @somewheregood - A Black & Queer-owned community space in Bedstuy. "It's a free space designed for to connect with yourself & local community through play, rest, joy and conversation."
📍 Molasses Books - a bookstore cafe/bar, open until 12am, 7 days a week.
📍 Cafe x Flower stores: Rosecrans & Remi.
📍 MIKA in bushwick is a sake brewery and coffee shop with a lots of space for working or hanging out.
🌿 berkeley · oakland third spaces
📍Hidden Cafe - overlooking a small park, the cafe supports local artists & culinary artisans.
📍 @BerkeleyAlembic - third space that hosts workshops & events in meditation, neuroscience, psychedelic integration, movement, & creativity.
📍Albany Bulb - home to a vast array of urban art including mural, stencil, graffiti, sculpture, and installation art. It's also home to 150 species of birds, huge trees, wildflowers, amazing views, and lots of walking trails.
📍Temescal Alley in Oakland - "Also known as hipster alley for the unusual number of pre-prohibition mustaches and fedoras, and, no kidding, an apothecary, and, wait for it, a vintage propane-powered lever machine for coffee at Cro Cafe"
📍World Folk Jam - monthly festival of folk arts in a Berkeley hills mansion. Honoring ancient traditions via music, movement, art, theater, & spoken word. Each floor of the mansion features everything from qi gong to tea pourings, salsa dancing to fortune telling.
📍4th Street in Berkeley - cozy street where I spent a majority of my time studying for SATs in its myriad of coffee shops 😆 my favs include the pottery barn outlet, CB2, & Artis Coffee. The lights during the holidays on this street are particularly charming and cozy.
📍Indian Rock & Grizzly Peak, Berkeley - the place for a lot of 1sts and existential life pondering in middle/high school :)
📍 @berkeleycityclb - (not a public space) the Berkeley City Club is a private social club, historic hotel, event venue and fine dining restaurant in the heart of Berkeley, by architect Julia Morgan.
📍myriad of buddhist/hindu/thai temples with free service / food and a culture of inclusitivity eg. Berkeley Buddhist Temple, Wat Mongkolratanaram, ISKCON Berkeley, etc.
📍Lake Merritt, Oakland - large lake dotted with public art installations, gardens, a fairy land, rec activities, bird watching, communal jogs, and live music.
📍Crescent Lawn @ UC Berkeley - lawn at the heart of campus for picnics, yoga, reading, communing with friends. Also check out Doe Library and the adjacent reading room for hogwarts vibes :)
📍Telegraph Ave, Berkeley - probably the most "berkeley" place you can go. Known for being the heart of the counter-culture movement in the 60s. Lots of thrift shops, streetwear, record stores, apothecary, bookstores, & street food.
📍The Claremont Club, Oakland - (not public) "The Local's Resort" is on 22 acres and was built in 1915. The club features spas, charity projects, social events, dining, tennis courts, childcare, sound baths, yoga, & swimming.
📍Farley's - Established in 1989 the coffee shop prides itself in being the hub of the Oakland/SF community. "From magazines, to board games to cornhole in the street, Farley's is much more than just a place to grab your morning cup, it is a place to connect"
📍Climbing Gyms: pacific pipe, berkeley ironworks, great western, touchstone climb!
📍Pacific East Mall (99 Ranch), Richmond - a 3rd space for the asian-american community ft karaoke, boba, massage, bookstore, restaurants, etc.. Spent a lot of time frolicking with friends in the parking lot here.
📍Jack London Square - Oakland’s only publicly accessible mixed-use waterfront and marina area ft outdoor movies, farmers markets, coffee shops live music & dining. Check out The Fat Lady, Yoshi's, & Timeless Coffee.
📍Music & Theater Venues: Greek Theater, Joaquin Miller Community Center, Grand Lake Theater, Landmark's Piedmont Theatre, amongst my favorite!
📍Caffe Strada - Lots of studying done here back in the day. Right next to UC Berkeley and is filled with students, professors, and locals ☕ great melting pot for serendipitous interactions
📍Brooklyn Basin - on 65 acres of formerly inaccessible industrial land, the new community hub features open-air parks, artist residences, local shops/eateries, and "Township Commons" - a space for live music and community events.
📍Blue Willow Teaspot - A 1-women labor of love - every year, Ali travels to Asia to meet with tea farmers and search for exciting new teas to bring home and share. Get their tea flight and cuddle with a book in their relaxing lounge 🍵
☕ los angeles third spaces
📍Village Well Books - a bookstore-café that explores social causes. Currently, they're focused on the criminal justice system reform as it disportionately targets people of color.
📍Navel - a "test Site for kinship" via co-created experimental spaces, performances, & resources for LA artists & cultural workers.
📍Tea at Shiloh - a late night teahouse + community. A peaceful space to connect with yourself and others through tea + conversation, music, and creative + contemplative events.
📍 Wi Spa - a 24-hour korean-style spa. They have a communal Women’s floor, Men’s floor, co-ed Family-Friendly jimjilbapng, and rooftop terrace - for many folks to overlap and meet.
📍The Beehive - is the nation’s first campus for Opportunity Zone Businesses. 92K sq ft of commercial space ft the first Black-owned craft brewery in California, art gallery for South LA emerging creatives, and a state-of-the-art Technology and Entrepreneurship Center.
📍Volunteer run bike co-ops - Bicycle Kitchen on Fountain & Bikerowave on Venice. Get an affordable used bike or hang out and learn how to fix anything. Nobody turned away for lack of funds.
📍LA Farmers' Markets - Nearly every neighborhood has one. Santa Monica Wednesday, Mar Vista Sunday, Hollywood Famer's market, Farmer’s Market at Third and Fairfax, etc.
📍First floor at The Proper hotel in Santa Monica - so beautifully designed!
📍Coffee shops as the usual suspects: Verve Coffee in Arts District
📍Sightglass in WeHo
📍Coffee MCO in Ktown (open late)
📍 @reparationsclub - a concept bookshop + creative space that is black-owned and women-owned. It's a space that transforms into whatever the community needs it to be - from protest organizing to new moon circles, to just a chill place for the community to hang out.