Establish and support gathering places that can adequately serve as a “third place” to residents in all communities.

The Brookings Institution lovingly refers to third places as the “living rooms of our communities.” These places offer space to gather, chat, share, and commune and can take a number of forms from coffee shops to cafes to recreation centers. Importantly, though, third places are considered the building blocks of great communities. They bring us together, create parity, and democratize the lived experience in ways that few other institutions can do.

In both Jasper and Newton counties, third places are hard to come by and aren’t diverse or dispersed enough to serve our many small communities. Third places of the past have given way to automation and e-commerce, and adequate replacements haven’t grown to fill the niche. More functional zoning, incentivizing, and better community communications will help us promote third places. As we drive forward our home, we must certainly give it an adequate living room.

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