Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"The Great Good Place"

When I asked Greg Shannon, owner of the Elgin Public House, about participating in Walkabout: Theater on your Feet, he was quick with his answer: "Let's do it."

That type of attitude has made the Public House stand out since it opened in 2007.

This old style building with its exposed brick walls has quickly become a neighborhood hangout.

Its a place to get a drink, some food, watch a game, or listen to a band. I know of many Elgin theater companies that have had their casts stop by after a show for a drink. They may also get one of their famous mini-pub burgers, or both.

Usually, when you enter the Public House, you'll see Greg or Lou Gramm (she's his partner) greet you at the door. When they're not in, you can find Joe behind the bar, or any one of the servers greet you with a smile and a kind word.

This is what makes the Public House a welcoming "third-place." What's a "third place" you ask? According to author Ray Oldenburg, who wrote the book "The Great Good Place," it is a term used in the concept of community building.

In his book, Oldenburg calls one's "first place" the home and those that one lives with. The "second place" is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. "Third places," then, are "anchors" of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction.

Oldenburg continues by saying a true "third place" usually has inexpensive food and drink, is highly accessible, involves regulars and is welcoming and comfortable.

In a nutshell, that's the Public House: laid-back and comfortable - a place where people know your name. Does that sound familiar?

The Elgin Public House will be hosting Nothing Special Productions when it performs "The Surprise Party" for Walkabout. You can learn more about the Public House at

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