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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

These are a few third places that I cherish greatly. Except for theaters, these are places that don’t necessarily require money for access or exploration. 

The third place is a space for community and connection outside the home and work/school places. Navigating and existing in these spaces with our own sense of being and wandering builds connection. There is the phenomenon of crown shyness, where trees’ leaves and branches never touch, yet they grow together and share the space. They don’t have to physically interact to belong in the collective and know that they aren’t alone. 

These are a few third places that I cherish greatly. Except for theaters, these are places that don’t necessarily require money for access or exploration. 

Independent Bookstores

Bookstores often host events such as author readings, book clubs, open mics and more. The Robin Books, for instance, is a tiny bookstore inside The Robin Theater, and they host an open mic every month. It’s an inspiring space, even if you choose to only listen to people read and perform their work. There is the fierce awareness that we are all so beautifully, painfully human. I am softened through witnessing the vulnerability shared in that gentle and open space. 

Even if it is your first time walking into an independent bookstore, you are made to feel like a familiar. You’re greeted with warm and open faces, and the floorboards bend beneath your feet, welcoming you into the soft space. 

Some Independent Bookstores in the East Lansing / Greater Lansing Area:

Curious Book Shop

Hooked

The Robin Books

Wayfaring Booksellers

A Novel Concept 

Libraries

Public libraries offer many events and opportunities as well. They have author readings, clubs relating to books and other niche interests, and a variety of events to directly engage with the community. They’re a great place to borrow books and other resources such as technology and sewing supplies, allowing you to explore a variety of curiosities. 

Everyone and everything is there at once. Their voices and sounds mingle together- the old man softly grunting as he moves up from the couch, the children giggling in the corner, the clicking of keys, and pages being flipped – unsynchronized – between aisles. Comforting murmurs and soft laughter permeates the air. I carry it all, along with a few titles from the shelves. 

Theaters

One of my great joys this year has been going to the movie theaters with my friends and roommates. These viewing experiences are filled in a space with people who are eager, curious, and emotive. The collective emotion shared – gasps, laughter, silence – is so wonderful and powerful. 

Once the credits begin rolling and the lights turn back on, our awareness is sharpened, and we sit for a moment in awe. We then slowly wander the hallways, moving towards the exit. Pushing the door open, we are gently enveloped by the darkness of night. We fill the car, moving our cherry red tongues against the roof of our mouths as we rapidly analyze and talk about what we just watched. The experience is shared. It is something carried by everyone, and we will soon open to the soft glow of morning. 

These are a few third places you can explore that require little to no money. Wander through the community by yourself or with your friends. Move from bookstore to bookstore, browsing the selections and pointing out titles that are on your to-be-read list. Go to the library, get a free library card, and borrow books you’re curious about. Enter the movie theater and let your excitement dance with everyone else’s.

Bella is a fourth year student at Michigan State majoring in Apparel and Textiles with a cognate in English. She is the Social Media Director for Her Campus at MSU, celebrating and uplifting members through various platforms. Bella is also the Secretary for the Creative Writing Club at MSU. She is a lover of art, poetry, literature, film, music, and nature. As a writer and artist, understanding and analyzing art as a reflection of society and a mode for social change is something that fascinates them.