Invited to speak at the concluding round table of the international conference organised by the French Development Agency on French and African cultural third places, the philosopher Gabrielle Halpern praised third places as weak signals of a trend towards hybridisation of the world to come.
Extract: "What if tomorrow all places were third places? We are indeed seeing hotels develop into artists' residences, restaurants transform into cookery schools, railway stations into art exhibitions, bookshops into salons, farms into playgrounds, shops into cultural spaces, schools into outreach grocery shops.
Gradually, these places are becoming unifying landmarks within local areas, showing up as weak signals of a trend towards hybridisation of our world, and we should be happy about that! Yes, there are other ways of approaching the world than putting it into boxes; things, professions, activities, people, uses, intentions, imaginations, generations, identities, interests, that are radically different, even contradictory, can be intertwined, and from this can be born extraordinary creativity and new solidarities!
Not to mention that third places are schools for learning about otherness and are laboratories for experimenting with new methods, new ways of meeting and cooperating...
This trend towards the hybridisation of places will force public policies, standards and regulations - based on a sectoral and categorical vision of society - to reinvent themselves from top to bottom. The great challenge will then be to work relentlessly to ensure that there is not simply a juxtaposition of activities, generations, uses, professions and audiences, but a genuine hybridisation of all these worlds" (Gabrielle Halpern, "Let's all be centaurs! A celebration of hybridisation", Le Pommier).