It’s so easy these days to get lost in what we have to do at home and at work. But the use of civic spaces, where we can share stories and build relationships with new people and solidify our connections with old friends, represent an important way of exposing ourselves to new ideas and advancing the common good.

The power of civic spaces and their importance to our lives is a theme that runs strongly through the Fall 2013 issue of The Journal, from a photo essay about the Symphony of the Flint Hills (see gallery below) to profiling efforts to revitalize downtowns. And with good reason. Last month brought the Grand Opening of the Kansas Leadership Center & Kansas Health Foundation Conference Center, a gathering spot for the common good where Kansans learn how to work more effectively at making their communities healthier. The center also serves as KLC’s headquarters, with an open-office staff area designed to foster collaboration.

In the Fall Journal, writer Patsy Terrell profiles civic spaces throughout the state, ranging from a small-town café to a big-city bookstore. These places add novelty, perspective, spiritial tonic and friendship to our lives, in the view of sociologist Ray Oldenburg, and they encourage us to think more broadly about the common good.

We also don’t have to rely solely on others to create civic space. We can create them ourselves by putting up things like “little free libraries,” which allow people to pick up and donate books as they wish from someone’s front yard.

All of this isn’t to say that we should lose sight of the anchors we have at home and work. But it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities for enriching ourselves by carving out just a bit of space for the “third space” in our lives.


Thousands attended this summer’s Symphony in the Flint Hills. (all photos by Jeff Tuttle)


Kids could try out musical instruments like drums and trombones at a “petting zoo.”


The Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard performed at the symphony.


People enjoyed the event in their own ways, be it watching or napping.