The South Whidbey Commons

A place for people of all ages to gather, learn and grow.


What causes people to form an emotional connection to the place where they live? Gallup and the Knight Foundation conducted a study to find out and interviewed nearly 43,000 people in 26 communities in the process. They discovered that the number one driver for attachment is social offerings, which includes a strong entertainment infrastructure and a sense of community caring. Their “Soul of the Community” study affirms the role that the South Whidbey Commons plays on our island: it contributes to our community’s sense of soul.

In colonial times, the “Commons” was an area generally located in the center of a small agricultural community that was held in trust by all and used for the common good. The commons served as the social, cultural, and economic center of a  town. In our community, that purpose is served by the South Whidbey Commons, a nonprofit organization that was born of the collaboration of hundreds of people who wanted to create a place to gather, connect, and belong.

The Third Place

Marimba Music

In his book, The Great Good Place, urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg observed that, in addition to their home and workplace, human beings need a “third place,” a public place where people of all ages and interests can enjoy one another’s company. Examples of third places include coffee houses, cafés, and bookstores. Oldenburg writes, “. . . when the good citizens of a community find places to spend pleasurable hours with one another for no specific or obvious purpose, there is purpose to such association. Further, the most important of the purposes or functions served by informal public gathering places cannot be supplied by any other agencies in the society.”

The mission of the South Whidbey Commons is to provide an intentional third place for the community to gather. The space, programs, volunteer- and job training opportunities are designed to build community and create connections. It’s a place to meet friends and make new ones.


“I’m thankful for the Commons because of the community it gave me. It really helped me to blossom into the person I wanted to be. For the first time, I felt like I belonged somewhere, and I’ll always treasure those memories. It gave me a haven from a bad home life, so that I never wanted to leave! I’m thankful for the healthy environment of The Commons. Although I never totally confided about it, the Commons changed my life.”

A volunteer barista


“I am grateful for the incredible staff and the drive towards ultimate teamwork at the Commons Coffeehouse, and the friendly environment that the Commons provides.”

A volunteer barista and Friday Night Live performer


“I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know so many new and wonderful people through my work with the SWC. I’ve met inspirational and talented teens, 20-somethings, many in the middle, and 80-year-olds I can’t keep up with! I am truly blessed.”

A member of the South Whidbey Commons board of directors