Public life brings us together in common activity: cheering on the school sports team, enjoying Sunday dinner at a favorite restaurant, shopping at a local store. In these public spaces we conduct business, swap recipes, discuss issues of the day, relax with friends, and welcome newcomers to town. Public life knits together the diverse elements of a community and fosters a sense of civic responsibility. But longer job commutes, greater popularity of home entertainment, and online shopping mean more time spent privately and fewer opportunities to get together. To retain vitality, communities must continually nurture their traditional gathering places and invent fresh opportunities to enjoy the company of others.