May 16, 2003

Words About Place

There is an interesting thread developing along the lines of the previous post about Place-oriented Weblogs.

Pica of Feathers of Hope observes that this is more about attitude than location, and an intimacy with one's place can be found even in an urban setting.

Chris Corrigan of Bowen Island Journal describes how an island home influences his sense of place, and points to a Barry Lopez essay on the literature of place.

Lisa of Field Notes describes the tension between the need for freedom in her environment and the need to find solace from it and from community centered in some way by their common connections to place.

And at Cassandra Pages, the author works her thoughts around what 'place' is all about, and I think speaks for many of us, stating that everything she writes is about place, if you see the world through that set of lenses, which she describes.

UPDATE Saturday 17 May 2003...

Chris Corrigan adds to the discussion with another perfect quote from Barry Lopez who suggests that our expression of attachment to and meaning from place may represent a "fundamental defense to human loneliness".

Sainteros wonders about crossing the divide between the ideal of place and its reality, with Goose Creek as an example, he being in a small number of Fragments readers who has stepped through the looking glass of words and been for a time in 'our place'. He wonders if blogs about place can build bridges others can cross, or is the divide too vast for technology to span?

We'd be happy to hear your thoughts. If you have or know someone who has posted related items, please comment, trackback or email to continue this discussion!

Posted by fred1st at May 16, 2003 06:29 AM | TrackBack

I've been thinking this lately -- how most people assume the suburbs are a soulless "no-place" and how, if you really pay attention, they can be really funny and touching and inspiring. You have to know where to look.

But few people bother to look because of the cultural stereotypes.

Posted by: Cody at May 16, 2003 10:26 AM

All these links are great reads. As an inner urban dweller I relate more to Pica's described landscape than those forest-dwellers or islanders or lucky inhabitants of the "picturesque". (I love reading of these places of course!)I like the idea that the sense of place is also interior, and indeed a temporal as well as geographical experience. One of the distinguishing features of the geoblog is the love of place - and perhaps the challenge for us city dwellers is to observe and celebrate the physical beauty of urban spaces, the familiar, the overlooked and local . I read an interesting article on this idea of "Urban Bush" in city fringe Sydney
about researching/reclaiming this spirit of place.
The author, Dr Susan Murphy has the quote: "Nobody lives somewhere in general"

Posted by: boynton at May 16, 2003 10:35 AM

Great comments, Cody and Boynton. Do you know John Stilgoe's book, Outside Lies Magic? He's a professor at Harvard of landscape history, but when he takes his students out to explore (exploring, for him, takes on an almost sacramental quality) even "non-picturesque" places -- abandoned railway tracks, for example -- and what these altered landscapes tell us about our past and our relationship with the landscape, he really seems to catch this spirit for me. His ideal exploring vehicle is a bicycle, mostly because you can go at a constant 11 miles per hour, a speed that allows you to see easily into people's slatted fences that are otherwise completely opaque if you're walking or driving.

Place, as Beth at Cassandra Pages points out, really does involve wearing a certain set of lenses. Mostly, it sort of means just opening your eyes.

Posted by: Pica at May 16, 2003 11:24 AM

Fred, and others, just wanted to let you that I posted a rather long piece this morning on this topic.

Posted by: sainteros at May 17, 2003 05:02 PM

"Outside Lies Magic" looks great.

Posted by: boynton at May 18, 2003 10:09 AM

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