Sense of Place

Communities need opportunities to celebrate themselves and their connection to place.

Celebration is a profound response to the magnificence of the mountains and rivers, creatures large and small, sun and moon, storm and clearing which define the rhythms of life in our chosen place. It binds community and ecosystem, reminding us of our ancient allegiances to the more-than-human domain.

A sense of place takes many forms: annual festivals, fairs, gatherings; rituals; paintings, sculpture, and site art; gardens; local currencies and trading Systems; restaurants featuring regional and seasonal cuisine; crafts using local materials; buildings reflecting the changing seasons; songs, stories, and dances; plays and poetry; community bookstores, coffeehouses, and gathering places; essays and novels. A sense of place is built on acts as humble as a ramble in the woods or as grand as a day of Longhouse feasting.

A sense of place is universal to all cultures, with expressions reflecting the full range of cultural diversity. It can be created in the heart of a city as well as in the heart of the wild. Examples include the annual Procession of the Species, when people decorate themselves as native species like salmon, cedar, and red-winged blackbird; the Wild Olympic Salmon event interpreting the natural history of salmon on the Olympic Peninsula; and Portland's Natural Building Convergence bringing earth builders together with community members to construct five cob sculptures in public areas.

A sense of place is also nourished by bioregional media sources — newspapers, magazines, websites, CD-ROMs, radio, and television — that cover the cultures and landscapes of a particular region. Such media tell the stories of local people and places, valuing them, honoring their complexities, creating opportunities to connect with them. They may be fast or slow, sophisticated or homespun. Bioregional media can help build local economies, honor cultural diversity, and provide access to knowledge.

Tidepool.org is a bioregional website which is devoted solely to news from the coastal temperate rainforest. Every weekday morning the website is updated with the day's breaking news, drawn from dozens of newspapers, periodicals, and on-line sources. The Inforain.org website complements Tidepool.org by providing a visual and data-rich information system for the same region. Inforain.org is a site to generate maps of one's home watershed on-line, to examine the status of local salmon stocks, to query a database of regional conservation groups, or to browse a wide range of spatial data layers and maps.

Bioregional media like Tidepool.org and Inforain.org, while nascent, hint at the kinds of media that can support local cultures and local economies.

Encourage the sense of place in a variety ways, from regional presses and publications, to restaurants featuring seasonal local food, to public gatherings. Support bioregional media sources that provide coverage of local cultures and landscapes.


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