This article was written by Grace, Fiandaca, a regular contributor to Be Brave. Lose the Beige.
I need to know my place
better. In fact, we all need to pay more attention to where we belong. No, I’m
not wistful over the strict social stratification of Downton Abbey or longing
for a return to the rigid roles of the antebellum South. I’m talking about
cultivating a sense of place, an identity with a region–its culture, history,
and natural environment.
Maybe that sounds as
old-fashioned as black and white TVs with rabbit ears, but the truth is as we
move into the future we face the need to create and sustain healthier local
communities, economies and natural environments. A sense of place is an
essential part of ensuring this happens. We also need it for ourselves as
My home is in Central
Florida, where the land is flat and the ocean is less than an hour away.
Walking along the Atlantic coast soothes my psyche in a way that nothing else
can. I’ve been playing by, swimming in, walking along, and bringing my big
questions to that same stretch of ocean and sand since I was a little girl. The
only vacations we ever took when I was growing up were to New Smyrna Beach. I
can’t imagine not living within ready access to that spot.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting
that we shun our love of travel and exploration. Two weeks ago I hiked in the
mountains of North Carolina. Taking in the magnificent rush of waterfalls in
all their glorious beauty, and the wondrous bright red, orange, and gold of
autumn leaves dancing in the sunlight, was an experience I will always cherish.
Such activities broaden our scope and renew our spirits.
But we need to anchor
ourselves to some particular spot on this earth. Oak trees put down deep roots
which nourish them. Their powerful roots give them the undergirding strength
and stability to weather almost anything. We need our deep roots too.
Mead Gardens, a few acres of
natural habitat in my hometown, might not impress tourists who have seen more
sprawling and breathtaking natural preserves. But it is a sanctuary, connecting
me to my personal history. It whispers in the crackle of leaves beneath my feet
as I walk over the footbridge I crossed nearly fifty years ago. I hear it in
the burble of the creek that runs beside the outdoor amphitheater where my
husband and I were married sixteen years ago. I experience the surge of
connectedness as I see the new plantings around the Winter Park Garden Club
building where I attended meetings, one of three generations of my family who were
Professor of American
Studies Kent Ryden tells us, “A sense of
place results gradually and unconsciously from inhabiting a landscape over
time, becoming familiar with its physical properties, accruing history within
It takes time. Our
fast-paced, quick results-oriented culture is out of sync with this less expedient
way of learning. Yet this is exactly how human babies acquire their native
language—through experience and immersion. Turns out, it’s the most natural,
effective way humans learn.
Novelist Wallace Stegner
writes: “Some are born in their place,
some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the
one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made
a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef.”
While I can brag that I l
live within four miles of my hometown, it wasn’t a conscious choice. Still, I’m
grateful to be where I am. At this juncture of my life, I want to learn more
about the history and geography of where I live; participate more in my community;
experience more of my natural surroundings; contribute to the collective story.
I invite you to get to know
the place you call home and spend more time in nature, or find that place where
you feel a deep, timeless connection and learn about it; experience it
firsthand. Place matters.
Liz Kitchens and Jackie Sorensen are the founders of
Be Brave. Lose the Beige. They conduct
workshops and retreats focusing on relevant issues facing Lady Boomers (women
of the Baby Boomer generation). We
welcome women to become a part of our Be
Brave. Lose the Beige community. Click here to join our mailing list – http://tinyurl.com/m8qtefu or visit our website at http://www.bebravelosethebeige.com. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.