Friday, March 26, 2010

Negative space

When I think of sense-of-place, I think of positive emotional attachment to our places. In my work in conservation and community sustainability (and even in my work in public health), I see how a positive sense of place can motivate people to work toward conserving what’s good about their places.

But what if your place is not good? What if your place is toxic from chemical contaminants? Or had its landscape disjointed beyond recognition through mountain top removal?

You’d need a sense of some other place or of your place in the past. But you’d especially need a strong sense of your place in the future and the optimism to get you there to motivate you to build your place up not just from scratch but from scratch minus. It'd be too easy to give up on a place.

Some of us get to choose where we live and pick nice spots. Some don’t get to choose. It takes one kind of activism to keep a nice place nice and another kind of activism to restore a place from damaged-beyond-recognition to nice. I think I’m more the first type. I’m glad there are others out there of the second type.

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