Monday, February 28, 2011


I was browsing the bookstore shelves the other day, not really looking for anything in particular when I noticed a book called 1000 Awesome Things. It's about ordinary, everyday things that happen to us and are easy to take for granted but when one stops and thinks about it are, well, awesome. I briefly leafed through the book and one that caught my attention was one of my favorite things "finding $5 in a jacket you hadn't worn for a while." The book is about reflecting on the positive little things that can help you smile in spite of yourself.

Seems to me that the idea is similar to the sense-of-place approach of intentionally thinking about what's great about your place, going out of your way to interact with those special features of your place and encouraging others to do likewise.

When encouraging others to think about a topic, we teachers often use prompts. If I were trying to get students to think about their places, I might use a prompt such as "What special feature of our region do you find yourself visiting most often? What draws you there? How do you feel different when you're there?"

Sometimes these prompts can become community projects. Historical conservancies in the UK have prompted people to think about their place by using an ABC approach -- A is for _____, B is for _____, etc. a picture/icon and perhaps a short bit of text (for examples, see . The result is a professionally done book or poster with contributions from local residents of that place. The posters are then displayed around town and offered for sale, with the proceeds going to the conservancy. Another approach I seen used is a map based on residents' personal points of interests they want to share. Similarly, a timeline -- a map in time -- could show individuals' thought on events of general interest. The 1000 Awesome Things idea could be a prompt: "think of 5 awesome things about our place" and a collection of such things would make a nice overview of what people see in their place. While the poster is meant to be displayed around town and offered for sale, the other prompt-based projects would be naturals for user-contributed ("Web 2.0") sites.

I'd be interested in seeing examples of these kinds of web sites. Thanks in advance for sharing such examples.

You know, is it OK to post comments on this blog...

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