Make a Sense of Place Map
What is your deepest connection to the natural world around you? Your heart-based connection to the world around you? Your community in the way it is meaningful to you? Map your local area and find out!
What does this mean? It means allowing yourself to draw your locale without too much concern about mapping techniques, and to put in things that are important to you.
My map included my bird feeders. On my driveway it included a beautiful oak tree that I adore looking at in all seasons. It also included a pine that is dying, and I worry that the weakness in the local pines is due to global warming. Nearby is a neighbor’s house with people I am attached to, so I added their house, which is about 1/2 a mile away.
After the highlights around my house, there wasn’t much between my home and town, which is 5 miles away (outside of a pretty road that I like to take because it is a good shortcut to another town), but once the map drawing reached my town I had more spots of interest–friends houses, the playground near the school I spent time at with my daughter, a bench I’ve spent time sitting on with friends, the farmers’ market spot, that sort of thing.
The exercise left me with a bit of a stark realization, that I don’t have the deep sense of place that I had about where I grew up in NH, where every curve in the road had a story for me. I’ve kept myself aloof, disconnected in a way to this town I moved to in 1992, and I don’t have much of a sense of anchoring here. Is this a typical result of modern society’s rootlessness? I moved here because of my husband’s job, not because it was a choice per se. Yet I have more attachment to a place we go for vacation in the summer, and that is only one week a year.
As a result of the exercise I plan to put my heart into the area and see what map I would make a year from now. I saw starkly my roots haven’t gone down, yet this is where I live, I expect to live, and have lived for 17 years.