Last Thursday a group of thirteen community members concluded their study circle titled, Discovering a Sense of Place with a celebration potluck at the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall. The group has been meeting on Thursday nights at the First Congregational Church since mid-December to discuss readings from their workbooks designed by the Northwest Earth Institute. This particular course focused on how to develop a strong sense of place and use that sense of grounding toward making a positive impact in your community.
The course goals of Discovering a Sense of Place are to understand the meaning of a “bioregional perspective”, to consider the benefits of consciously developing an intimate relationship with your place, and to explore what it might mean to protect the place where you live. This seven-session course is organized chronologically by the following topics/chapters:
1. A Sense of Place: Wendell Berry, America’s best-known bioregionalist, says if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are. With a sense of place, your identity is defined—to a significant extent—by the natural features of the place where you live;
2. Responsibility to Place: there is a difference between living on the land and dwelling in it—understanding its rhythms, its potential, and its limits. Those who develop intimacy with a place over time tend to accept responsibility for it;
3. Knowing Your Bioregion: Your bioregion is a unique place with its own watershed, soils, climate, plants, animals, and history. How much do you know about it?;
4. Living in Place: Living in place means consciously trying to satisfy your needs and find your pleasures in your local bioregion and working to assure the long-term health of the bioregion;
5. Mapping Your Place: Mapping can be learned by local groups and individuals to give a new sense of place. Whereas a typical map shows political subdivisions and transportation routes, a bioregionalist’s map delineates regions based on watersheds, climate, and plant types, thereby helping people relate to their natural surroundings;
6. Building Local Community: A bioregionalist assumes responsibility for the health and continuity of a place, not only its natural features, but also the social bonds of its people;
7. Empowerment: Knowing a place can inspire and empower one to take action to preserve it or take part in its restoration. How important is individual and group action in modern society?
The Northwest Earth Institute, with it’s NH sister organization, the Granite Earth Institute, have developed a great format for people to come together to learn about social and/or environmental issues in a relaxed, yet inquisitive and proactive, atmosphere. This is the fourth study circle that G.A.L.A. has facilitated in the Wolfeboro-area and planning for the next study circle on Local Foods is already underway, so stay tuned!