Sense of Place Series – Introduction

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What is the essence of a place? What makes your town, your state, your country unique to you and those who live or visit?  This sense of place fascinates me and I find myself exploring this idea in the way I look at the world. You could say capturing place is my creative muse.

As I write this I sit in a Stumptown Coffee House in Portland, Oregon, USA, in the early morning hour before the work day.  Perhaps this time and place is routine for some, but I cherish this moment to explore the sense of place right here.

At this hour it is delivery trucks, runners, and the early shift change at the hospital two blocks away.  Overalls and scrubs, running tights and the occasional dog, all line up for their morning coffee. The baristas all have a story that speaks to this place – most hold two jobs – one that pays the bills, the other that feeds their passion.

Like many of us who love travel, I love the idea of exploring a new place and discovering and learning something new and exciting.  But we don’t need to travel far or even travel at all to explore sense of place.

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This is the first post of what I hope is a long exploration of sense of place – here in Portland – my home town, in the great state of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, the western United States and if I am lucky – farther afield.

I invite you to explore your home town with the same curiosity.  I would love to hear what makes your town unique and what is the “sense of place” where you are right now.

Thank you for reading and for joining me on this journey.

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What now?

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I intended to write an entry yesterday – but as the afternoon and evening progressed it felt so shattering and so life changing that I didn’t know how to put words to what was happening.  For better or worse it was an historic night and I couldn’t stop watching.

So what now?  I am an inherently positive person but for the first time in my life – I was up all night – depressed and unsure how to face this new world where I have to say that Donald Trump is my country’s president.

All I could think of to do – was be as positive as I can be and to give back.  Volunteer more, help young women so that some day they can lead our country to get over this sexism we seem to posses. Help preserve the natural areas here in Oregon – whether through donations, time, photography, whatever helps to save these precious lands for the public and not in the hands of corporations.  Greet each day with a smile and with gratitude.  Not stop fighting for equality and fairness for all our citizens.

I can’t give up on this country, on my country (for better or worse).  On my way home to watch the election returns last night I was watching the afternoon light.  I saw the sun hitting the side of the above building in downtown Portland and just as I took the picture I saw those words “United States of America”.   In the words of the historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin – “history will give us solace”.   I hope so.