Knowing your place is easy if it is personal. Do and learn with it what you want because ‘landscape is the work of the mind’ which all my referenced literature refers to! Knowing a place in particular is different as it might not be something autonomous. Knowing place is challenging because it requires an intuition of interpreting meaning and establishments of places with mysteries that lay below the landscape. Consider the 17th and 18th century English landscape which depicts only a particular representation of place (country houses and parks) (Hoskins, 1955). This causes constructs through philosophy and anthropology that consider spaces becoming a place. Construing London versus the Lake District; two diversely distinct places, humans through romantic writing and economic globalization have influenced the scaffold of perception (Hoskins, 1955). Places are ambiguously changing through environment and culture both documented and professed or unsighted and lost. This perplexes the unaware and uninterested about the age of an old British pub, the construction might be 400 years old but the design influences trace further back. These places of solitude and remnant artifacts carry age and place composition.
My place is of sensibility with a common trend found in mutual societies. This place cannot be exclusive because it is a place that many people experience, therefore I do not own it and so call it our place. Found elsewhere I settle on it being a plurality as our places. People bring with them ideas and imported education of landscape representations (Wattchow & Brown, 2011) to collective establishments.
Our places will be in a location on the boundaries and peripheries of a green environment nature park and urban industrial township. This will be in The United Kingdom; Bowness Bay; Glebe Road and A592 Promenade Lake Road Junction; 54.362174-2.922723. At this position you have within a 100 metre vicinity: ferries, Hotels, greenspace park, Cafés/Shops, Recreational Water, four road directions, flora and fauna, footpaths and signs to name a few. Here exists a super-modernity of excessive information and space that Augé (2009) ensures will enlighten us.
Evolving this place started in my brain and no doubt that of others. It can never be a non-place in absolute terms because individual identity is framed relative to otherness (Augé, 2009).
Places make us and we make them as sources of identity (Wattchow & Brown, 2011). In a pure sense, the Greenspace Park found here was part of a larger ecological biosphere with no human formed barriers. Spatiality suggests that this was never a place until human invention.
Defining a place in the simplest sense is to afford meaning and establishment to a space. If you don’t know where you are you don’t know who you are (Wattchow & Brown, 2011). This loosely spoken, I contend that we know where we are not and that we know we are nomadic or homeless! Social policies strive for social inclusion through psychological help. This bases problems of not knowing place which neglects the complexities and excessive social networks we live in (Scanlon & Adlam, 2013). Because Bowness Park has a name and distinguishes as a ‘park’ highlights the otherness and separation from what once was. The size and mass of Windermere has not changed other than its thermocline, clarity, purity, meaning and use. Contrast this to the Bowness Bay/Glebe public greenspace park. What made the park into the size it is today is because of industrialization. What has saved it getting any smaller is the romantic period.
With mass integration of construction, cultural hybridization and plans of dwelling in such places, one is overwhelmed with how such a place came to be and what it now means to them. Place needs to consider all complexities and intricacies beyond what might otherwise be romanticized (Convery, Corsane & Davis, 2012). Using someone’s (possessive) place (distinction) begins with establishment and meaning, introduced and interacted on through birth and embodiment. What draws one away from this stage is separating locality into others (becoming places) and sharing place (my-yours-ours…).
Evolving in this place as history has shown, we like to share our places and afterwards need to explain them through knowing and theorizing often in prescriptive and modulated ways. Modernity and post-modernity has caused the engineering and instrumentality of place. This lineage from what we can learn of ourselves and give to nature has taken a turn towards what we can know of nature and give to ourselves. Man [sic] was a part of nature now an exploiter of nature (Schama, 1995). Such places have led to perceptual disjointed industrial sites of nowhere non-places (supermarkets, cinemas & computers). These are found in most populated places where one can be lost physically, temporally or spatially (Augé, 2009).
This sees the potential future of our places and even in the aforementioned place project a confused and contested landscape of space. With individuals consuming, possessing, regulating, fixing boundaries and making different meanings of landscape, perhaps our places will become complicated.
Furthermore they are becoming places of ethical contestation of integrated individuals. Some Aboriginals originating from the outback of Australia have segregated into cities. Deposed indigenous cultures claim and reinhabit (see Gruenewald, 2008) public places as spatial identities (Pieris, 2012). Questioning the status quo that spreads habitation and right of access to any person in a city leads to decisions about dwelling in an aboriginally unorthodox way. Facilities for Indigenous communities are invariably designed by non-Indigenous architects and shaped by the profession’s privileges by which struggles are politicized. In the city Aboriginals juxtapose modernity. Showcasing tactic communes in a poverty perceived way has attracted surveillance and otherwise had them removed from the public gaze. Resistantly responsive, an Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra was erected to echo voice throughout the city.
A way to embrace landscape could be to settle them within moral and mindful places rooted in indigenous knowing. I witnessed this through a company named Woodsmoke in the United Kingdom. They pride themselves in such practices of indigenous knowing through places rich in all facets of specialization and transcendent inhabitation. Place refers to experiences of embodied and cultural interpretations restoring indigenous cultures, looking at connections between land and ecology; the former sustains the latter (Wattchow & Brown, 2011).
Two examples of appropriated positioning show how placement and naturalization afford dolphins in the ocean and Fish and Chips in Britain. Place the dolphins in a torrent river and a fish and chip shop in a landlocked Asian country and it is clear to see tolerance but obvious dis-placement based on habitation and colonialization. Ecologically, we have evolved from immersion in nature to more urbanized or industrialized natures. Technology is consuming our attention while giving potential to ways in which we can interact with these natures. Also, time becomes less an issue where one can share in a place (Mount Everest Summit) without being there through communicating with a satellite phone while one receives this at home (Australia). This has been possible through political evolutions controlling economies of wealth, working-classes and societies. Psychogeography makes one cognitively aware of this mind-set and urban jungle life, but also resists it. Societal evolutions have come to realize this through individualization but also with others. These ideas of commune and support are prevalent in the literature (Wise, 2014; Spinney, 2006; Knapp, 2005; Jagger, 2013; Gruenewald, 2008; Bennett, 2015).
On my module we had to share places as part of our study. Interestingly, we had visited our own places within a place (Ambleside town). Most memorable for me was visiting some new places but mostly the variable interpretation of places that I had already been to: reproduced by another person on my module. This reinforced my understanding of historical evolutions because in New Zealand I grew close to a rich nature environment with its fair share of urbanization and industrialization. Hearing my classmates stories of place, most of us shared this continuity from what we were born with and have come to be comfortable in. Those that chose a place depicted by nature and was in its purest sense natural was something consistent with their life.
Deviations will occur in our places by enablers (funding, population, access & geo-societal closeness) and variables (weather, capacity & continental nearness). Between these opportunities and barriers draws me to consider my underlying assumptions about our places and for my landscape interpretation project. My audience might already firmly place themselves so I wonder how I will strengthen and engage these places with them. I have chosen to engage and transcend people’s experiences with efforts to dilute the viscous transitions between urban and natural establishments.
Exercising the experience and landscape.
The location that I chose gave me a rich opportunity to engage with passersby. I politely gained their attention by making a joke that they were lost. They asked me for my justification by which I said they have just come back from a fell walk and should be in a pub with a pint and packet of crisps. Alternatively, they looked as though they should be fell walking. This view based on their appearance gave them insight into my judgement of them that they appreciatively understood. Fortunately, I received their time and began to explain my interpretation of their placement.
These people were a family: Mum, Dad, two young children and a Grandparent.
I kept my aims brief and simple, telling them that I wanted to increase their engagement and understanding of a place and its transitions of boundaries. The objective was having them walk away feeling a sense of awareness about fringes as a portal between problems of urban and nature as well as place departures and arrivals.
The planning for this landscape learning uses one of Mannion, Fenwick, Nugent and LÁnsons (2011) typology of place-responsiveness: place sensitive teaching plans (noticing environment). Through talking and walking, these mediums based five human senses for delivery. Stage one was to have them show me where they came from, this I did not directly state nor expect to be physical. They showed me on their ‘smart’ phones that they had come from Keswick. For stage two they had to draw me a map of where they came from to where they thought they are without technology; I gave them stationery. Stage three had them kinesthetically reenact the mobility of their arrival between these places, which was driving. Stage four had them separately and secretively write a top three list of reasons they chose this mobility. They shared these collectively showing that time pressure, access and appeal had them choose this. For stage five I had them share with someone by explaining or reproducing the sensuous experiences during this mobility. They enjoyed this idea which I called pedagogy of play. Stage six had them find or point out (in)animate things about the environment where they are based, knowing that they can move in any direction and choose what to do. I founded this on Manion, Fenwick and Lynch (2013) who state that “place-responsive pedagogy involves explicitly teaching by-means-of-an-environment with the aim of understanding and improving human-environment relations” (p.804).
Feedback from my audience had them fascinated about the thoughtfulness behind what was for them an everyday instance. The young children enjoyed the practicality of drawing a map and were stimulated by the sensuous reproduction. Comments from the grandmother addressed different perspectives from her grandchildren, the thoughts that I had helped and that of her own given what she brought to the place. The parents alerted an awareness of destination versus journeying. This place, after my time with them became a portal and opportunity towards elsewhere by exploring journeying between places that they neglect. They said that it is equally important to consider where they go, how they get there and what they feel along the way. The children spoke of enjoying the café they were going to because arriving tired from a walk gave them reason to enjoy their food and drink. The children said further that if journeying was stimulating they would sometimes talk about what it was they saw and gave reason to their feelings within place on arrival.
The family were intrigued with the idea of places within places. Using the earth as a place, I focused inwards to countries as smaller places, followed by major cities as popularized places that led to where they then stood. After this, I introduced the idea of a metaphorical and even imaginary place.
I responded philosophically and practically to landscape places as significant with signposts of place responsive pedagogy: being present in and with place, stories and narratives and apprenticing ourselves to place (embodied knowing) (Wattchow & Brown, 2011). I rearticulated an idea about park planning from Stewart and others (2007) in contexts of an urban-agricultural fringe and developing land as a metaphor for this family and place. This needed a transformation from a worked landscape (the experience) into land suitable for a park (the family). Distinct from wildland-urban links where planning is often about protecting what is, urban-agricultural contexts are about envisaging what should be. This gave reason for me bringing forth this families own outward projections of place. Stewart and others’ (2007) first principle of park development embodies public memories of landscape and provides the community ecology and cultural heritage. The families’ immediate genealogy provided a source of thick descriptions. The second principle allows for these memories to be based on community restoration; the children had needs that the elderly addressed. This I reinforced as an investment based on Stewart and other’s (2007) place-making being about nurturing that creates public value for the visions of a park (this family). Critical pedagogy of place considers ecological thinking, decolonization and reinhabitation as reflexive practice-why, where and what are we teaching for whom and when? (Gruenewald, 2008).
Reflecting on practice.
This reflexivity challenges my biased opinion, the choice of my place and the representation of such qualities. I draw from my experience joining Cumbria Universities Brathay module about experiential learning to support my exercise. This used theory based practice showcased during this course and inspired by Gruenewald (2008) that all educators should expand the scope of their theories. To this extent I integrated Knapp’s (2005) use of Aldo Leopold’s ways to look which encompass curiosity and inquisitive habits in various ways, where my idea of departure and destination surfaced.
Such scope had me expose my vulnerabilities by proving that I was to co-experience this place with them. Equality of experience requires an intervention that has terms and conditions to be accepted or not by the receiver (Scanlon & Adlam, 2013). Anyone not active in inclusion – as drifters – are actively excluding others and vice versa. Outside of my six-staged structure, I tried a side project based on interesting empirical study (Fini, Costantini & Committeri, 2014). This addressed perceiving near and far influences of an object or landmark from four visions: by self, with an object nearby, with a person nearby and then a model/dummy person (which I did not have). This offered ways to see the landscape and distract us but Fini, Costantini and Committeri (2014) say that near space is enhanced with a human and model/dummy. Humans located in the extrapersonal space could influence the self-centered, egocentric space classification. Here I found that only far objects were acknowledged through sight and further appreciated if closer. This family confirmed Fini, Costantini and Committeri’s (2014) study and also discovered the possibility of engaging the other senses mostly through close people and object interaction.
My place as a metropolis.
I know about different environments, especially the urban not pure enough to be raw nor humanly sufficient to lack constituent politics.
Cities offer a metaphor to my knowledge or ambition to know a place because they are towering and vast. Through breadth and depth of knowledge, like the shape of a city, I am positioned to be more mindful. This offers observations of dynamic novel ecosystems and the interactions of various complexities. If not in line with environmental purity, urbanity can provide a good contrast and density to study the oppositions and impacts on the environment. We can study how people remain in places, their departing motivations and boundary crossing into the other (Francis, Lorimer & Raco, 2012). My topic expertise expanded within reach of Bennett’s (2008) assertion about belonging being tangible/material/practical and sensing the belonging by being/movement/rhythmic which I was surprised by such an absolution. If belonging is taken for granted do people care about belonging? Bennett takes a pragmatic approach grounded routinely in daily life. Bennett’s article has shown how a particular form of ontological belonging can be practiced.
Participants’ knowledge of place.
Making sense of place is a multi-disciplinary concept understanding complex processes of defining ones interaction with nature (Convery, Corsanem & Davis, 2012). My exercise proved that this family could define boundaries and see the spatiality between. This led me to pursue research on neighborhoods as seen in Baltimore known as ‘a city of neighborhoods’. Opinions in these areas begin with official physical and social neighborhood boundary experiences (Kato, 2009). This was reassuring when the young children of my family exercise stated how they had played unofficial fun sports with no rules in the Bowness/Glebe Greenspace Park. I had already delved into research about sporting roles in place. Wise (2014) showed observations of sporting play with no painted line boundaries as in most excessively developed countries, yet it is fair to all whom play. They highlight this place through strata, starting with a plain field as flood catchment, then animal grazing, baseball and football; many uses and transitional frames likened to the idea of layers (See Schama, 1995). If any boundaries existed in Wises’ (2014) research it was from the excessive use of the sport and the consistency of play that had patches and lines where play had been etched into the land. Often boundaries would be physically made by the spectators and side liners through an autonomous and preferential act (Wise, 2014).
We can know a place independent and in relation to others. I took an approach to landscape by knowing it with knowledge of others that has influenced this place. A sense of place forms through relating other places (Convery, Corsane & Davis, 2012).
Current landscape is a product of variables (natural, social and political). Unpacking these places’ variable history tells stories. Interpretation and subjective assessments of these decides how we view landscape whether perceptually objective and subjective. How we communicate landscape to others is also affected by our values. We may deliberately or unwittingly stress a certain perspective. Communicating landscapes is therefore subject to criticism. As an educator I need to become an ecologically skillful student of place pedagogies though purpose and people (Orr, 2004). Yet, I am academically and organizationally obliged by word counts, referencing style and supported assertions through books and journals to produce such work thus hiding motivations and biases of writing (Wattchow & Brown, 2011).
The grandmother in my family exercise expressed most concern about the park space lessened over time. Yet Convery, Corsane and Davis (2012) express such a person’s view that mourns the loss of place and places needing to see that nothing has gone because of the compositions that are temporal and possessive. Kloek and others (2013) also addressed such worrisome concerns within greenspaces that border the natural and urban. They spoke of three interactive areas: conduct (behavior and food), social inclusion (perceived worries) and access.
What does a visitor of place search for? Most are consumers. We need to draw on anthropologists to suit the world that might coincide with Macnaghten & Urry (2000) basing the sociological body in human experience ‘of’ the natural: buying natural products, nature marketing images, nature conservatists, natural practices: (re)producing nature. We embody contested natures based on deliberation, meaning and negotiation that separates nature which claims to be valuable and therefore consumable.
Developing further experiences.
In an immediate and simple sense I would repeat the exercise many times for trustworthiness and truth based on research.
Practically I would like to look more into community mapping and the crafting of experience. This explores and signifies local knowledge, visions held by community members enabling ownership of experience and the representation of place (Jagger, 2013). Mental maps and conversations lead to a better understanding of sensed space (Wise, 2014). Objects sensuously extend human ability (Macnaghten & Urry, 2000). Through drawing we can show our physical senses based on our historical pasts to represent a mental view (Lavoie, 2005). Crafting is more than just a presentation but also a means of education. Eventually I would try for immersion of experience found in Bennett’s (2015) example of a research participant that duration in place improves meaning and care for it.
Criticalities of place and experience.
Meinig (1979) offers various perceptions of seeing landscape. Education about what is moral, humane, right, global, inclusive and more (Orr, 2004). Cloke (2003) further asserts there are types of perception through veneers, rhetoric and cultural gaze. These examples surface in modernity as the terms ‘focalization’ and its ancestor ‘point of view’. Such are dead metaphors likening the narrative perspective (another visual metaphor) to the act of standing in a particular spot and seeing the world from there.
Projecting nature sees new policy directions and conservation initiatives of biodiversity and sustainability terms modernizing. Going beyond picturing the landscape to ‘visceral apperception’ uses all the senses and therefore describes the unseen but also the imaginative through the other senses (Warhol, 2014). Narratological and novelist approaches desensitize us from the environmental sensing that would otherwise deepen our experiences. Furthermore, multisensory movement shapes place through corporeality of the bodily experience. Movement through place defines our engagement with it. Body-subject in mobility needs more exploring because transport is more than a way to see from but to feel from. The landscape is the practice that makes it relevant, the landscape offers more than it outwardly projects but what we embody into (Spinney, 2006).
Through my ideas, inclusion of literature and the interaction with my audience it is clear to see there are many ways one can know place through varied possibilities. Taking a rational perspective I fixed some grounds so accepting such ideas comes with reasoning. This guided my action project and as a result the reflections sought to address this.
Beyond learning by doing it is important to be aware of the power the mind can have over ontological and epistemological worlds. Thinking through tangibility integrates theory and practice which produces mental frames surrounded by environments and our lives (Ingold, 2013). An example are the roads of mobility as a paradigmatic infrastructure, supporting the information society and extractive economies of developing nations offering inward and outward pedagogy (Ingold, 2010 & Spinney, 2006).
More than we can outwardly project, on various occasions I drew attention to what the landscape can place on us through external features. Making meaning of elements through weather experiences exercises the human and nature relationship. Shaping a footprint in the bush from a weighted figure impressed into the ground shows such an immediate effect. The temporality of this feature exists in the interface of weathering changing its composition therefore providing a connection between the landscape, environment and person (Ingold, 2010). More than pragmatic; poetic and storied impressions imprint their stratification of the mind and landscape (Schama, 1995). We mostly experience the ‘solid substances’ of the earth. Multisensory weather experiences help us define our place. These change for people that follow a working ski season or chase summer seasons for romantic leisure; differing reasons but influenced by the weather. Through climate a somatic explanation of our habitus gives evidence to embodied knowing (Vannini et. al, 2012). Despite our efforts to manufacture the landscape, nature still blows through migratory evidence (species, seedlings, natural disasters). Nature still exists and occupies spaces reminding us that our reactions to such events are reflections on ourselves (Adams, 2003).
Addressing whose place a location belongs to and what place is was important. Understanding and agreeing on this is challenging which I cautiously approached. This provokes thought considering places we feel most attached to, what places offer the most stimulation and where our closest and most populated connections live. If home is of comfort and one is comfortable with the weather then one is at home. As the weather locates and travels in many spaces it therefore suggests that one has many places as homes along the weathers’ journey.
It is advised we focus on immediacy of environment by ‘walking along’; not accumulating particular places of elsewhere (Wunderlich, 2008) likened to ‘being present’ as alluded to in many self-help books. We might neglect the meaning of place but are passing through varied constructs. Inconclusively I write this as a summary not a conclusion which otherwise implies a finishing which would contradict place and its construction. Rather, it is best to be aware of all facets that integrate people and the landscape, taking the information available to us carefully. Often material will tell us how to live a better life, improve on something and change our paradigms based on othering. This might be better to consider a world that is not perfect nor about bettering but good enough which has us content in our ways and considerate of others.
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