Monday, February 19, 2007

a place is like a person

A place is like a person; it is something that can be visited, it has an immaterial presence or spirit (a sense of place), a memory and history, a life, and can be formed by time and care, dressed up or torn down, mobilized, and can flex its parts to make new contours, experiences, and attitudes.

A great place can stand alone in its beauty; holistic strength stressing pride, confidence, and presence for all to wonder. Or a place can be defeated and destroyed, made weak and timid; put into hiding, fears awaiting the opportune moment to strike out from the shadows.

Multiple places, when they come together, can be likened to a family. The links between each place may be tight bonds forged through relationship, aged and tried over time; or, like siblings, together in love since birth.

To travel from a place to a place is an act of communication, a journey. And much to the similarity of conversation, as we look at each other while debating or cajoling, we each may have – as do adjoining places – our own perspectives, grand views, and passages of many words or silence, and trails of thought… a distant vista running off into the beyond, questions left unanswered, a gift for the future and our dreams.

Ideally, we will meet places we love, need, enjoy and savor; places we can dream to be with forever. Great places bringing people together are about the greatness of people. And while a human experience in a place is fundamentally about the human relationship to the place, a place is also more than something like a person – it is something we inhabit amongst a context. Great places need not just be about us.

Savoring a moment through parallax made real by a grand tree or light fluctuating between the mass of buildings marking a piazza: both are about those objects and their freedom, identity, and relationship to context and differentiations within space.

People share much in common with the world, the Earth, and place. A bond between us and our environs – like that between two old friends – must not be forgotten.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

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