Some stories of place
All places have interesting stories to tell. You just need to find a good storyteller. A local sage.
Stories are a snapshot from the community album of memories. A glimpse of the big picture. A small piece of the jigsaw.
Stories make a place interesting. They give it character and what makes it special.
Stories are the basis of community identity and a sense of place. It is who they are.
Lots of interesting stories stay hidden and are never told to the world. Understanding a place means understanding its stories.
Stories contribute to the landscape of a place. The landscape is constructed from the stories of place.
Your community has these stories. They are about the district’s people, its history, its heritage, its traditions, its rituals, its celebrations, its conventions by sharing memories, and special events from the past.
Community stories are drawn from the memories and experiences of local families, local identities, community organisations, local institutions, local rituals and traditions, and a host of other matters.
Your community’s story has links to other parts of the world (transnational factors) and is part of the movement of peoples, ideas, technologies and institutions across national boundaries, from across continents.
Your community story is the area’s natural and cultural heritage, as well as tangible and intangible factors.
The Camden History Notes blog will share these stories. It will mainly tell stories of the Macarthur region. Occasionally interesting stories from other community will be posted.
Canadian environmental historian JE Brunton has a lovely story about the importance of place and what drew her to it in her writing.
What brought you to the field of environmental history?
I think I might have taken the scenic route to get here. When it comes to the environmental part of ‘environmental history’ I found myself drawn to the field the more certain I became that I wanted to study place, land, and labour as central categories of meaning in people’s lives. I became interested in history through the process of researching my current project and discovering how much imagining about the past and historical legacies were appearing in my ethnographic experiences. In studying religion, I am working to understand what stories, practices, and other tools play a role in how communities and individuals situate themselves meaningfully in the world. Environmental history is key to this effort, both in revealing how place and land shape people’s spiritual worlds, but also in connecting contemporary relationships to place with that place’s past.
Stephanie Meeks’ The Past and Future City, How Historic Preservation is Reviving America’s Communities (Island Press, Washington, 2016)
Meeks has some interesting comments about interpretation of place.
- Places define us and out community. Places bring people together and relate our history. (1)
- Places define a community so that future generations can know their pastd, feel a connection wot those who came before, and build a foundation for the future. We want these places to stand as beacons for us and for those who come after us. (4)
- We all have place that matter to us. Place attachment and the development of emotional bonds with places is prerequisite of psychological balance and good adjustment. It helps us overcome identity crises and give people the sense of stability they need in the the everchanging world. (4)
- Places define and structure our sense of self. (4)
- Places help shape us. They help us understand ourselves, and they connect us to other human beings, even across centuries or millennia. (5)
- Places give us the chance to feel a connection to others (6)
- Losing places can be extraordinarily traumatic. The US preservation movement has its origins in such trauma. (7)