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Why Connect?

Hiking

 

Why Connect to These?

There is a necessary connection between direct
life-place experience and true belonging. It is not
a “virtual reality” proposition. If we are not directly tied to the land through our vocation, then we
must attach to it by avocation. To really belong
is to immerse oneself within; there are no
substitutes for “being there.”
(Thayer: Life
Place. Bioregional Thought and Practice)

Despite being a landscape planner and an environmental academic, Thayer credits outdoor recreation for his link to the place he calls home.
He says that a community’s sense of belonging, level of attachment to, and concern for the welfare of a natural region is directly proportionate to the ability to access the representative spaces and natural character of that region. In other words, the more one gets out there, the better one's sense of belonging will be.

 

Connection

Recreation plays an important part in connecting people to a life place, but why is that connection important? Most will immediately agree that we care for the places we feel connected to. Elsewhere in Hidden Corner we have spoken of the psychological and educational importance of time spent outdoors, but in this context the time spent recreating not only refreshes the spirit, it engenders care for the place
that refreshes the spirit.

Recreation

Ninety percent of Americans no longer make their living from the land. We cannot become so disengaged from the land that our only connection
to it is through the grocery store. For many the primary means of engaging with the landscape is recreation. Studies have shown that ethical recreation increases a sense of belonging and care for a region.

 

Place of Life

Bioregions are typically identified by dominant vegetation types, but they also correspond to watersheds as determined by topography.
The flowers and plants that grow there provide habitat for animals and a backdrop to our cities
and farms. Bioregions are therefore defined as
communities of life, both human and nonhuman. This has ecological implications, and so it seems
to make sense that the closer our connections to
the land, the better our condition.

Wendell Berry writes that a healthy community is a form of life that includes all the local things that are connected by the larger, ultimately mysterious form of Creation. “In speaking of community then, we are speaking of a complex connection not only among human beings or between human beings and their homeland, but also between the human economy and nature,” says Berry.