People & Place part 5 – 1: Orienting myself in Space and Place

During the course of this Module I’ve become increasingly aware of my interest in how we as people interact with our environment –  how we shape the landscape and then how this landscape, in turn, affects our perceptions; thoughts; memories and feelings.

I’ve lived in several places but never so long as the house in Sheffield I lived in with my parents from the age of 5 to 22 (when I married) not far from my maternal grandmother’s house where I was born.  That neighbourhood still lives so strongly in my memories and dreams that I was surprised, when I last visited there, briefly, last year that I no longer felt any sense of belonging. The area had changed so much, becomes so run-down and barren of life, that it was as if someone else had once lived there.

Conversely, I don’t feel particularly attached to the town I live in now.  There are no deep memories such as my children being born here. This is part of modern living I guess – on the move. At least part of my modern living. Even so there are some places and spaces here that I do feel an attachment towards. The Common where I walk with the dogs just about every day; the small Church on the hill not so far away; the old Muslim Burial Ground and the Bronze Age Barrows across the road from there. Is it their history that gives me that sense of place I experience – that connects me to people in the past and their lives, beliefs, hopes and fears? It’s as if there are whole other parallel worlds that I connect with through those layers of history.

I’ve referred to Simon Scharma’s book Memory and Landscape before and my growing interest in cultural geography. I had thought that this might be a diversion because I was finding People & Place so challenging as a Module. I’m now thinking, though, that this particular Module began to encourage me to start digging into what connects me with my environment; forced me from my chair of “Isn’t that interesting; maybe one day I’ll ……”. I’ve certainly been technically challenged but the psychological challenge has pushed me into being my own archaeologist; searching for the roots of what binds me to this earth. Discovering how a space becomes a sense of place.

I’m pleased that my notional client for Assignment 5 has provided me with further opportunity to explore these aspects and tread new ground.

27th August 2013