Dr. Thomas A. Woods, President of Making Sense of Place, Inc., provides a lovely, textured definition of Sense of Place and its importance to us:
People develop a "sense of place" through experience and knowledge of a particular area. A sense of place emerges through knowledge of the history, geography and geology of an area, its flora and fauna, the legends of a place, and a growing sense of the land and its history after living there for a time.
The feel of the sun on your face or the rain on your back, the rough and smooth textures of the land, the color of the sky at morning and sunset, the fragrance of the plants blooming in season, the songs and antics of birds and the cautious ramblings of mammals are environmental influences that help to define a place. Memories of personal and cultural experiences over time make a place special, favorite objects that shape to your hand or body with use, songs or dances that emerge from the people of a place, special skills you develop to enjoy your area--these too help to define a place and anchor you in it. Through time, shared experiences and stories (history) help to connect place and people and to transmit feelings of place from generation to generation.
This definition is complex and multi-faceted much like true Places are, blending the physical characteristics of the land with memory, art, story, and the inexplicable feel that Places leave on the skin and mind. I like it very much.
Photo Splash Some Sun On My Face courtesy of ANne