The Soulful Landscape Philosophy
Sense of Self + Sense of Place = Stewardship and Sustainability
"If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are" Wendell Berry
Healing the DisconnectWe all have a connection to places that can be remembered, evoked and restored. Our disconnect from places has led to the degradation of places, people and cultures throughout the world. Fostering a 'sense of place' means finding relationships, kinship and connections that enrich our lives and help us take care of places for today and the future.
Your 'sense of place' is as unique as you are. It's made up of experiences, moments and memories. Your 'place' could be from the past or present. It could be urban, rural, wild, and everything in-between.What matters is finding a connection to a place that stirs your soul. When you explore that connection, you begin to restore something in your life you may have been longing for without even knowing what to call it.
I call it soulfully connecting to place.
In a world that moves so fast, where so much is on the line, slowing down to tap into your senses, and remember your connection to places could be be just the tonic you need.
What is a 'sense of place?'
"A 'sense of place' is "those things that add up to a feeling that a community is a special place, distinct from anywhere else." The National Register of Historic Preservation
"Of all the memberships we identify ourselves by the one thing that is most forgotten, and that has the greatest potential for healing, is place. We must learn to know, love, and join our place even more than we love our own ideas. People who can agree that they share a commitment to the landscape/cityscape -- even if they are otherwise locked in struggle with each other -- have at least one deep thing to share." Gary Snyder
"Places come to exist in our imaginations because of stories, and so do we. When we reach for a “sense of place,” we posit an intimate relationship to a set of stories connected to a particular location... Having “a sense of self” means possessing a set of stories about who we are and with whom and why." William Kittredge
The bulk of my work during my undergraduate program at Hampshire College (Amherst, MA) was a project called "A Sense of Self, a Sense of Place." This grew out of a combination of field research, essays and creative writings about nature, history and culture, and examined how we affect places, and how places affect us.
I went on to become a touring artist whose songs were deeply rooted in the land and a sense of place. After a decade on the road, I created my Soulful Landscape programs, in response to changes I witnessed across the American landscape in the 90's while on tour, where I saw many of the open spaces and historic areas I had come to love, forever change.
It seemed like there must be a disconnect between people and place. I thought "if people were more connected personally to places, they would have made different choices." I wanted to find a way to offer to programs and performances that were still entertaining and uplifting, but also helped people explore, define and celebrate their 'sense of place.' The time felt right to bring my life full circle.
Today as a performing artist, educator, speaker and conservation advocate, I combine my two decades of experience in the creative arts with my background and life-long passion for environmental studies and conservation, to create programs that touch the heart and mind, nourishing the foundation of our inner and outer lives. A frequent result of my programs is a new or renewed sense of engagement in stewardship----in taking care of the places we love, (and those that need our affection,) for today and the future.
The Soulful Landscape and Conservation
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold, "A Sand County Almanac"
- How do we inspire more people to care, and act on their caring to protect places for today and future generations?
- How can we help people make choices that are more sustainable for all life on this planet?
- How can we help people gain not just physical access to places, but emotional access as well?
We value places for many different reasons: economic, recreational, scenic are a few. For many people, just the way a place makes us feel is reason enough to take care of a place.
When we nourish the connection between people and place, we nourish the foundation of a lifetime of stewardship. When we know why places matter to us personally, we take care of places for today and the future.
In fact, it's my perspective that the way a place makes us feel, that is, our personal, individual, unique relationships with places is one of the largest untapped resources in conservation, sustainability and preservation today.
"We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well--- for we will not fight to save what we do not love." Stephen Jay Gould, author and scientist
Behind every place that's ever been protected or conserved, there is a love story.
A story of an individual, or group of people who cared, and had the skills to articulate that caring, evoke caring in others, and put that caring into action. Sometimes it can be that simple: we take care of what we love.
While it may not seem to make economic sense to preserve a place rather than develop it, on a heart level, it makes all the sense in the world. My programs help people tap into their personal connections to place. My goal is to empower voices, foster connections, and offer a vision for how we can each make a difference for the future of the places and the planet we love.
What are your stories of connection?
“The coming decades will be a pivotal time in Western thought and faith. For students, a greater emphasis on spiritual context could stimulate a renewed sense of awe for the mysteries of nature and science. For the environmental movement, an opportunity arises to appeal to more than the usual constituencies, to go beyond utilitarian arguments to a more spiritual motivation: conservation is, at it’s core, a spiritual act.” Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods"
Your love story is needed. Especially during challenging times, we need all the inspiration we can get. Your personal stories of connection can help others experience what you see, think, feel and know. It's a process of coming to know yourself and your surroundings. And it's teachable. It's a process I'd love to share with you!
It would be my honor to help you find, create, express, and discover how to live soulfully connected to place.