Last year, I asked my facebook friends to comment on the question, "Why do you live where you live?" It's an important concept to me and something I think about nearly every day. The comments that poured in were so interesting and beautiful that I felt compelled to do something with them. So I wrote them all out by hand.
The process of slowly reading, writing, ruminating on, and reworking these comments was enriching. It became an art project. I appreciate everyone's generosity in sharing their words with me.
Of the land
When I first tried to visualize the comments, I was not happy with the result. I ended up with an answer that felt disconnected from the question. Then in the spring, I had the chance to take a slow, contemplative walk through the town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick with two artist friends of mine who have a transformative way of absorbing the world around them. We spent some time walking through a centuries-old cemetery, reading the stones and noting everything from the letter carving to the wear of time. I came across a particular stone which the earth had sort of grown into. It was painted in the yellow, green, and brown of years in stillness. The colours spoke some sort of truth to me like they were the palette of belonging or being of the land.
I find that phrase on the tip of my tongue a lot. Of the land. It's something that whispers through my head when I go home to my uncle's farm and smell the smells, feel the seasons. Of the land is with me in Fredericton when I pull on my boots and breathe in quiet winter mornings, or in August when I pick a sweet handful of berries by the back fence. I did not grow up here and have no claim to land anywhere. Being of the land does not mean owning a place, it means surrendering to it, being claimed by it, and finding yourself at home. All of that is to say, I saw these colours on a tombstone that had stood so long it became part of the earth and it struck a cerebral chord with me that makes the words of place mean so much more.
Some of the comments, practical to passionate to purposeful
Plattsville, Ontario. It is close to family and I was able to find a farm that met what I was looking for. Also good access to population centres to sell the vegetables I grow and also importantly where I can hire staff.
Kitchener in an older neighbourhood near downtown. Started working in Kitchener after graduating and KW has gradually started to feel like home. I know a lot of people here, and I’m a regular at more than a few places. Getting around is easy. The tech community is thriving, but not at the expense of culture. Can get to the country roads in a relatively short amount of time, which I like for cycling. There’s a lot to do here, and it’s not too far from my family in London and Toronto.
I live in Newfoundland because it overwhelms me with a sense of ‘home’. The Newfoundland pride runs through my veins. My family is here and my family’s history is here. It’s overflowing with a culture distinctly its own. I feel safe, supported and that the work I do is making a real impact.
My mom always took me to the city as a child and it has since occupied a nostalgic place in my memories, so living here has a very “I’m grown up now” feeling that is tied to very early memories.
[My Partner] and I both dreamt of living anywhere else, but I was offered my dream job! I have chosen to take this opportunity to do all I can to make London a place where I can feel proud to live.
A version of this article was originally posted on Strong Towns.