The Importance of Place
Exploring Informal Learning for Community Leadership through Auto-Ethnography.
In an attempt to understand why informal learning experiences often resonate deeply with—and contribute to the development of—community leaders, this research investigates what role place has in shaping the learning experiences most influential for developing community leadership skills. Taking the form of an auto-ethonography, select community leadership roles I held between 2007 and 2017 are examined through the act of critical reflection, focusing on elements such as snapshots, artifacts, and metaphor which were selected from an archive of work.
What is Place but a Social Construct?
Like time, place may simply be a social construct—not needing to be connected to geographic space, physical location, or physicality whatsoever.
Existing more in the abstract, through our relations with one another, place may only be connected to tangible environments when we choose to collectively assign the label of place to the spaces we share.
Then again, perhaps place is a social contract—an agreement between individuals and collectives on how they will relate to one another. How, as a community, individuals come together to collectively generate shared meaning from their experiences while occupying spaces together; spaces that may be traditional and physical as well as abstract and metaphorical.
Investigating The Importance of Place provided the opportunity to form the initial thoughts on place; they have yet to be fully explored but serve as a foundation for ongoing contemplation on, and the interpretation of, ideas surrounding what constitute place.
As these thoughts continue to expand in words, and focus in scope, I will add to and build upon what is noted above.
As I finish up a marathon of reading over the past 4 months (50+ books, articles, thesis & dissertations), I am now trying to process all that I have consumed in order to make sense of the scope of work that has already been published. As I consider citizen empowerment, informal learning, community development and place, I am looking for gaps and opportunities in current research to help shape my own. Included below is a sample of what I have been reading, selected from the ‘place’ category of my research:
Bradshaw, T. K. (2008). The post-place community: Contributions to the debate about the definition of community. Community Development, 39(1), 5–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/15575330809489738
Bridger, J. C., & Alter, T. R. (2006). Place, community development, and social capital. Community Development, 37(1), 5–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/15575330609490151
Foroughi, B., & Durant, C. (2013). Spaces of community development and adult learning within diverse urban settings. In T. Nesbit, S. M. Brigham, N. Taber, & T. Gibb (Eds.), Building on critical traditions: Adult education and learning in Canada (pp. 215–224). Toronto, Canada: Thompson Educational Publishing.
Gruenewald, D. A. (2003). Foundations of place: A multidisciplinary framework for place-conscious education. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 619–654. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3699447
Johnson, J. T. (2012). Place-based learning and knowing: Critical pedagogies grounded in Indigeneity. GeoJournal, 77(6), 829–836. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-010-9379-1
Kudryavtsev, A., Stedman, R. C., & Krasny, M. E. (2012). Sense of place in environmental education. Environmental Education Research, 18(2), 229–250. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2011.609615
Lefebvre, H., & Nicholson-Smith, D. (1991). The production of space. Oxford, United Kingdom; Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1080/00420989220081001
Meshram, K., & O’Cass, A. (2013). Empowering senior citizens via third places: Research driven model development of seniors’ empowerment and social engagement in social places. Journal of Services Marketing, 27(2), 141–154. https://doi.org/10.1108/08876041311309261
Nesbit, T., & Wilson, A. L. (2010). Class and place in adult and continuing education. In C. E. Kasworm, A. D. Rose, & J. M. Ross-Gordon (Eds.), Handbook of adult and continuing education (pp. 389–397). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Place as a Verb
Perhaps we talk about place, and placemaking, in a backwards sort of way.
As an unfinished though just stating to form, I am curious of how our dialog about space, place, placemaking and us as people has developed over time. Does the way in which we speak about the spaces we occupy, and our creation of place through relationships, experiences and the generation of meaning, influence our abilities to shape and change our sense of place to benefit us, our communities and the broader society?