I’ve been thinking about how we create a sense of place, and how our communities cultivate belonging for each other. Right now, our city is under tremendous pressure to accommodate the rapid growth. From housing to transportation we are seeing significant changes through infrastructure and programs. Trying to maintain what makes this place special is a challenge, and one that isn’t kind to everyone. How do we comprehend and appreciate our heritage, remembering the reasons we came together here in the first place?
When I contemplate how individuals engage with each other in order to create a community, honoring the past while planning for the future, I see hope for Seattle. It’s the reason I jumped in to help raise the funds needed to acquire a piece of land in my neighborhood through The Urban Homestead Foundation. I saw a group of people with a great (big and bold!) idea to build a hub of agricultural learning in the middle of the city. The intent was not just growing food or selling plants, but educating each other how to grow food in their own yards and how to save seeds and cuttings to share with each other. They were talking about connecting with farmers outside of the city in order to support a local food economy and discussing the importance of reuse and simplicity. A movement was taking formation and from the community response, everyone was feeling it. People want a reason to gather, to share their knowledge and skills, and they want to preserve a way of interacting with the seasons.
People who know me were surprised to hear I was involved in creating a place to share urban homesteading skills (most certainly not in my wheelhouse, as anything I try to grow dies and I’d much rather shop Etsy for hand knit things). Yet there was something about this idea that latched onto my heart. Something about building community around a sharing economy and creating an active green space in order for my young sons to gain hands-on experience with a culture of planting and giving. This big and bold idea was not just about land acquisition or learning how to raise chickens; it was tapping into a desire for belonging, both to a rich heritage of what this neighborhood has been and the cultural legacy we can create together.
We cultivate belonging by working together on things that matter, and we create a sense of place when we honor what was in order to create what can be. It’s important to consider these ideas, surrounded by cranes and the sounds of hammers. As the city grows up all around us, how are you engaging with something that matters? And how do you nurture belonging and place wherever you are?