Love Where You Live

Yesterday morning we attended a breakfast in Danville, featuring an inspiring talk by Peter Kageyama.

Relatively few people would call Danville a great place to live. The unemployment and crime rates are high, while median income and education levels are low. The industries that once sustained the city–textiles and tobacco–are gone. Thanks in part to “brain drain,” the city’s population has been declining for half a century.

But over the past few years especially, we’ve seen a bit of a rebound. There are young people choosing to stay here (they’ve even formed a group they call “Danville by Choice”). Some of the long-abandoned warehouses are being turned into apartments. People are discovering the beauty of the Dan River, long treated as nothing more than an industrial resource. Danville has certainly not turned into Asheville, but there are signs of life now and good reason for hope.

Into this atmosphere Mr. Kageyama spoke, sharing stories of how other cities have revitalized and improved themselves, often through inexpensive citizen-led initiatives. His message is that while it’s OK to dislike things about where we live, we ought also to embrace and enjoy the many reasons to love where we live. (You can view his TED Talk HERE).

I enjoyed the talk and I hope Danvillians take it to heart. I’d love to see Danville reverse its decline and become a better place to live and visit.

For me Danville is “town.” It is vaguely associated with “home,” but it is still city, and I’m country. I don’t feel drawn and attached to it, as I am to this farm and our rural community. Honestly, I think too many people live in cities, unsustainably. The best thing a lot of people in Danville (and most other cities) could do to make it a better place is leave it–not for another city, but for a more rural, sustainable and ecologically-sensible lifestyle. But for all of human history it seems that many of us have been attracted to urban living, in close quarters with lots of other people and more separated from the rest of the natural world. I don’t get that, but I’m in the minority and I suppose it’s a good thing that we don’t all think exactly alike.

As for me, I’m deeply rooted to this place. I have a profound love for the land–and this place especially–that is very difficult to describe and would likely seem weird to people who don’t know that feeling. This is, to borrow Wendell Berry’s words, “the place that is my place.”

So some of us probably have a love for place embedded in us like DNA. We don’t need to hear TED Talks to inspire us to love where we live. But there are many of us who grumble and complain about where we live, perhaps looking happily toward the day we can go live somewhere else (I’ve been in that boat too). In those circumstances it is good to remember that for everything we don’t like about where we live, there are probably dozens of things to love about it.

Just some rambling thoughts this morning. Now off to spend some time with the place I love…

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20 comments on “Love Where You Live

  1. ain't for city gals says:

    I absolutely love where I live ! Almost to the point of where I don’t want to go anywhere but I do like to see other surroundings…but always glad to come home to our beautiful Arizona desert. When we go back east or north my husband and I come home with “green overload”….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I’m in love with our place too. I’d be perfectly happy to spend all the rest of my days here. 🙂

      I’ve never been to Arizona (maybe someday) but when I was in college I gave a guy from Arizona who was visiting the University a ride to the airport. He kept going on about how amazingly green everything was. To me it just looked normal.

      Like

  2. shoreacres says:

    It reminds me of the old Stephen Sills song: “If you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.”

    There’s no perfect place, of course. Even you have marauding deer and coons! But every place does have virtues to accompany its faults. The trick is to find them.

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    • Bill says:

      That song was in my head while I typed this post this morning. I even played around with trying to create a clever title riffing on it, but gave up having once again come up empty in the cleverness department.

      Did you have to go and mention deer? I’ve spared y’all a post about it, but we’ve taken a very hard hit from them lately. As bad as it hurts us (and it hurts us pretty bad), it could have been worse. One of my friends left his farm to go away for the weekend and when he returned he found that he’d lost everything he planted. He’s having to shut down operations for the year. And another farmer I talked to has just packed it in, concluding that it’s impossible to grow produce here. And yes, despite the marauding deer, I do love this place.

      Like

  3. BeeHappee says:

    Eskimos found it enjoyable living on bare ice.
    Great work by Peter Kageyama., his book and his talks, look very inspiring for people everywhere.
    His saying that we hate big things and love little things (or should look at those little things) is true in any part of life. Nice to see people so passionate about their place. Illinois is far from perfect, and you could find a million (big) faults if you looked, but I love the people here, the seasons, the variety of cultures, and the abundance of learning opportunities.
    Some strange way we are drawn to certain things, some to cities and some to country, I am a winter kid and thrive on snow, my sister on the other hand, asked for more and more sun, and now she is very happy living in sunny Italy.

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    • Bill says:

      Cherie still calls herself a city girl, although you’d never guess it from how she spends her days now. And we’re both warm weather people. I think we’d both find Illinois way too cold for us.

      When we moved here 12 years ago, for me it was returning home. For Cherie it was MAJOR culture shock. But to her credit she said she would bloom where she’s planted, and she has.

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  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, when my friends and neighbors chose me (drafted) to defend the country in the Vietnam war, I spent a year and a half in Germany keeping the Fräulein(s) (single women) safe while in the pubs. Yeah, not really. I worked as a team clerk at a missile base. Anyway, I got to be away from Nebraska for that time and come back to St. Louis Missouri after being released from my duties as defender of the country. After another four years of living outside of Nebraska, a decision was made to move back to Nebraska. Almost from the moment we had settled into a rented house I finally felt like I was home again. So much so that I promised myself that I would never move away from Nebraska again. I have traveled past many tourist places of interest but have never stopped or even had an interest to see things of the world. There’s a lot of my grandmother in me. Only one time in her 80 some years of life did she travel more than 50 miles from home. I could be perfectly content if I never left the local area again in my life.

    The thing I missed the most from Nebraska and didn’t know it, was the seasons. Where I live the seasons are very distinct and mostly three months each. Every season has enjoyable things to do and when I get tired of those things the next season is on the horizon. My very favorite is Spring with all it’s new life, then would come Fall with cooling temperatures, Winter with snow activities, and those dog days of Summer are awesome. I love this place where I live. For me it’s the best place to live on the planet.

    Have a great love where you live day.

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    • Bill says:

      It’s great that you love your place so much Dave. I share that feeling, even though we live in very different places. I’ve traveled a lot in my life too, but I’m with you. I’d be perfectly happy to spend the rest of my days here. I’d never get bored or restless.

      I love the seasons too. Even though I sometimes complain about the cold, I even love winter. Seasons keep us aware of and tuned into the natural cycles I think.

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  5. Joanna says:

    Oh boy! I have just spent three intense days on the topic of “Sense of Place” and you put this in your blog 😀 Joking aside, I have spent the last year looking at what attaches people to place and what is needed to draw people to a rural area to stem the flow of migration. I have also been looking at aspects of that attachment that might help them be drawn into working with developers (as in planning officials not the leeches that build expensive, unsustainable houses). Quite a fascinating topic really

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    • Bill says:

      To me the sense of attachment to place feels almost mysterious. And it’s interesting that some have it and some don’t. Attachment to place is a frequent theme for the writer Wendell Berry, my favorite.

      It’s fairly easy to understand what draws people from the country to the city–the opportunity to make more money, escaping farm life which some consider drudgery, the attraction of restaurants, theaters, bars and all the thrills of city living. It’s harder I think to explain what might draw a person to the country. In my case, when I was growing up I couldn’t wait to leave here and go live in exciting places with interesting educated people. I never would have guessed that I would reach a point in life when I would want to come back here and (of all things) take up farming. Life can be crazy like that.

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      • Joanna says:

        In my studies I heard time and time again that people chose the rural life for the peace and quiet and distance from the city rush. This came from younger people too, admittedly not teenagers, but mid-20s to 30s

        Liked by 1 person

  6. associatedluke says:

    Maybe we need the TED talks to inspire us to act upon the love we have for our towns and lands? My hometown is trying to come back form the dead. They just held a “922-Day” you can read about that here: http://timesreporter.com/article/20150922/NEWS/150929823

    It has taken me a long time to love that place. I only knew decline and desperation. There was no pride, only the lazy and slow path of death.

    Drowning and dying is easy, you just stop swimming. It’s trying to live that takes all the work!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      “The lazy and slow path of death.” That seemed to be the path Danville was taking too. It’s encouraging to see some energetic people choosing to express their love and hope for the place, rather that just bemoaning being stuck there. By the way, the situation isn’t much better out here in the county. We suffer from a lot of the same problems Danville has. I’m hoping we’ll start seeing some of that vision and hope out here too.

      May your hometown find its second wind and may it be filled with happy people who love the place they live!

      Like

  7. EllaDee says:

    Love Where You Live is very sound advice I believe. I’m fortunate that I’ve always felt at home wherever I’ve landed. The G.O. and I were only discussing recently other ‘at home places’; where you were born, where you grew up and where you settled. Each has a very different feel. As you point out practically, none of them are perfect but they still feel like home.
    The G.O. and I are both also very at home in our inner city neighbourhood of a decade or so, some things we love, some things we detest… oh the trains, the trains! adjacent to our apartment.
    In due course we’ll make our other home in a village in the rural area where the G.O. was born our only home, and there’ll be good and bad in that too.

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    • Bill says:

      To borrow the quote Cherie used when we moved here, you’ll bloom where you’re planted. 🙂

      I was guilty of not sufficiently appreciating our home in Tampa, although I wasn’t nearly as bad as the Northern “snowbirds” who move to Florida and spend the rest of their lives complaining about how inferior it is to the North. I’m deeply rooted and attached to this place, so I excuse it’s flaws more easily than I probably would if I moved here involuntarily.

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  8. smcasson says:

    Bill, if you don’t mind me jumping in here late… I thought about this a lot yesterday.
    I love where we are now. We finally feel “home”. It hasn’t always been that way for me. I am in my late 20s and have moved something like 17 times, can’t keep track exactly. After my parents divorced, my mom moved us around a lot, mostly during my years from 2nd-10th grade in school. When I was younger and people would ask me where I was from, I would always say, “I don’t know where I am from yet, but I was born in Nashville.” I never felt quite settled, never felt like a place really added anything to me. I think because of moving so much, I wouldn’t mind moving now, ten miles up the road or even cross-country, even though we are “home” and we love this place and community so much. I am just not very attached to a specific place like Dave mentioned above.
    Now we are working toward buying a property to develop into our forever home – a diversified little farm. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about my poor track record for staying in one spot for very long. Hard to build a forever home if you move too often. Wish me luck, haha…

    Like

    • nebraskadave says:

      Smcasson, I know many people that are just like you. They have traveled and lived all around the world. Settling in one place is too confining to them and they continue to move. It’s just part of their lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s just not for me. Folks just move more due to jobs, family, or interests. There’s no right or wrong in moving or not moving. Being on the down hill side of life, I can finally say that I’ve found my city/country niche in life. I come from both country life and city life while growing up.

      Good luck with settling the roaming feet in one spot. 🙂

      Like

      • smcasson says:

        Thanks, Dave. I’ve always lived in the city growing up, but spent a week here and there at my uncle’s farm. I’ve always loved the country since being there.
        -Scott

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    • Bill says:

      The world needs people who aren’t content to stay put. Most of us Americans have ancestors who were willing to pick up and move.

      Maybe someday you’ll find a place that will hold you. But if not, then move on in high spirits! You’re probably carrying the blood of explorers and pioneers.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hi Bill, Completely missed this post the other day, but certainly glad I found it this morning…
    I don’t think that everyone need move out to the country to modify their lives – and the planet – in a good way (in that case you’d have more suburbs and even less land for self-reliance): However, I do feel that, no matter where you live, everyone should have a little patch of dirt to call their own [be it a garden in the yard, Community Garden or simply pots on the verandah] and being connected to the Earth is necessary for health in body, mind and spirit.
    Having said that: I am, and always have been a country kid – with the exception a few years of forced city living to make me TRULY appreciate rural life. The rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine will always be where my heart abides…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Ridges_Moraine. N.B. Contrary to what is written here, the Moraine extends from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the Trent River (southern-most portion of the Trent-Severn Waterway) in the east…

    Like

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