The Holt

Land's edge in Lincoln Park, San Francisco

When I was a kid, I used to go out to Lincoln Park in San Francisco by myself nearly every day. These days, you can get a call from the cops if you let your pre-teen kids out of the house without supervision in California, but back then, it was completely normal. Every day after school, when my homework was done -- or when I claimed that my homework was done -- I would head out the front door and up the hill a couple of blocks to the playground. The park would usually be full of neighborhood … [Read more...]

The Weight Of A University

Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum from University of Glasgow

Last week I found myself on the Glasgow University campus and was struck by the feel of it. The area taken up by University buildings, old and new, is quite large, and the whole of it has a certain weight to it. There's a sense of something deep there.Some of the University buildings are very old. The architecture looms large. Certainly that's part of the weight, but not all of it.There is something else. I want to say that it's a scent, but that's not quite right. A presence is more … [Read more...]

People and Place

This way to the Iron Age earth works

Today I have no answers or great stories to tell, just a rambling discursive meditation on the relationship between people and place. Do people make a place the way it is or does a place shape the people who live there?Chicken. Egg. There's really no answer to this question. But when you think of the personality of a place, it has a lot to do with the culture and personality of the people who live there.But the personality of a place shifts over time, in part because of migrations of … [Read more...]

Tracking Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

The cherry trees are in bloom here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The white and pink blossoms signal that spring is here. Their beauty brings a certain lightness to the step. The tradition of picnicking under a blossoming cherry tree brings a certain joy to the heart. The San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival in April is a wonderful celebration of Japanese culture in California as well as the beauty of the flowers and the excitement of spring.But the festival is in April and the trees have … [Read more...]

Two peoples, one mountain, our tales (Part 2)

Last week I told a creation myth based on this Northern California mountain that comes to us from the Chochenyo Ohlone who lived here before the Spanish arrived. This is another story about the same mountain that was told to me when I was a child. Aside from the fact that both my mother and father knew the story, the exact source of it is unknown to me. I have not been able to find another example of this particular tale. My parents told this as non-Catholics with a twist of irony. In my … [Read more...]

Two peoples, one mountain, our tales (Part 1)

PGPT_ASenseofPlace_bio

I'm sure that you've heard of The Great Flood. It destroyed the Old World, and the World we live in now is what came after that Flood. You know a version of the story, but it's not like our story. Yours probably has a mountain in it, too. But it's a different mountain. And your story probably has a boat in it and some Man that saves all the animals from certain doom. At least, that's the story that I've heard from people who aren't from around here. That's not what happened in our story. Our … [Read more...]

Relocalized

Maker Faire San Francisco 2012

Oakland. The city of my birth. The city where my daughter was born. The city where my mother was born. Her mother was born one city over in Berkeley. If any place is really my "home" on this planet, this must be it. And yet, I've struggled with this place. I leave it quickly and come back only under duress. My friends point out that I seem to be happy here, and they wonder why I'm so anxious to go. It's not hard to explain. There's too much history. And the Bay Area isn't the place I grew up any … [Read more...]


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