The Power of Evolving Place

Michelle - Worcester, Massachusetts
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the power of evolving place. As you change, places you know change with you. American geographer D.W. Meinig writes, “Any landscape is composed of not only what lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads” (34): places are more than just a measure of latitude and longitude, they have meaning. Places are significant and often help shape who we are. My family’s summer cabin has been an icon of my evolution as a person representing my creativity, independence, and social interactions.

Throughout my childhood, my cabin provided lush woods for me to play in: I was a modern Lewis and Clark. Progressing, I now take photos as steam rises from the collision of the cool morning air and the lake water. Throughout my life, my cabin has provided me with all the tools I need to express my creativity.

Other than serving as an outlet for expressing my creativity, my cabin has acted as a center for developing relationships. I grew up, underneath the tall branches and discolored sheets, hiding in the “teepee” with my cousins. Now, after years of expanding our social networks, my cousins and I have grown to realize the importance of family and are reforming old bonds with one another. For me, our cabin has been the link in the evolution of my development socially and continues to serve to do so even today.

Above all, my cabin has served as a symbol of my independence over the years. Giving me places to go and explore, I traveled the forests and islands alone. Now, I spend the summers living in our cabin, working nearby. I have become independent of my parents, largely because of the opportunities I had to explore on my own, at our cabin.

As I have developed as a person, my cabin has changed too. Yet even with this constant evolution, the character, the essence of the cabin (and of myself) still remains. My relationship to the cabin can be explained by likening it to a person’s relationship with his/her bedroom. When one is born, he/she has a room designed by his/her parents. Slowly, he/she begins to have independence and walls are painted his/her favorite color. One’s bedroom now serves as a social center. As a teen, the room transforms again, plastered with posters: an artistic license for the room. As time has passed, he/she has developed independence, creativity, and his/her own social networks all within this seemingly simple bedroom.

As we change, so do our perceptions of a place. But even with changes, these places still retain their character from the times before. My perception of our summer cabin changed as my values changed. Yet the things I learned at our cabin remain with me. As Tim Creswell says in his book Place, “places are never complete, finished or bounded but are always becoming- in process.” (37) Thus, I believe places are transformed, as we are, into something new; I believe in the power of evolving place.