The Power of Place

Kathryn - New Bedford, Massachusetts
Entered on April 30, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in the Port City of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Eighteen years ago my husband, Ian, and I moved with our baby daughter, Storey, into the City of New Bedford. We moved from the serene, safe and somewhat exclusive agricultural community of Westport, Massachusetts into a small house in an urban center of a fishing port city commonly regarded as a port of departure. We left the quiet life of a coastal agricultural community and discovered the colorful community of a city rich in maritime history of working classes. We found a place of diverse faiths, heritages and cultures. In our effort to discover a place to begin our family, we sought a community that reflected sincerity and global diversity. We wanted a place that exposed the depth of humanity, while providing the inspiration for growth and development. We were not interested in the look of perfection but rather in the presence of authenticity.

And we found that place in the most unlikely location of the Port City of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

New Bedford is an urban city with a large and protected fishing port. Our population reflects the diversity of the maritime industries that have developed for more than two centuries. Our city often smells of fish at the end of their life cycle; an omnipresence of the mainstay of our Port. Our children, Storey, Ansel and Haines are more-often minorities in a community and a school system rich in the many cultures that have made our Port City of New Bedford their home. Located on Buzzards Bay, of the North Atlantic, we experience the complexities and controversies of our ocean resource through our city’s working waterfront port and her expansive exposure to the ocean. Our orientation to the sea is our history, our present focus, and our future. The local and regional emerging Marine Science Research, Education and Conservation programs provide the conduit to an integrated globe. We enjoy the pleasure of the ocean, yet we develop mindful and respectful of the marine commerce, conservation, education and research. Our orientation to the Sea is a humbling reminder of our very important and very small role in an integrated global community.

Eighteen years ago we started a life in this port city on Buzzards Bay, and today, we celebrate our oldest daughter’s return from her first year at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Storey chose Dalhousie University because the Port City of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was a “home” very similar to her home of New Bedford. Storey was able to identify with the learning opportunities associated with a port city on the North Atlantic. Storey is pursuing Environmental Science, Architecture and Sustainability studies at Dalhousie, researching the future of a world that must learn to be integrated and sustainable. For me, watching our daughter Storey’s confidence and drive to continue to find purpose and to learn from her coastal environment, in the context of a great and vast world is a constant reminder of the power of this place. Through Storey, I realize that our comprehensive commitment to this Port City of New Bedford has provided a new generation the awareness and the empathy to facilitate the next development in an effort to steward our lives, mindful of a global community.

The Port City of New Bedford is not pretty. Our tree-lined streets are disappearing. Our schools struggle with underperformance and our city has many abandoned homes and buildings. But our Port City of New Bedford has that rare and elusive quality of authenticity that has inspired our children to connect to the purpose of life, in the context of humility. Storey, Ansel and Haines have had the extraordinary opportunity to understand compassion and respect for many different cultures, and for the very complicated and critical resource of our oceans and their connection to a network of world oceans and cultures.

Our Port City of New Bedford has been our Port of destination, yet it represents the Port of foundation for our children’s generation.

My name is Kathryn Duff. I am an Architect in the Port City of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Along with Ian, and our children Storey, Ansel and Haines, I live and work in this Place.