OE Global 2023 QOTD 2: The Land Where We Are From

It’s time to start ramping up the conversation space here, let’s make this space come alive for people new to OEG Connect! We are going to start a regular string of open ended starters here as we are now two weeks out from the first day of OE Global 2023.

Let’s consider the influence of the part of the earth we knew as a child. What is the effect of the first lands we knew of?

Landforms mosaic flickr photo by vwbranom shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Question of the Day #2

As an introduction, reply below with a response and share the place on this globe you entered the world. For the conference we are giving thought to the ways we as educators or more general as people have connections to the land.

Not just the human history and maps, but what is the influence of the land itself, its topography, soil, trees, the environment where you are raised? How did the landscape, the geography, climate influence you? What stories, traditions can you share that have a connection to your place of birth?

These are a series we call Questions of the Day we hope can lead to connection, even braiding!

Hi everyone :open_smiley:. This is a great QOTD about the influence of the landscape where we grew up. With such a global conference, I’m sure there are some fascinating stories!! Participating remotely as I cannot travel, this is mine.

I was born and grew up in a small village called Hythe, on Southampton Water in the UK, which is middle of the south coast and opposite the Isle of Wight. It’s the port where so many famous cruise liners go in and out, such as the QE2 by Jim Champion. Our lives were always surrounded by this activity. Cowes on the Isle of Wight is home to iconic yachting events like Cowes Week and the departure for the Fastnet Race. Our little village of Hythe has its own pier, a ferry across to Southampton, and the world’s oldest working pier train. This was our childhood as we grew up. The ferry service has been threatened with closure many times, and there have been several community efforts to save it as a vital public transport link. So the landscape and the geography were woven (braided?) into our lives. Later on when I was 17, I sailed in the Tall Ships race as part of an all-female crew on the sail training schooner Sir Winston Churchill. It was 1979, and just after the Fastnet race disaster. Force 8 gales and I was climbing the rigging to bring the sails in. That transformational and scary experience has helped me throughout my life. So the land and sea of my birth had a profound effect.

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My first thought is trees. I grew up just outside the northwest corner of Baltimore, Maryland, USA, a neighborhood known as Lochearn. It was suburban, modest homes on small lots.

Ours had a typical grassy lawn but just adjacent was a part of the neighborhood where the houses were nested in trees, like maybe, I might have thought, some of the original forested landscape that was here (?) Between my elementary school and middle school was a place known as “The Woods”, maybe 1/4 mile wide and 1/2 mile long, with trails that made it seem like you were far away in a wild forest It had these large boulders at the east entrance, that was a gathering spot.

It was interesting when I returned as an adult how much smaller everything was!

I cant say I was influenced as a tree love or to later come to love wandering in much larger and wilder natural spaces, especially when I moved to the southwest US, but something about being able to play and wander in a forest made for a place of imagination from the ordinary world (?).

Yes, something about growing up under and near trees is what stands out.

Oh and one more thing. The homes of our neighbors down the street and around the corner, all was essentially a common space. Kids would just roam from one yard to the next or use another homes swing set or another’s basketball hoop. This was the norm of homes in Lochearn. It never felt like there were strict borders. When I later moved to Phoenix, Arizona I was rather struck that the norm there (and many other cities) was for all yards to be fenced, separate. Understandable, I came to see for maybe privacy, but there was not the same kind of shared space I remembered.

Looking forward to reading more responses to this QOTD.

I went and looked up Lochearn and Baltimore @cogdog, as my schoolgirl geography couldn’t quite place it with certainty :grinning:. So we have two threads so far in our braiding about the influences of where we grew up. About common spaces, imagination, and how the environment can profoundly shape our future experiences. I wonder if anyone else has any stories? They may not always be happy. Sometimes our home environment is a place that we needed to get away from.

I’m thinking Alan about your home and yard common spaces, as well as the trees, and the difference in the city in Phoenix. It could represent the tensions involved in collaboration - what am I losing and what am I gaining by sharing my home’s swing set with all the kids in the neighbourhood (neighborhood :slightly_smiling_face:)? What is the physical and social sharing culture that helps make that collaboration happen?

This could relate to the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary questions that @connieb is now raising in preparation for the panel on Futures of Interdisciplinary OER. The power structures, ‘tribes’, ways of thinking and philosophies of particular disciplines or ‘homes’ and familiar ‘backyards’ will most likely not be enough to to solve our pressing societal challenges, but at what cost will the collaboration come? How much do we welcome and respect other disciplines as sharing equals? It’s so helpful to think of simple everyday and natural analogies.

I was born in Hollywood, California, exactly in the middle of the baby boom. My parents had met there after WWII ended, presumably having been starstruck while growing up during the Great Depression. We soon moved into an old farmhouse in Whittier, a peaceful 19th century Midwestern Quaker village halfway between the Hollywoodland sign and the brand new “Mickey Mouse Park.”

Before the Spanish arrived, the Tongva (or Kizh, or Gabrieleno) peoples largest village was Yaanga, near today’s Los Angeles river and where El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula was founded. The land where Hollywood, the Griffith Observatory (think “Rebel Without a Cause”), and Dodger Stadium are now, was temporarily Rancho Los Feliz in Alta California. There was another Tongva (or Kizh, or Gabrieleno) village called Shevaanga near today’s San Gabriel river, on land that was temporarily El Rancho Paso de Bartolo, where Whittier is now.

Whittier is also Richard M. Nixon’s hometown: he was the US Vice President when I was born and won the presidency two months after I started high school. My earliest memories are of playing with the neighborhood boys in the avocado grove at the end of our block, the last remnant of Whittier’s orchards and fruit packing origins. We climbed the trees, played cowboys and Indians, and ran around carefree. We were truly free-range children. I don’t know how many of those boys got drafted and sent to Vietnam.

In contrast to growing up in one of the world’s newest cities fast becoming a megalopolis, I spent at least one month a year in south western New Mexico visiting my mother’s parents and all of her cowboy/settler relatives. They all lived near the world’s first designated wilderness area and the adjacent Gila National Forest. This area is still one of the least populated in the continental US. I’ve spent many days exploring the natural landscape, native archeological sites, native pueblos and reservations, Mexican villages, and historic “Western” towns and other locations.

My father and I belonged to the YMCA “Indian Guides” (now YMCA Adventure Guides) and we learned about Native American tribes and their cultures, especially their crafts. My father’s hobby was finding and collecting American gemstone and making lapidary jewelry. We were “rock hounds” and my experience in jewelry making led directly to my becoming a scientific glassblower. But that’s another story…

My lifelong interest in geography, history, and all the cultures in North America has led me to visit nearly all the Canadian provinces and US states, and most of Mexico’s northern states. I have driven from LA to Vancouver to St Johns Newfoundland to Washington D.C. to St. Louis and home. I have also driven from LA to Key West, Florida, and from Tampa Bay, Florida, to Newport, Rhode Island. I have traveled by train to Mexico City and from Seattle to Philadelphia. Every place I visit I explore the ‘park lands’, history, and cultures that create the local landscape, especially any native cultures that survived the European conquest.

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Hi Mark I read all this and it was really interesting to read your story and how far you have travelled, and your experiences and explorations during your working and later life.

Cheers, Lesley

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So well braided, Mark. It seems like all these places, but not just the places themselves but the activities you did and people interconnected. I am braiding inside my own experiences in that southwest corner of New Mexico. And mineral hunting, yes.

Thanks for adding here

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