What considerations go into a sense of place?

Consider three authors:

Williams, love of the land, place inspired writing, and an erotics of places.
Jackson, the attempt to universalize characteristics drawn from the Southwest.
Siry, the importance of nature study and science in changing attitudes and policies.

Compare and contrast their different subjects, specialties and approaches:

Williams -- A Journal of remembered places, people and events.
Jackson -- A collection of essays defining places, time, features, specifics and generalities. Landscape history.
Siry -- a geographical, ecological, cultural and legal description of coastal water bodies. (places)


Authors Williams Jackson Siry
subjects Personal narrative Loss of familiar space Estuaries described
specialty naturalist Cultural geographer Ecological history
approach Descriptively provocative Authoritatively analytical Legal and cultural synthesis

Land is not merely a section of earth or an expanse of territory, but a living organism.

Why? Because

Williams says the Earth and its varied landscapes make up a fickle, yet constant lover.

Jackson says land is landscape comprised of a geological and a human prehistory that sometimes can still be deciphered from clues left behind by past occupants.

Siry explains that with respect to the coast's least appreciated parcels, human ideas about estuarine marshes, waters and landscapes have undergone dramatic changes in three centuries.


Williams explains normal and Jackson examines landscape and garden.

When combining these two authorities we have a clue to why certain features of a land area, or space have profound meaning for us, such as forests, plazas, churches, or cross roads.

What about gardens?

Don't they have literal, figurative and proverbial meaning for us?

Literally, they are planted areas with domesticated or wild specimens we can eat or admire.

Figuratively, any garden is a creation where people use water, elements, & features to grow things

Proverbially, gardens are the source of Judeo-Christian & Islamic creation, fall and redemption.

Since we have seen that the word Weal has an etymology that reveals the importance of forests and trees or woodlands, we can conclude that places may be more than the mere sums of their respective parts.

Wealth and natural habitat.

Hence: any place or places are made up of: water, energy. air, land and a related set of dimensions.

Living Downstream

Williams | Jackson | Siry

Terry Tempest Williams | George Perkins Marsh | Gerald Durrell | D. H. Lawrence | Arnold Pacey | Tim Radford
Norris Hundley | Mary Austin | Leo Marx | John Wesley Powell | Wallace Stegner | Siry, Marshes