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It is through the process of defining what we want as a town that we are becoming a real community. It is through the act of participation that we change.
This is not simply a story of not-in-my-backyard. It is the unfolding tale of how a small community … is rising to its own defense, saying, we believe we have a stake in the future of our own community, which we choose to define beyond our own boundaries of time and space and species…
A crisis woke us up. A shared love of place opened a dialogue with neighbors. We asked for help. We found partners. We used our collective intelligence to formulate a plan. And then we had to search within ourselves to find what each of us had to give.
In my private moments of despair, I am aware of the limits of my own imagination. I am learning . . . that imaginations shared invite collaboration and collaboration creates community. A life in association, not a life independent, is the democratic ideal. We participate in the vitality of the struggle.
…We trust—and trust is imperative—that we can create an economically viable and ecologically sustainable plan for the town, the land, and its creatures…
In our increasingly fundamentalist country, we have to remember what is fundamental: gravity—what draws us to a place and keeps us there, like love, like kinship. When we commit to a particular place, a certain element of choice is removed. We begin to see the world whole instead of fractured. Long-term strategies replace short-term gains. We inform one another and become an educated public that responds.
— Terry Tempest Williams, author and environmental activist, in The Open Space of Democracy
Please share your thoughts regarding sense of place and environmental consciousness. What does the quotation above mean to you? Are these words, originally detailing efforts to think critically and preserve wild lands in Southern Utah, applicable to Rochester? Do they relate to loss of the Hojack Swing Bridge, the Cataract Brewery buildings, St. Ann’s tower, Our Lady of Mercy rectory in Greece, and the proposed demolition of the Iola Tuberculosis Sanitarium campus buildings for CityGate? Is there a community of people out there that cares about development in general in Rochester or in particular in the city, the rate and, more significantly, types of “growth” that we are witnessing, the loss of more of Rochester’s historic fabric, and the limited number of projects with any “green” features and elements? What are your thoughts?
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About Joel Helfrich:
Joel Helfrich is a father, educator, historian, and activist who works on animal rights, environmental, historic and sacred sites preservation, and social justice issues.
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3 Responses to “Sense of Place: Lessons from Elsewhere”
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.