Sense of Place: where’s your sit spot?

Drew Harwell (in cap) talking about Sense of Place

Drew Harwell (in cap) talking about Sense of Place

Last weekend, I attended the second session of the Be the Change Environmental Leadership Program.  We met at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills, and it was a perfect environment to think about affecting change to benefit the environment.

One of the speakers was Drew Harwell, who is a naturalist, farmer and garden educator at Common Ground who took us through an exercise to get a Sense of Place.

What I got from this was the idea of paying attention with all the senses–hearing, smell, touch/feel, taste and the most used, sight–to an environment.  In this case, we were in a protected wilderness area, which is close enough to roads that we could hear some cars nearby, but also chickens, insects and the wind blowing across the grass and through the leaves of trees.  I live in the city, and I realized that I had not really just sat and listened for a long time.

Drew called this the Sit Spot, and encouraged us to find our sit spot, where we could go regularly to open the senses and observe.  Observe at different times of day, of the year, to experience the changes over time, the natural movement with the seasons.  He said that urban sit spots work, too, and mentioned eco-city leader Richard Register‘s urban sit spot, at a cafe where he could observe what’s going on in the communty.

So how does this relate to Everyday Sustainable?  I think that a big part of living every day with an intention to make sustainable choices is about paying attention.  And this includes understanding the environment (with a small “e”) around us.  What is the Place in which I spend my time?  What is going on there, and what can I learn by observing?

And taking time to be quiet and listen at a “sit spot” is like having a meditation practice.  And that is definitely beneficial for personal wellness.

So, where’s your sit spot?  What’s your sense of place?

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3 Responses to Sense of Place: where’s your sit spot?

  1. Lisa says:

    Nice post, Wako. Thank you for writing and sharing this experience. I also enjoyed your post about the swaps.

  2. JanCoad says:

    Hi … what a great retreat. Thanks for posting this.

    I am trying to write a fiction novel and a collection of personal essays about life raising two special needs children. My sit spot escape is my back yard koi pond with a water feature. I love to sit and listen to the water fall. Next to our pond is a curly willow tree.

    I spend a great deal of time here listening to the birds and the water. On two occasions I have even caught great blue herrons and also a few eagles fishing in our pond.

    Other times, I like to “sit” at busy restaurants when I am writing. I find great character traits and information for writing. People watching as well as watching nature are hobbies of mine.


  3. D. says:

    From- D. at

    The ‘Sense of Place’ photo with Drew Harwell looks like Vermont Wilderness School. I remember a wonderful week there in Jon Young’s ‘Art of Mentoring’, and an exceptional weekend with Paul Raphael who led a ‘Sacred Fire’ ‘workshop’ (no work, no shop…LOL) That weekend with Paul was only second in importance in my life to my having studied tracking for the first time with John Stokes of ‘The Tracking Project’ in his workshop ‘Arts of Life’.

    Thanks for sharing the photo and writeup. Saw the link On Debra’s ‘Rooted In Nature Blog’.

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