Dwelling: Making Peace with Space and Place

Essay by cobeloveyouCollege, UndergraduateA-, March 2004

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To say dwell somewhere implies permanence. But at root "dwell" means to pause or delay. J. B. Jackson said that dwell is a speak of habits rather than years of a place becoming customary. Habits are acquired, and they form over time. With disuse they are forgotten. To dwell in a place rather than simply exist in it seems to allow adaptive habits to form an act of accommodation.

A home and its land were once widely understood as belonging to a family forever. Even today, most people in the world are born and die within a radius of a few miles. But 20 to 30 percent of Americans move each year, and the average American moves 14 times over a lifetime. The American dream requires that you own your home, but American rarely stay in a home longer than five years. To change not just your home or town, but the region of the country you live in, is understood as the way to change your life, and we aim to do that often.

Numerous milestones-college, marriage, birth of children, a new job, divorce, retirement-almost require a change of location. In fact, to stay in one place for life is often interpreted as being unambitious, unadventurous-a negation of American values. Moving up to the world means moving on. Home is where we know and are know through accumulated experience.

Early late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a parish had been circular in conception, its village at the center of a ring of three of four large shared fields around which crops and cattle were rotated. John Clare and others like him who had rarely been outside their own parishes were caught in a moment of violent physical and social transformation. Removed from Hephston, where his family had farmed for generations,