People, Place and Purpose
Place really does matter….
Place really does matter. Home, school, and community all have a profound impact on who we will become.
This summer, I spent some time on Fogo Island (Newfoundland) and came to appreciate “place” in a very different way. It is not simply where you live, but something that resides within you and becomes an integral part of who you are. Zita Cobb, founder of the Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Inn believes in the inherent value of place and a respect for the “human ways of knowing that emerge from respectful relationships with culture and community.” When she retired from her business life in California, having become a multi-millionaire in the fibre optics industry, she decided to return to Fogo Island, the place that was instrumental in creating the person she had become. She holds a deep-seated respect for the place - the island - that gave her a sense of her own identity, wherever she is.
I wonder if our society’s focus on mobility and economic growth has made us lose sight of the importance of place and therefore impacted our capacity to nurture healthy and resilient individuals with a unique sense of self. The importance of place and how place itself is a reflection of one’s values has to be considered when addressing global-mindedness. People, who know from where they come, and are confident about sharing that with others, create a powerful and diverse network based on values and relationships. This network allows us to share our local engagement on a global scale.
Education’s piece of the puzzle is to encourage and inspire strong, happy and resilient people, in Trafalgar’s case women, who contribute to society. Trafalgar’s community emphasizes the importance our place in downtown Montreal because we believe belonging to something, bigger than yourself, helps build identity and one’s capacity to give back. That symbiotic relationship is at the core of humanistic society, something that cannot be forgotten as we embrace the future in its global reality
That being said, each day I work alongside the people who make this place what it is which in turn allows us to empower our girls to change the world. With Thanksgiving just behind us, I give thanks for the value of place at Trafalgar and the people that make it so.
If the concept of place in developing identity is of interest to you, I suggest you read Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity and Civic Life in Modern America (published by McClay and McAllister). It is a compelling read that has us pause, and think about where it is we want to be.