Natural Heritage of Indiana

Participate in the Natural Heritage of Indiana

Want to become a member in a wildlife organization? How can you do your part to conserve? Interested in being involved in excursions to explore the biota of Indiana? Searching for a way to contribute to the project?

Some ways you can take part to sustain the Natural Heritage of Indiana:

What is a Sense of Place and Why Should I Care?

Community planners, developers, conservationist, and others have long focused on economics, engineering, and environmental improvements in their land use planning efforts. Now some are becoming more aware of trying to include a “Sense of Place” as part of their planning efforts. The internet encyclopedia Wikipedia says a “Sense of Place” has been defined and utilized in different ways by different people. To some, it is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not. While to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself). It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.

placeCultural geographers, anthropologists, sociologists and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or peoples. Places said to have a strong "sense of place" have a strong identity and character that is deeply felt by local inhabitants and by many visitors. Sense of place is a social phenomenon that exists independently of any one individual's perceptions or experiences, yet is dependent on human engagement for its existence. Such a feeling may be derived from the natural environment, but is more often made up of a mix of natural and cultural features in the landscape, and generally includes the people who occupy the place. A sense of place may be strongly enhanced by the place being written about by poets and novelists, or portrayed in art or music.

Sense of place is important in any discussion of land conservation and growth management because sprawl development tends to eliminate unique features of the landscape. “Smart Growth” advocates are saying, “Community design is about place making. The physical layout of the community can and should connect people with each other, with the community, and with the surrounding countryside”. The National Trust for Historic Preservation offers a straightforward approach, calling sense of place, “Those things that add up to a feeling that a community is a special place, distinct from anywhere else”.

Places that lack a sense of place are sometimes referred to as "placeless" or "inauthentic." Placeless landscapes are those that have no special relationship to the places in which they are located-they could be anywhere. Roadside strip shopping malls, gas/petrol stations and convenience stores, fast food chains, and chain department stores are often cited as examples of placeless landscape elements. Even some historic sites or districts that have been heavily commercialized for tourism and new housing estates are sometimes defined as having lost their sense of place.

A sense of place based approach to land use planning challenges us all to consider protecting, preserving and enhancing places felt to be of value. Wendell Berry, a farmer and writer from Kentucky, says, “If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are”. With a sense of place, your identity is defined-to a significant extent-by the natural features of the place where you live. Without a sense of place, what will fill the void? So the question is, how important is it for you that your community works harder to define its “Sense of Place”?


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Don't want to join a club, but want to participate in outings? Calendar Would you rather search for ways to participate by date or location? Make sure you check out our NHI events calendar. Rather than organizations and clubs, the events calendar features meetings and outings related to nature in Indiana.

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