The location with which I have a sense of place is Reading, Massachusetts. This small, suburban town has been my home for 19 years, and continues to be my home even while I am at college. Reading has a population of about 25,000 citizens, each of varying economical statuses, however, the most fall within middle-class to upper-class. For a town of a relatively large population, the 9.9 square mile area of its borders are small compared to the sister towns of Woburn and North Reading. Zooming in on the houses and their architecture, the mostly cape-style homes of this town in the Middlesex county display the style of the year the town was founded, (1644). While many of the homes are new and display more modern styles, they each carry some small tribute to the houses they were before renovations. Many of these houses include backyards and front yards of generous sizes, while some only contain small front yards, (mostly the homes closer to the town center). The homes with larger yards can be found on the outer fringes of the town. The homes with smaller yards are representative of the properties closer to the Reading Town Center. This center includes newly renovated shops, restaurants, businesses, and necessary walkways and parking spots. Something important to mention about Reading is that it includes a train station along the purple line, or the commuter rain, which travels directly into North Station in Boston. This train station allows its residents to have easy access into the city, and allows for a public transportation alternative, which is a positive impact on the environment.
On the topic of the environment, Reading pays close attention to aesthetics and public décor. The town constantly decorates for various holidays, has hired, professional landscapers manage the public lands/gardens, and encourages its residents to take pride in their own lawns and the state of their houses. With an emphasis on aesthetics, the town in-turn pays attention and cares for the environment. Reading requires recycling, makes it possible for its residents to compost, and even offers its own electric and heating company that runs entirely on natural gas. While this idea that Reading was “ahead of its time” in terms of conservation is a new concept to me, it gives purpose to my reasoning for coming to UVM. Knowing that the place I come from is environmentally friendly makes me feel proud at my college. I feel as though my home cares just as much as my college home, and coincidently, it makes me feel more at home while I am away. Just as UVM highlights the importance of sustainability and conservation to its students on campus, my small town of Reading puts forth similar information that is available for the citizens to become educated about and take part in if they so choose.
The sense of place I feel for my hometown stems from the land itself. Growing up, I was one of the kids who had a big backyard. Within this large area of land to roam, I discovered my love for nature and being outdoors. Whether I was playing with my dogs, picking the small yellow dandelions as they sprouted in the spring, making “potions” out of the weird plants and mushrooms on the outskirts of the property, or just simply laying in the thick, manicured grass, I felt connected to the earth, my home, and a larger universe. My entire persona, well-being, and health stems back to my home. My home is the place I could find shelter in when I was sad, run through and shout when I was happy, and be my crazy, unfiltered self.
My new home at the University of Vermont shares the concern for the generations that follow mine just as my first home does. Knowing I am surrounded by unique people from their own homes where they have their sense of place is slightly overwhelming and scary. But, when I begin to feel homesick, I think back to laying in the grass in my backyard as a child and remember that I am here to make a difference for the environment. So that children of the future have beautiful natural areas to find comfort in, just as I did in Reading, Massachusetts: my location of sense of place