A True Sense of Place – Your Pocono Mountain Community

By: Don Hannig

“If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are. Without a sense of place, what will fill the void?” ~ Wendell Berry, Bioregionalist

A very basic and essential human trait is the need to belong. We are genetically wired to live in family units, as part of a larger group – in a sense, a community. We take pleasure in these distinctive recognizable locations we reside in, and attach our warm feelings to them – the very definition of a sense of place.

A strong sense of place supports a feeling of personal identity. By being a piece of a whole community, our own individuality is enhanced. We are unique and individual through belonging to a larger unit! The challenge that faces forward-thinking residential planners and builders of today lies with the creation of a sense of place within a new community, in an age where sprawl and the disintegration of our towns and cities is the norm.

Implications For Design & Planning

“Placeless” landscapes are those that have no special relationships or history with the area they are located within. Strip malls, gas stations, convenience stores, and giant housing complexes are prime examples of places without meaning. So what tools can residential developers use to create a sense of place within a community?

Utilize Physical Setting. This includes incorporating natural elements and original topographies into the design plan, as well as providing access to nature immediately adjacent to a developed area.

Utilize Recreational Grounds. Shared recreational grounds, such as playground areas, open spaces, and picnic pavilions can provide a shared sense of place and community belonging.

Utilize Neighborhood Covenants. Joint agreements between members of a community can go a long way to strengthen ties and a sense of pride in a locality, as well as protect the community against devaluation through neglect or misuse.

Utilize An Enhanced Entrance. An architecturally designed entrance will enhance sense of place and provide a communal visual point and a feeling of coming home.

Implications For Individual Lifestyle

The development of a sense of place provides more than community pride; it can make a significant impact on an individual’s lifestyle and physical/mental well-being. It can provide:

Feeling of Attachment and Belonging. This reduces anxiety and stress in the individual’s daily life by giving comfort and a sense of being part of a larger unit.

Desire To Protect the Community. This feeling of responsibility is critical in providing a safe haven for future generations; we all strive to build a sense of place within a community for our children.

Enhanced Safety. The freedom for our children to roam in a safe environment, in the manner that many of the elders in the community used to, is a huge plus.

Access To The Environment. Access to the outdoors is critical in the stimulation of a child’s creativity and sensitivity to nature, as well as helping to build each child’s sense of place.

Not only does an enhanced sense of place provide benefits to the community and the individuals within, it also helps to preserve the past history of an area. The Pocono Mountains region is ripe with a unique cultural heritage, and its own sense of place helps to promote cultural awareness and strong kinship ties among its inhabitants.

In an environment as rich in cultural and environmental diversity as The Pocono Mountains, our residents convey the need for cutting-edge community design and residential planning through responsible land-use decisions. Does your residential community fit the bill?

To find out more about the benefits of energy efficiency and green building please call Keswick Point, the region’s newest PRD, at 570-646-4646, email us at info@keswickpointe.com or visit our website at keswickpointe.com.

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