How has your environment shaped you?

Community Engagement Workshops have been held throughout the year with topics like Voter Registration & Census, Ethics and Practices of Community Engagement, and Power and Privilege. All these workshops can be very beneficial to understanding your community and figuring out how to become more involved. The Importance of Place Workshop discussed very important and relevant topics that we can all learn from. Let's take a deep dive and discover why it is beneficial to consider the importance of a place, from where you are born, to where you are now.

On April 8, 2020, a Community Engagement Workshop was held via zoom where we learned some new things about ourselves and our community. Thanks to our wonderful host Ann Shulte, we were able discuss the Importance of Place and how our environment shapes our perception and understanding of our community. Reflecting on this impacts how we view service and volunteering.

"An understanding of place is key to understanding the nature of our relationships with each other and the world.”

The Beginning

The majority of you probably identify strongly with your hometown, whether it be Chico or another place, and this can have a huge impact on our personal growth. Each and every one of us has had a different childhood experience, we have all grown up in different homes and view the world from our own eyes.

Some of us consider the people in our lives, such as parents, neighbors, friends, idols, etc., and how they have been influential in our understanding and personal growth. At other times we think about the positive and negative effects of our experiences- the things we have done or have happened to us. Your place is at the intersection of these thoughts, it is what ties these two perceptions together, which ultimately forms who you are.

Think about where you grew up and who was around, how do you think this exact place in your timeline has influenced the way you see the world?

This is your background, and it shapes your identity within your race, class, gender, religion, language, hobbies, skills, roles, talents- essentially everything that makes you who you are. How do you think living in a different area, being around certain people, affects your individual perspective? There is a difference in all of us because of these factors.

Urban vs. Rural

Now let's start to break down the location. What does it mean to be urban or rural? How does this impact our identity?

The literal environment in which we grow up has a greater impact than you would usually reflect on. Think about your hometown and if you consider it rural or urban, and this differs with everyone. Consider Chico, for example some people may see it as a small town because they are from a more urbanized area. To others Chico is a big city compared to their more rural beginnings. It all depends on our individual perceptions and this is key to understanding Importance of Place.

During the workshop, Schulte played a game where the viewers had to guess if she was from an urban or rural area by only asking 20 questions with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Some of the questions asked included: What is your favorite mode of transportation? Are you good with direction? Is there nightlife? Do you have a close-knit neighborhood? You can probably see the intentions of these questions in deciding between an urban or rural location. A lot of people may attach stereotypes based on the initial look of the area, but to understand the soul of a community, is to look deeper and discover things that make that area unique- like it’s history!

Photo from Chico State Today

Historic Chico

Before we go any further in this post, let us stop and recognize the historical land Chico resides on. Originally, these lands belonged to the Mechoopda tribe located only 3 ½ miles south of downtown. Because of this history, there is a connected spirit to the land and the water that runs through campus. We are so humbled to have Chico State reside on these sacred lands once sustained by the Mechoopda people. It is so important for us to recognize how special it is to be living on this land that has so much history and distinctive spirit and how this has shaped the community of Chico today.

As a campus and community, how do we honor the Mechoopda land? Individually, and as a community, we need to remember to appreciate and honor the land we stand on. For many years, the Mechoopda tribe felt repressed and unwelcomed on their own land because of the mistreatment and unfairness of past negotiations. To recognize their footprint on this land is to strengthen their importance of place and the community as a whole.

The Present

Around the globe, these past couple of months have been difficult due to the pandemic, but there is no better time than now to reflect on the importance of place and how it has shaped you. While you stay at home, whether you are quarantined with family or with friends, think about the aspects of your life that have been meaningful as well as the small details. Because every person you have met, every experience you have had, has led you to your current perception of the world. What does this mean to you and from this, how would you place yourself in your community?

Service can look different to all of us; whether it be volunteering with the animal shelter, supporting the homeless community, maintaining the parks, or teaching kids- the most important thing is to discover your place in the community and form that into how you engage within your community. CAVE provides these workshops to give our volunteers the opportunity to experience a lesson in critical thinking in relation to the community and how these lessons can be applied to your own life and self-improvement.

We are hoping you are feeling a bit more enlightened about your place in this world and its importance after reading this. Here's a reflection sheet to collect your thoughts!