Tuesday, June 21, 2016
This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick
Melody Warnick and her family were eager to move to Blacksburg from Austin, Texas, when her husband, an English professor, landed a job at Virginia Tech. Warnick had just turned thirty-six, and the family's average stay in any city was 3.2 years. But, she wasn't immediately drawn to Blacksburg in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a journalist, she decided to examine the idea of making a city into a place to love. "What if a place becomes the right place only by our choosing to love it?" She made a conscious effort to love Blacksburg, Virginia.
Because she's a journalist, Warnick set about methodically learning to love Blacksburg. She interviewed people, studied why people gravitate to one place or another, how they become involved in a city, what connects them to other people there. Walking the city, learning to find your way around it is an important step, and walkable cities are inviting to outsiders. She has a chapter about buying local, supporting local stores that make the community different from other cities. Meet your neighbors. Learn what is fun to do in your city. Get out into nature. Volunteer in order to feel as if you are helping your community. Eat local food. Get involved in local politics. Create something. The "Stay Loyal" chapter was fascinating, focusing on people who suffered through tragedies in their cities. As Melody Warnick worked through her experiment, she found herself more attached to Blacksburg.
This Is Where You Belong is a fascinating book. And, maybe I found it so fascinating because it explained a great deal about my own passion for Arizona. That was the one place I lived as an adult that I took most of the steps Warnick mentions, although I'd consider "home" the Phoenix area, not just Glendale. I walked, supported local businesses, volunteered, did so much that was fun, and even found my third place there. Warnick and others refer to it as "place attachment".
It would be interesting to see if Warnick's process works for people, if they can force a place to feel like home. As I said, This Is Where You Belong is a fascinating book. I just don't know when/if I'll find that place again for myself, and, honestly, I'm not willing, right now, to put that kind of effort into it.
Melody Warnick's website is www.melodywarnick.com
This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick. Viking. 2016. ISBN 9780525429128 (hardcover), 298p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.