Sense of Place

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”

-Aldo Leopold

Becoming Part of the Belgrade Lakes Community

When a place is described, it is often dictated by the formal definition based on political or administrative function. These definitions are generally valid, but place can also be defined by physical characteristics, the Belgrade Lakes region be a valid example. The EPA defines a place as an area 1.) “having formal political or administrative boundaries, such as a city, town, or neighborhood,” 2.)  “having natural boundaries, such as landscape features, rivers and streams, watersheds, or sensitive areas such as special wildlife features,” 3.) “defined by physical infrastructure, such as highways or solid waste facilities or key landmarks such as statues, parks, or other historical sites,” or 4.) “defined by a specific problem, such as a Superfund site.”[1]

Sense of place goes beyond the physical place. It is the confluence of the physical, tangible place, with the “narratives, rituals, values, and sensory perceptions,” or the intangible.[2] It is the culmination of nostalgia from memory that is inextricably, but not always temporally, linked to a place.

As demonstrated by Fleming and Love (2012), there is a strong between the health of the ecological community, and the community of people who enjoy the region. As put by a stakeholder in the Belgrade Lakes Region, “if the lakes fail, the community will fail.”[3] It is a matter of directing knowledge at people who cannot comprehend the regional scale of an issue like water quality. As demonstrated, there are a lot of factors that influence the water quality of a lake, including the waters that feed the lake, and the land use captured by the lake’s catchment area. It is imperative to reach folks who share a stake in these areas, regardless of their level of knowledge on the subject of limnology, human impacts on lakes, and lake impacts on humans.


[1] US EPA (2012)

[2] Fleming, J. R. and Erin Love. (2012).

[3] Fleming, J. R., and Erin Love (2012)

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