Growing up, my family and I moved around a fair amount. Because of this, I found it difficult to identify the special places from my childhood (or otherwise). I experienced the early years of my life in a few different places, and had so many options to choose from. After further reflection, I realized the various locations I had lived growing up were my special places. They contained all of the people, events, and sub-places that shaped my identity, certainly serving as special to me.
I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan where I lived for the first four years of my life. It was here that I said my first words, took my first steps, and experienced a variety of other typical “firsts”. I came to know the cold prairie winters and sunny summer days. Family and culture surrounded me, influencing me as I began to construct the first pieces of my self-identity. Regina was my first home, and continues to hold a special place in my heart.
After my time spent in Regina, my family and I moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa. Over the next three years, I began school, developed friendships, and had my first experiences in organized activities. I became accustomed the mild winters, hot summers, and numerous other changes that accompany moving to the United States. As I continued to grow, I began to understand the juxtaposition of my first home with my current one. My new surroundings challenged and shaped my first constructions of self-identity, providing me with valuable learning experiences along the way. To this day, I still have vivid memories of my foreign home.
When I was seven, my family and I returned home to Canada, moving to Yorkton, Saskatchewan. I adjusted to the new school, made new friends, and continued to grow in my experiences. I was glad to be in a place that felt more like my first home, and settled from the move more easily this time. I became familiar with cold winters once again and grew to know the farm fields. Some of the knowledge and practices I acquired in the states were challenged (mostly in school), and so I revised my identity once again. I picked pieces of my American identity to keep and began growing in my Saskatchewan identity again.
Two years later, my family and I made our final move back home to Regina, where we currently reside. I started at a new school for the second time, and made another new set of friends. I learned more about traditional Saskatchewan landscape and history, appreciating it more throughout the years. In addition, I continued to grow in all aspects of my life, understanding more about myself and my surroundings. Over the next eleven years, I transitioned from elementary school, to high school, and finally to university. I continued to learn, gain experiences (good and bad), and construct my identity, resulting in who I am today. I will always remember my special places and fondly remember how they have shaped me.
My visual representation is inspired by the quote “I am bound to the earth by a web of stories” – Scott Russell Saunders (as found on p. 174 the Community Story Circle reading). The Regina skyline, Iowa state outline, and Yorkton house logo represent my special places, in the cycle which they occurred (starting at the top and moving clockwise). My special places are the locations of my stories, which in my visual are literally bounding me to the earth in a web.
Reasoning and explanation for the stories I have shared are rooted in the article referenced above. As the article mentions, I tell these stories because they are part of me. They are what I value, what I want to share, and how I want you to know me (p. 175). They are part of my personal epistemology. Likewise, sharing my own personal stories as a valid way of knowing can be compared to the personal stories shared throughout the blanket exercise. Those personal stories are also considered to be valid forms of epistemology, and reveal truths about the people’s lives that share them (p. 177). In addition, the stories strongly connect knowledge with place (p.181). They strive to provoke emotion from participants so that they will be remembered, and can potentially change the feelings and behaviours of those who experience them (p.181).