Wallace Stegner writes "...the knowledge of place comes from working in it in all weathers, making a living from it, suffering from its catastrophes..."
In her meditations on the Poetics of Place, Eudora Welty adds "...feelings are bound up in place, and in art, from time to time, place undoubtedly works upon genius..."
From architectural regionalism to the notion of terroir, many human values and cultural identities are rooted in the idea of "place."
This summer, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at SSU has been exploring "place" in Sonoma County through its art, history, landscape, food and wine as curators, writers, vintners, naturalists, scholars, artists, chefs and historians led talks and tours both on the SSU campus and in the surrounding communities. More than 200 have joined in the experience with 20 percent new to OLLI.
The 2014 Place Project culminates with Place Matters from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29 in the new Student Center. This free celebration features opening remarks by regional historian Gaye LeBaron.
The event also includes OLLI students reflecting on their own sense of place, SSU faculty speakers, an art exhibition, catered lunch, entertainment from Broadway Under the Stars performers, and SSU student musicians.
Senses of Place, a commemorative anthology will be given to everyone who attends. Essays and poetry in the anthology treat subjects of love, solace, nature, lifecycles, escape, community, seasons, sensory experience, and loss.
Senses of Place weaves together OLLI student writings with place-inspired images, reproduced from original art work in the exhibition of the same name at THE HUB in the Student Center through July 31.
The musings on place began off-campus, with a series of June explorations to art museums, historic sites and nature preserves, immersing students in the natural and cultural history of Sonoma County.
Each thread (art, history and science) had three destinations where scholars, curators and researchers welcomed OLLI students with a lecture and a tour.
Throughout the month of July, speakers from the worlds of food and wine, including producers, purveyors, chefs and culinary historians regaled OLLI students with gastronomic tales of Sonoma County. James Beard award winners and masters of terroir came together in Taste Matters, the OLLI version of food and wine pairings, held at the new SSU Student Center.
Sociologist Ray Oldenburg, in his work The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community, shares the concept of "third places" (in contrast to first and second places of home and work).
These sites of social activity, where adults gather on a regular basis, triangulate the social, behavioral and cognitive aspects of contemporary culture. "In its purest form, OLLI provides a third place for older adults while providing quality pathways for lifelong learning in the context of campus life," says Director Carin Jacobs.
OLLI Off Campus and Taste Matters are generously supported by Connie Codding.
Place Matters is generously supported by a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation.
To learn more or inquire about joining the "Place Project," contact
Carin Jacobs, OLLI Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-664-3927.
Above, OLLI students visit historical museum in Sonoma Valley. (Photo by Lindajoy Fenley)
Middle "Sonoma Country Barn" by Marcia Fosberg