I finished This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick, on finding belonging wherever you live, very relevant in the year of our horde 2020 when most of us are the least physically mobile we’ve been in years. Warnick discusses place attachment, and measuring this attachment, as well as feeling connected to the civic goings-on of a city.
When I first moved to Tucson, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the city, and figured I wouldn’t be here for very long. Work travel and chronic illness made it hard to commit to anything long-term, so I didn’t get involved in many things outside of work.
Sometime in the last few years, I started taking a bit of responsibility for enjoying Tucson. I realized I agreed with most of the statements in Warnick’s first list, and could answer ‘yes’ to all but one item on the latter. It’s been an interesting transition, and this book has helped me articulate that I’ve been engaging in better practices for intentionally appreciating and eventually loving where I live. I am taking responsibility for Tucson as my home.
How do you love where you live? How do you want your city or home to be during the pandemic? What would you like it to be afterward? How can you ensure it’s more of a place you, and others, love?
In thinking about marking my birthday later this month, I’d like to encourage you all to find ways to strengthen communities in your vicinity. Maybe that means committing to buying from local (Black-owned) businesses instead of chain stores for one thing a month for the foreseeable future (and choosing restaurants only offering takeout/delivery, not dine-in). Join the food co-op, get thread for masks from the local fabric store, buy curbside from the hardware store, start repeating donations to local nonprofits. Does your local nonprofit have ways you can help them with tasks that can be done from home or safely distanced? Your local mutual aid effort would probably appreciate help with coordinating volunteers. Maybe it means instigating small, random acts of happiness, whether chalking messages on sidewalks, sending compliments to friends or acquaintances, or leaving gift cards for grocery stores to people who’d benefit from them. Call into city meetings—things are far more accessible now, ironically, because of video conferencing—or find other ways to be civically involved. Switch over to the local credit union. See who’s keeping their employees and customers safe right now, and keep your dollars in the community by spending them there.
Speaking of civic engagement, Gabriella Cázares-Kelly is running for Pima County recorder. When she wins, she’ll be the first Native woman elected to county office. She has a ton of plans for improving (access to) voting in Pima County, and if you have a few dollars, she’s got some great “Indigenous Woman Coming Through!” stickers. (This endorsement has not been paid for by the candidate.)
I stumbled across this book because I’d won a photo contest run by the Living Streets Alliance and they sent me a gift card to Why I Love Where I Live. Browsing their site, I purchased AnIndigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, The Line Becomes A River; and Dunbar: The Neighborhood, the School, and the People, 1940-1965. I started reading the latter; what a fascinating history of Tucson’s historically Black neighborhood and school, particularly how they got their early principals. The other interesting-looking books I put on hold at the library, including Warnick’s.