Sense of Place
The Chesapeake is lined by long, low points of land, sheltering countless creeks and coves. In the fall and winter, a dwindling number of skipjacks still hoist their white sails in pursuit of Bay oysters. All summer, before dawn, low-slung workboats stacked with pots or equipped with coiled trotlines head out of Bayside harbors to catch the blue crab.
All these images and many more characterize the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest — and historically richest — estuary. But what does the average citizen of the region think about the Bay as a "place"? What does "sense of place" mean not only to watermen, but to others who live around the Bay? Does the Bay really play a central role in their mental lives, helping to shape — perhaps in subtle ways — how they feel about where they live, and even how they feel about who they are?
Sense of Place StudiesTo help explore the nature of the connection between the citizens of the region and the physical, ecological, and social context of where they live — their "sense of place" — the Maryland Sea Grant College has supported work by ethnologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and others interested in the relation between human society and place. These studies have examined:
Land UseWhat sense of place means in a mostly rural Bayside area such as Calvert County, Maryland, for example, where a quiet tradition of agriculture and fishing has collided with heavy development pressures from nearby urban areas, especially Washington, D.C.
Ecological Restoration and the Concept of Place
Law & CultureHow current laws and regulations, meant to help "save the Bay," affect Bay watermen, one of the groups most directly dependant on the health and productivity of the estuary.
Environmental Protection and Watermen Communities: Assessing the Effects of New Initiatives on Old Ways of Life
Environmental ThreatsHow different groups – farmers, watermen, scientists, environmentalists – react to an environmental threat such as the toxic dinoflagellate Pfiesteria piscicida.
Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Land Use in the Patuxent Watershed
Report of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Citizens Pfiesteria Action Commission