Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Forces of Geography

Yesterday, via Skyping and conference call, we all talked about the forces of geography. The PULL toward a place. The PUSH away from a place. Sometimes, the combination of both. 

You all mentioned times in human history where humans like yourselves were pushed away from a place or pulled toward a place. 

In our own country, you talked about Westward Expansion...people pulled toward gold, land, adventure. 

I think about the Dust Bowl and the Depression and all those families from the Oklahoma Panhandle (find it on the map!) who left their cattle dying in their fields, left the dust on their dinner plates and on their piano keys and came west, PUSHED by the drought, the wind, the overused & unforgiving land (read Out of the Dust or Grapes of Wrath) This is a photograph by Dorthea Lange. You should look for more of her photographs of the Dust Bowl era.

You all mentioned other movements, too:  

Jewish immigrants to our country from Poland and Russia, pushed out because they couldn't practice their religion, but pulled by the promise of religious freedom; 

the Irish pushed from Ireland because of famine, but pulled because of a promise of "streets paved with gold;" 

the people of Mexico, Central, South America pushed by political unrest and poverty and pulled here by the promise of jobs; 

the people from Africa pulled here, YANKED, rather, by our need for slaves; 

the people from everywhere pulled here by our education system.

Then I asked you all to close your eyes, picture yourselves at home in Truckee, your bodies bigger, yourselves older, and to imagine whether you wanted to stay in Truckee or leave. 

All of you except Nicholas wanted to leave Truckee. Why? What was the push? You wanted to leave because you'd KNOWN Truckee all your lives. You were PULLED by adventure, the need to experience something new. Many of you wanted to go to Italy, some to British Columbia, some to year-round warm weather, some to Stanford, some to a place that was just-plain BIGGER than Truckee. 

But not one of you HAD to leave. 

What would it feel like to have to leave? To flee war, famine, drought, lack of medical help, poverty, overpopulation, religious discrimination. Wow. 

What would you take with you, knowing you might never come back home

Next week, you'll be visiting with immigrants. Please collect two things: One, a  physical thing you would take to remind you of this place you call home, Truckee; two, a photograph of what you love about this physical environment. 

Thank you for all the photos you sent me! I loved seeing how you planned your next travel to your next stop. Nicholas and Thomas, you're so lucky your moms came over to see you! Very cool! Here they are...

Cody and Frances Joy, I realize you're being stealth as you sneak away from Egypt, HIDING A CAMEL, so I understand why you didn't sent a photo. How is the escape going? I'm nervous for you. Write when you can! 

Logan, you were busy in Japan, trying to find that vanishing woman, I realize. Send photos when you can! 



  1. Let's just hope Cody doesn't get arrested in every counrty. It will really limit his future traveling if he is wanted on every contenent

  2. Carolyn, That was a great Skype on Friday. I think we all were thinking how sad it would be to be pushed from your country/home but how adventurous it would be to be pulled to another. Have a great trip. LZ