“What is place” I thought to myself as I drank a cafe breve at my favorite local coffee house. I was feeling particularly challenged as I attempted to answer this question, mainly because the response was going to comprise the first post of my blog. An important post, but the psychological effect was drastically out of proportion to the actual importance of this initial piece of writing. After all, you have to start blogging sometime and with something, yes?
The, or rather, an answer came to me shortly after my drink arrived. Not atypically, I forgot to grab my wallet before heading out. Initially, this induced a minor amount of panic. I was set to meet a friend here, the coffee shop was clear on the other side of town, and I had no means of obtaining any money. surrendering to the futility of the situation, I explained my situation to the proprietor of the family owned coffee shop. I was unable to even complete my sentence when he immediately offered a breve on the house, assuring me “you wrote your dissertation here in my coffee house. This is the least I can do,” in his clipped accent. In that instant, I realized that I had a viable answer to my first blog post. What is place, if not the collection of interpersonal relationships we accumulate and foster in any given location?
Fueled by generosity and caffeine, I realized I could now proceed with an acceptably interesting blog post. The relationships we build help give us our sense of place and provide an emotional anchor and connection to a particular location. Often times, these connections help scholars and commentators expand their commentary to larger scales of analysis, as I hope to do with future posts. But the best discussions about place almost always begin with the personal connection to place, which in turn are built upon the personal connections one makes to a location and the people who exist in that space.
This, then, is the point from which I hope to embark upon my own observational analysis on various local issues, focusing mainly on water, education, and the production of beer here in southern Nevada. The first two are of obvious importance to our community. Water, naturally, is the starting point for any analysis of a desert community. I have spent over a decade of my life examining the importance of this element to Las Vegas. I am also a teacher and a father, and I have a direct interest in the well-being of our community’s youth. Finally, beer. Yes, this may seem like an outlier. However, it’s my contention that local beer production indicates a certain coming of age for a community. Successful beer production requires significant practice and perseverance. Combine the artistic craft of brewing with the capitalistic commitment to open a brewery, and it represents a multifaceted and thorough investment in place. It is my intention to write more about the southern Nevada community examining it through these broad themes.