November 19, 2012

Maps, maps, maps...

I started bird watching when I was eleven years old. Books, binoculars, and notebooks lined my shelves, and hawk posters my walls. I pleaded with my parents to pull the car over into the busy breakdown lane so I could stare at an osprey from the backseat of our Cutlass Cruiser. As an adult, birds have remained in my life as pastime and now as part of my career. With an eye for educational development I look back on early years and wonder why birds fascinated me so and I realize they were just part and parcel of a larger fascination with place. 

Place is a vague word and to narrow the concept I would define "place" as the connection between physical space and people. Place is created and every changing, malleable both in terms of physical landscape (think bulldozers) and meaning (think the Lorraine Motel). Unfolding these layers of meaning involves the making and reading of maps, the walking of boundaries, the mystery of birds and trees, and questioning of history and culture. Place is at once seemingly unyielding like granite peaks and skyscrapers yet wonderfully temporal, contingent on ethereal things like the smell of hay or humidity, a creole accent or the sound of moving water. Spaces can be pinned to the wall on a map and photographed a million times yet these same spaces are somehow unique to each person, each time - this is place. 

My new project, Moogle Gaps: the Spaces Between Maps and People is more of a collection of old ideas, like finally emptying the contents of a desk drawer and gluing it all into a scrap book. I'm collecting and sharing with you stories and drawing, histories, natural histories, adventures and of course maps. This project is made simple by the web, and the reason we all love it - the ability to easily share video clips, articles, photos, and sound bites.

What I'm calling "Moogle Gaps" is of course a play on the new standard for mapping, Google Maps. Unlike Google Maps, Moogle Gaps will animate the gray and green spaces turning them into places. I hope you enjoy and as always please contact me for questions, thoughts, or to share something about your places. 

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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