Explore Local!Posted by Whole Earth | 06.06.2021
Explore - verb - to travel over new territory for adventure
Local - adjective - belonging to the area where you live
Here's a nice conundrum. How do you explore the place where you live? Theoretically, since it's your home, you know it well. There's no new territory to discover. However, even if you live in a very small place, there's always more to learn and experience. So let's explore local this summer!
At Whole Earth when we think of exploration one of our first thoughts is hiking. What better way to take in the scene than on foot. A slow pace allows us to immerse ourselves in the landscape. We can see and hear more of the world around us and easily stop to look at plants and bugs, observe birds, and wonder about the physical and geological forces that sculpted the land.
When we explore local, we turn our attention to hikes near home and to "urban" exploration. If you live in a large enough town, there may be guides to local hikes and sightseeing destinations that can provide descriptions of places of interest and directions to find them. If there are no guides to your home territory, we suggest visiting your local library. Librarians can help you find materials that will be useful in planning your own journeys of discovery.
If you're in a metropolitan area, guidebooks will be available listing all sorts of activities to help you explore the place where you live. These books can be very specific. Some deal with nearby hikes, others are focused on culture, food, history or activities for families.
Perhaps you'd like to begin your explorations as part of a group. Look for local Audubon or Sierra Club groups to join for hikes. Some cities have extensive wildlands that are open periodically for guided hikes. Your fellow hikers may have leads to finding the city departments and conservation groups that offer these special events. And as you explore, you may want to learn more about local plants and animals. Field guides can introduce you to neighbors you never knew you had, expanding and enriching your sense of the place where you live.
Urban exploration can take many forms. One of our favorites is using history to give us a sense of the deep history of our town. When we say deep, we mean it. If you're lucky enough to have a Roadside Geology book for your state, start there. We discovered the remains of a volcano not that far from home! Next step is to look at local histories. Some will be more useful than others for finding information about the area prior to the coming of "civilization." If it's lacking, ask your librarian for help in filling in the gaps. Once you're up to recorded history, we like seeing how much of that history still remains. What buildings have survived? What monuments or plaques have been erected? How much of that past history still resides in common memory? Becoming familiar with the flow of history through your town will give you a new perspective on how things change and how they remain the same.
Maybe you'd like to take your explorations in a totally different direction. How about taking a summer challenge to sample ice cream at every parlor or sno-cones at every trailer in town? Or what about breakfast tacos, barbecue or pizza! Visit all the pools or swimming holes, museums or playgrounds. The internet can help you find them and other possible destinations you may not have known about that are hiding in plain sight. So let 2021 be your summer to explore local!