Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-03-21

A Sense of Place

I spent a good deal of my childhood moving around with my family. At the time, my father worked on pipelines in the West, so we were often in a transient state - moving back and forth between California, Nevada, and Utah.

I distinctly recall my toddler years being spent running around Circus Circus in Las Vegas - my great aunt's watchful eye on me and her customers. Overall, it was a magical place to spend my days while my parents were at work.

By age 4, I was uprooted again and living in Orem, Utah, parts of California, then Provo, Utah, then back to Indiana.

Being nomadic as a child gave me an appreciation for travel as an adult, but it has also inspired an appreciation for things that hold a sense of permanence - like old growth forests, turn of the century cemeteries, and old homes.

In our memories, we hold special places for the sights, smells, tastes of childhood. The "designs" of our growing up - the familiar that created a sense of place, of identity.

As I was perusing a website devoted to some of the touristy aspects Utah, I was immediately reminded of small moments of pleasure: trips to Bridal Veil Falls, spotting Robert Redford at Sundance (watching my mom dote on about some blonde guy who, as far as I was concerned, was cutting into my sledding time), block parties with very musically inclined Mormon families, etc...

I have contemplated returning to the area to see if I could spot my old house, favorite park, the Falls, but I am unsure. There's something comforting in those memories, a permanence that would surely be eradicated if I went there as an adult. I would likely not recognize the city, the old neighborhoods.

The designs of place we create and hold captive in our minds are sometimes more important that the reality of what these places hold today. Identity is formed from these moments of "home."

When I think of Vegas, I don't think of the high rolling, party town of commercials, I think of me as a three year old, running around with a stuffed tiger at Circus Circus.

Can you imagine the pure power of advertising when we can locate and pander to individual memory design.... eerie. Now I am sure some of you are making note of my childhood memories. Don't even try to sell me your EBayed Circus Circus paraphernalia....
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