Document Type

Article

Department

Educational Studies (CGU)

Publication Date

8-22-2005

Abstract

Remember when Americans had hometowns? "Where are you from?" we'd ask one another.

And the answer would come back: New York City. St. Joseph, Mo. Atlanta. Santa Barbara, Calif. Chattanooga, Tenn.

But odds are that now we'd get a more complicated response. It'd go something like this: "Well, I was born in Atlanta but we moved to Baltimore when I was 11 and in my junior year of high school, we went out to L.A. I've been in Chicago for a year."

And even this might not be quite accurate. The speaker may have been born in an Atlanta exurb and have moved with her parents to a Baltimore suburb and subsequently to a town some miles outside Los Angeles before migrating to a community close to but not in Chicago.

So where should one consider her from? All over, maybe? Which raises the question: does this erosion of a sense of place matter? Yes, it does. For throughout history, people have derived their identity in part from where they lived. Now, every year an estimated 45 million Americans move.

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Posted with permission from The Christian Science Monitor.

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