Defining Place
On Art and Aesthetics
Fundamentally, we humans are a “place-loving and place-making” species, observed Alastair Bonnett, professor of Social Geography at Newcastle University, in his 2014 book Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies. “Place” – we inhabit it and need it and create it. But what does the term mean? How should we define it? Tim Cresswell (@CresswellTim), a human geographer by training and currently a professor at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut explored the concept in detail in his wide-ranging study Place: An Introduction, first published in 2004 and re-issued in 2014. This rich inter-disciplinary discussion includes topics such as landscape, mobility, sexuality and memory.
In the following paragraph from the introduction, Cresswell highlights the many different ways in which the word “place” is used in everyday speech. The referent could be physical or psychological in nature: ‘Think of the ways place is used in everyday speech. “Would you like to come round to my place?” This suggests ownership or some kind of connection between a person and a particular location or building. It also suggests a notion of privacy and belonging. “My place” is not “your place” – you and I have different places.’ … Learn more in this fascinating video in which Tim Cresswell discusses the role of movement in the modern age.

From Jamaica to Puerto Rico: The Caribbean and How it’s Shaped Our Region and World [podcast]
“Where We Live” – WNPR
The Caribbean — its islands, its history and its people — has had a profound influence on communities around the globe — including Connecticut. This hour, we talk with author Joshua Jelly-Schapiro about his new book, Island People: The Caribbean and the World. We learn more about the culture — beyond the great music and food that add Caribbean flare to New England’s snowiest communities. We explore the history of migration from the islands with the director of the new Center for Caribbean Studies at Trinity College. And we hear from community leaders with roots in Jamaica and Puerto Rico about the challenges Caribbean people have faced as they adapted to a Connecticut way of life.
GUESTS: Joshua Jelly-Schapiro – Author of Island People: The Caribbean and The World; Leslie Desmangles – Professor of Religious Studies and International Studies at Trinity College. Director of the Center for Caribbean Studies; Reverend Dr. Damaris Whittaker – Senior Minister of the First Church of Christ in Hartford; Karraine Holness – President of the Jamaican American Connection in New Haven, Chair of the Caribbean Heritage Festival in New Haven and Sistahs Jammin’, an annual women’s retreat in Jamaica.

We Never Left Laramie: White LGBTQ Consciousness Post-Election 2016 – By Jack Gieseking
The Sociological Review
Since the election, many friends and colleagues have turned to me. They ask what I thought was next for LGBTQ people under the forthcoming Trump administration. They ask this of me because I am writing a historical geography of lesbian-queer New York City in the contemporary era. I presently do research on transgender youth use of Tumblr, and I write queer theory about the political economy of data and mapping. I’ve also helped to write and review documents that will serve as the basis for the U.S. National Parks Service to create the first national LGBTQ monuments. Unsurprisingly then, what I think about queer U.S. futures lies heavily in the past. If you do not live a queer life, know that queer lives are often fragmented, uprooted, violated, unrecognized, and/or rendered invisible. So I offer you the fragments of how I got to this idea, through what this idea feels like. The idea is this: in everything I have read and seen in the news and through the lens of my research, it is clear to me that in the long arc of queer history, we never left Laramie.
November 9th, 2016, Hartford, CT: The day after the election, I was on a panel at my home institution: a small, elite liberal arts undergraduate college in New England, Trinity College. A colleague invited actor/director Stephen Belber, an alumnus of the college, to come and speak about his role in writing, producing, and acting in the play The Laramie Project. Belber and his colleagues in the Tectonic Theater Project had gone to Laramie, Wyoming in 1998, immediately after the brutal beating and murder there of a young, white, blue-eyed, blond-haired man named Matthew Sheppard. Sheppard’s death made national news, inspired an international outpouring of grief, and was a key event that led to the creation of U.S. hate crimes laws. The Project conducted hundreds of interviews with residents and pieced together their words into what would become the play. In the decade after its first performance, The Laramie Project has been taught and performed in thousands of high schools across the U.S. and touched the lives of multiple generations in this country and abroad. As we were doing our introductions for the panel, suddenly in a sharp intake of breath sitting on the stage in front of our Dean, staff, students, and other faculty, I was 21 again and I can’t breathe…

Risky behavior declines with age, and gray matter may explain why
The Washington Post
Older folks tend not to engage as much in risky behavior as teenagers and young adults do. You might call that wisdom or learned experience. But this also may be a result of older brains having less gray matter in a certain spot, according to a new study. Researchers found that adults who were less inclined to take risks had less gray matter in the right posterior parietal cortex, which is involved in decisions that entail risk.
In the study, the researchers asked volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 88 to play a game involving risk. The participants were allowed to choose between a guaranteed gain, such as pocketing $5, or an uncertain gain, such as a lottery to earn between $5 and $120 with varying chances of winning or losing. As the researchers expected, those participants who chose the guaranteed gain — that is, no risk — tended to be older than those who opted for the lottery. It wasn’t a perfect correlation, but it was close. One could call this old-age wisdom. Yet when the researchers analyzed brain scans of these volunteers obtained through an MRI technique called voxel-based morphometry (VBM), they found that lower levels of gray matter, even more than age, best accounted for risk aversion. … Michael Grubb, first author on the new study — who at the time of conducting it was at New York University and is now an assistant professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. — said the research team had only just begun to scan the brains of adolescents, and it was not yet clear how levels of gray matter affect their affinity for risk…

Archdiocese plan could close 2 borough churches
Republican-American (via Citizen’s News)
At least 38 churches, including two in Naugatuck, across the Archdiocese of Hartford are being considered for closure and another 60 parishes to be limited to worship sites as leaders seek to consolidate and strengthen the shrinking faith. A document recently obtained by The Sunday Republican details a recent draft of the Archdiocese’s evolving plan for its 212 parishes.
Under the draft plan, churches that remain open would be reorganized into new “pastorates” — often sharing a common pastor and lay leadership. … Andrew Walsh, associate director of Trinity College’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, said religious and American civil law give bishops ultimate authority to dispose of parish properties.
“There may be parishes that hold the deed, but they hold it for him,” Walsh said. “So he can say, in the final analysis, buy or sell.”
Bishops also hold another major lever of control. They can assign or withdraw priests, Walsh said. While enormous power is vested in bishops, Walsh doesn’t expect Archbishop Leonard Blair to undertake the consolidation in a heavy-handed manner. “Archbishop Blair doesn’t seem to be anxious to portray himself as a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ guy,” Walsh said. The current archbishop is a sophisticated figure. Like many he’s trying to live in the age of (Pope) Francis. This kind of consultation is what the Pope is asking for.”