Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Place Attachment to Red Rocks

In the field of Environmental Psychology is a concept called Place Attachment. By definition it essentially means that we become attached to certain places based on what meaning we assign it due to experiences, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, memories, preferences, values, etc. The concept is more complex than my simple definition as it also includes several variables such as the length of time you’ve spent there as well as whether or not a place fulfills your various needs (biological, social, psychological, cultural). All in all, an attachment to a place is also incorporated into your larger sense of yourself. I’m guessing when they created this concept they probably didn’t have climbing areas in mind. I imagine them thinking of a childhood home or the town you grew up in. But we also have a place attachment to places we’ve visited say with our family on summer vacations so perhaps climbing areas are not such a far stretch.

I can definitely say that I have a place attachment to Red Rocks. I mentioned in my last post that it is my most favorite place to climb and now I’m starting to realize that it is because of the meaning I have attributed to it. Researchers in this field are quick to distinguish between meaning vs. preference when creating an attachment. You can have a preference towards a beautiful place but it doesn’t mean you’re attached to it. To have an attachment you need to assign it some meaning.

The meaning that I assign to Red Rocks says a lot about my values and preferences as a climber. Red Rocks has all of my top five basic requirements in an area: hot weather, Sport climbing, Trad climbing, great camping, close to but not in civilization, and excellent rock quality. But those are just requirements for my attachment to even have a chance in forming. Kind of like the requirements you look for in a date before you get attached to them.

It’s also a beautiful place, I have lots of memories here of conquests and failures, memories of good times with great friends and I have lots of memories of how much it has changed, and not changed, in the 15 years I’ve been coming. You could say that Red Rocks has kind of been incorporated into my larger sense of my own identity as a climber. As my attachment has grown so has my attention on the politics of the place. I feel protective of my attachment and contribute to its upkeep.

So where is your place attachment? Why that place versus any other crag? What does your place attachment say about you as a climber and as a person? I’d love to hear your stories about the places you love and why.

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