The Patterns of a Conservation Economy
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The Salmon Homecoming celebration.
Image by Manuel Cabrera.

Sense Of Place

Communities need opportunities to celebrate themselves and their connection to place.

Celebration is a profound response to the magnificence of the mountains and rivers, creatures large and small, sun and moon, storm and clearing which define the rhythms of life in our chosen place. It binds Community and ecosystem, reminding us of our ancient allegiances to the more-than-human domain.

A Sense of Place takes many forms: annual festivals, fairs, gatherings; rituals; paintings, sculpture, and site art; gardens; local currencies and trading Systems; restaurants featuring regional and seasonal cuisine; crafts using local materials; buildings reflecting the changing seasons; songs, stories, and dances; plays and poetry; community bookstores, coffeehouses, and gathering places; essays and novels. A Sense of Place is built on acts as humble as a ramble in the woods or as grand as a day of Longhouse feasting.

A Sense of Place is universal to all cultures, with expressions reflecting the full range of Cultural Diversity. It can be created in the heart of a city as well as in the heart of the wild. Examples include the annual Procession of the Species, when people decorate themselves as native species like salmon, cedar, and red-winged blackbird; the Wild Olympic Salmon event interpreting the natural history of salmon on the Olympic Peninsula; and Portland's Natural Building Convergence bringing earth builders together with community members to construct five cob sculptures in public areas.

A Sense of Place is also nourished by bioregional media sources — newspapers, magazines, websites, CD-ROMs, radio, and television — that cover the cultures and landscapes of a particular region. Such media tell the stories of local people and places, valuing them, honoring their complexities, creating opportunities to connect with them. They may be fast or slow, sophisticated or homespun. Bioregional media can help build Local Economies, honor Cultural Diversity, and provide Access to Knowledge.

Tidepool.org is a bioregional website which is devoted solely to news from the coastal temperate rainforest. Every weekday morning the website is updated with the day's breaking news, drawn from dozens of newspapers, periodicals, and on-line sources. The Inforain.org website complements Tidepool.org by providing a visual and data-rich information system for the same region. Inforain.org is a site to generate maps of one's home watershed on-line, to examine the status of local salmon stocks, to query a database of regional conservation groups, or to browse a wide range of spatial data layers and maps.

Bioregional media like Tidepool.org and Inforain.org, while nascent, hint at the kinds of media that can support local cultures and Local Economies.

Encourage the sense of place in a variety ways, from regional presses and publications, to restaurants featuring seasonal local food, to public gatherings. Support bioregional media sources that provide coverage of local cultures and landscapes.

Examples of this pattern in action:

Procession of the Species - Olympia
"The Procession of the Species is an artistic and environmental celebration of the natural world created by the community for the community using the mediums of art, music, and dance to give the natural world a greater presence in our streets." It is a parade of the human species sharing creations of individual expression of their awe and appreciation of the natural world. Designed as a cultural exchange rather than an entertainment event, it engages people from all walks of life — regardless of age, experience, or background — from local schools, social service organizations, tribal groups, churches, community groups, and individual area residents.

Raven and Crow's Potlatch
The Potlatch is an important custom among the nations of the North Pacific coasts, as tribal communities gather to feast and celebrate with singing, dancing and storytelling. The preparations are extensive, often taking a couple of years. The occasion of the Potlatch might be to honor the dead (which required two feasts a year apart), to celebrate a marriage or a birth, or to establish the host's claim to names, rank and privileges. Often the raising of a totem pole or the dedication of a house (which usually housed several extended families) would be the occasion for the feast. Always the Potlatch included lavish gift giving to the guests. In fact, the name "potlatch" comes from the Chinook word for "giving".

Most Northwesterners share a common dream of restoring and protecting salmon runs for the benefit of their children, culture, environment and economy. But ideas for achieving this dream are diverse and often in conflict. The 2000 Salmon Homecoming Forum: Salmon Recovery Comes Full Circle will provide an opportunity for those involved in and affected by salmon to make connections that will help move beyond conflict for real progress.

Wild Olympic Salmon Festival - Chimacum
Every two years, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Chimacum has a Salmon Festival in Chimacum County Park. The festival lasts all day until late at night. It usually begins with a parade of people or a story and ends with a big bonfire and a dance. Those who come are outside most of the time or at least walking back and forth to the big tent. The salmon dinner, costumes, music, storytelling, artwork and other entertainment make it a special day for our community.

Earth Day
Events all around the world celebrating Earth Day.

Return of the Brant festival
A festival to celebrate the return of the Brants from their Arctic feeding grounds.

Migratory Species Project
Tries to unite communities along the migration route of the gray whale from Baja California to Alaska.

Organizations whose work incorporate this pattern:


Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. Vintage Books. New York, NY. 1997.

Sale, Kirkpatrick. Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision. Sierra Club Books. San Francisco, CA. 1985.

Snyder, Gary. The Practice of the Wild: Essays. North Point Press. San Francisco, CA. 1990.

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Pattern Index

A Conservation Economy

Social Capital

Fundamental Needs

Subsistence Rights

Shelter For All


Access To Knowledge


Social Equity


Cultural Diversity

Cultural Preservation

Sense Of Place

Beauty And Play

Just Transitions

Civic Society

Natural Capital

Ecological Land-Use

Connected Wildlands

Core Reserves

Wildlife Corridors

Buffer Zones

Productive Rural Areas

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Forestry

Sustainable Fisheries


Compact Towns And Cities

Human-Scale Neighborhoods

Green Building

Transit Access

Ecological Infrastructure

Urban Growth Boundaries

Ecosystem Services

Watershed Services

Soil Services

Climate Services


Economic Capital

Household Economies

Green Business

Long-Term Profitability

Community Benefit

Green Procurement

Renewable Energy

Sustainable Materials Cycles

Resource Efficiency

Waste As Resource

Product As Service

Local Economies

Value-Added Production

Rural-Urban Linkages

Local Assets

Bioregional Economies

Fair Trade

True Cost Pricing

Product Labeling