Immigrant home gardens and socialising future generationsPosted: January 27, 2012 | |
As an English immigrant to this Mediterranean metropolis, whose “garden” consists of a few plastic and earthenware pots on a small balcony in view of a dozen similar balconies, I found myself relating to this research article whilst at the same time envying its subjects, i.e. immigrants who have private gardens in which to develop a sense of place that blends “the old place back home” with their new environment.
It’s not that I haven’t had space to enact similar practices to those described by the researcher. Last summer a heavily-scented pink rose bloomed for a few days on this humble balcony, and in a private moment I dedicated it to my late grandmother–she would call me wherever I was living in the world, and this was my way of imaginatively, perhaps even spiritually, reviving that connection.
In contrast, going into my parent’s garden and checking on the state of the apple tree is also a way for me to reattach myself with my “other home”. (Thanks to cheapish kerosene, negative externalities, and modern transport infrastructure, I get to live a multi-centred life).
Returning to Mazumdar and Mazumdar’s paper… It’s just I got to the end of it and wondered what immigrants without private gardens do to “engage with, personalize, and experience their new environment in deeply meaningful ways”. Another issue for another paper, perhaps.
But what it did crystallise for me was an essential place principle: when it comes to thinking about places and how we allow them to change and take on new signs, shapes and surfaces, we should never lose sight of the fact that places play a hugely important role in socialising the young, as well as visitors and incomers. This is especially relevant to public and shared places. Hence, our concerns when (re)development plans look set to change a place that really matters to us. What kind of place will be bequeathed to those yet to come? How will this place socialise future generations? What will it say to visitors? On what terms will this place welcome newcomers? What kind of relationships will future generations form with this place? Will it nurture them?