Memories in the Landscape

Hi everyone! My name is Jon Green and I am Stonehill’s Assistant Archivist and Digital Assets Manager. I also work closely with History and Anthropology faculty in developing coursework on environmental history, history of the Atlantic world, public history, and museum studies.

It was both exciting and comforting being accepted as a Farmhouse Writing Fellow this semester. Apart from having a quiet space away from my office where I can write (NOTE: “away from the office” is key), being part of the Farmhouse Writing Fellow program keeps me focused and pushes me to meet deadlines for research and writing. Credit is due to Bridget Meigs and the other writing fellows for creating a welcoming and engaging environment. It helps feeling like you are part of a cohort of individuals working toward similar goals: getting to the writing while the getting is good.

My project, “Memories in the Landscape,” is concerned with Stonehill’s environmental history. For thousands of years, human hands—let alone the claws, paws, beaks, and feet of other animals, as well as meteorological and geological processes—continuously shaped and reshaped the area we now know as Stonehill. These processes ultimately made a space into a place.

“Space” and “place” are at the heart of this project. To some, the words space and place may be interchangeable. To others, myself included, these two words hold specific and altogether separate meanings. For simplicity’s sake, spaces are strictly physical whereas places are a potent concoction of the tangible and intangible. More specifically, a place is brought into being by the confluence of environment (space) and memory, which collectively shape identity.

As a Stonehill graduate I can speak from experience when I say the campus is a place, filled with memory. The meaning I find in the Stonehill campus, however, is relative to my memories. This certainly is true for other students and alumni who reflect on their time at Stonehill with varying degrees of fondness. However, how many Stonehill students, I wonder, are cognizant of the countless memories locked in the college’s landscape? Over six decades of students lived, worked, played, and attended class on Stonehill’s campus. But what about before that? What about before the college’s founding in 1948?

“Memories in the Landscape” is an attempt to determine the ways in which environment and memory interweave to form distinctive identities specific to Stonehill’s campus. From selling dirt and constructing sewer systems, to fighting forest fires, damming rivers, raising cranberries, colonial homesteading, and American Indian encampments, the campus’s memory runs deep. In the case of Stonehill’s former mascot, the Chieftain, or the college’s name, “Stonehill,” identity is linked directly to the landscape and its memories.

How fitting it is and how fortunate I am to be part of the Farmhouse Writing Fellows, a program made possible thanks to The Farm where work is quite literally rooted in the landscape and further enriches Stonehill and its neighboring communities.

-Jon Green

Farmhouse Writing Fellow

Assistant Archivist

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