Selected Excerpts from Chapter 7 - Learning to Learn

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I hope you didn’t get this book with the hope of finding page after page of websites and lists of local information. That information would be meaningless filler, when the topic is learning to love what is local to you. The United States is 3,537,438 square miles (I pulled that piece of information off the Census Website after about 15-20 seconds of hard research - http://census.gov). Your five mile radius around your house is roughly 79 square miles. That means any specific information about your location would be irrelevant to the people in the other 3,537,360 square miles. That means you have to do the hard, but fun and rewarding, work of researching your area, but that is part of the adventure.

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When you see a terse line like, “Mrs. Alexander of 4th Street lost both of her children during the summer of 1904 due to the measles,” you can see it as a simple recitation of fact or you can feel the weight of the unwritten story. Stand on 4th Street in front of Mrs. Alexander’s bungalow and imagine what it was like. How did the neighbors respond? Did the church arrange for meals to be brought over? How did the community grieve? Little tidbits of local history can change a little bungalow on 4th Street into a gripping tale. That tale is lost on those who, a century later, know nothing about it.

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Every area has one or two people who know everyone and have accumulated countless stories. They are eager to share these stories with anyone, whether the listener want to hear them or not. For someone who has a packed schedule full of tight deadlines, these people can be a headache. Every conversation turns into long winded stories about the time the firehouse burned down and why Mr. Greer decided to switch to chickens after he lost an entire field of corn in the drought of ’67. For someone who wants to develop a love of all things local, these fountains of stories are a delightful diversion.


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