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Mapping the Experience of Home: Using Geospatial Perception Mapping to Understand Neighborhood Sense of Place in the Wells Avenue Neighborhood Conservation District, Reno, Nevada
AuthorMajewski, Natasha Kristine
AdvisorStarrs, Dr Paul F.
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Home…that space so personal, so distinct, so intrinsic to the human/place relationship that “lies right at the heart of human geography” (Cresswell, 2004, p. 93). Studying the connection people feel toward certain places through concepts of emotion, experience, and attachment to meaning stems outward from the phenomenological and humanist branches of geography (Holt-Jensen, 2009). With every person’s version of home a space unto itself, is it possible for a place so intimate to be studied and defined? My answer is yes. This phenomenological case study investigates the perceptions and emotions of a newly designated conservation neighborhood, the second of its kind in Reno, Nevada. In an area usually looked at as a site for economic development and perhaps initiatives in historic preservation, there is little research undertaken through a cultural geographic lens aiming to understand how different communities in the area view their own home ground in transition and the implications of place creation. This project navigates the allegory of home through the voices and drawn maps of the Wells Avenue Neighborhood Conservation District (WANCD) and is approached through the impressions and attitudes of community groups, merchants, and a patchwork of residents diverse in both their backgrounds and their stories about the place they live. Through the construction of sense of place inside and around the WANCD and with the usage of Geographic Information Systems as a tool for qualitative data collection and comunication, this study investigates how personal experiences and perceptions, community connections and common goals, and specifically-identified areas of personal meaning play into the way in which these different stakeholders experience, participate in, and envision their neighborhood.