Making it home, the invention of the prairie landscape

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Wasney, Patricia
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People shape and are shaped by the environments in which they live. Humans alter the physical landscape to satisfy the universal desire to feel at home in those places and their cultural activities inform and are informed by their environments. Home, therefore, is not a static thing but a constantly evolving set of beliefs. The prairie landscape is a particularly appropriate place to explore these notions of home since in its 'featurelessness' it presents the idea of a vast plain on which we project our needs and desires. We have culturally invented the prairie landscape based on the physical reality of the land and our impressions of and hopes for it. Emphasis in this project is on the European settlement experience of the late nineteenth century and the continuing influence of this experience. Three distinct areas of human interaction with the land are considered: impression, apportionment, and transformation. Landscape architecture as a mediator between nature and culture is an ideal medium through whichto study this mutual relationship, but only within a multidisciplinary context. Each of these distinct sections, therefore, have been considered using a variety of media and cross-discipline research. The result is a collection of writings and images that explore how the cultural and the physical landscape of the prairies has been perceived, transformed and represented by the people who inhabit it.