By: David J. Trimbach, Whitney Fleming, Kelly Biedenweg
What is the main purpose of your study?
Our study examines the relationships among residents’ attachment to place, residency length, and pro-environmental stewardship behaviors in the Puget Sound region of Washington State (U.S.).
What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
Our study highlights that residents, new and old, can have a strong attachment to place and engage in pro-environmental stewardship behaviors. Our study challenges the often negative assumptions and biases of newcomers to a region. Our study implies that environmental planners, policy-makers, managers, and advocates could harness, through targeted and more inclusive outreach, education, or communication, the strong connections of residents, new and old, in order to positively impact the natural environment.
How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
Our study supports recent research that challenges the assumption and bias that the longer someone lives in a place, the more attached they are to that place and the more likely they are to engage in pro-environmental behaviors. Our study supports research that illustrates that newcomers to a place can have a strong attachment, fealty, or sense of responsibility towards that place. Our study supports the understanding that people can have plural attachments and identities associated with place.
What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
- Residents, new and old, can have similar strong attachments or connections to place.
- Residents, new and old, can engage in similar frequencies of pro-environmental stewardship behaviors.
- New residents are not inherently blasé, uninterested, and detached to place, as is frequently assumed by old or long-term residents.
What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
Our study challenges common theoretical assumptions that length of residence directly equates to or informs a strong place attachment or positive sense of place. This study supports recent research that recognizes this residency length-based bias and emphasizes that people can have strong attachments to multiple places or even feel strongly attached to a new place.
How does your research help us think about Geography?
Our research helps us think about the power of people-place relationships and role place plays in our lives. Our study illustrates that people can form strong attachments towards place, regardless of how long they’ve resided there or what their familial or historical connections may be. Our research also illustrates that pro-environmental or place-based behaviors are partly informed by a person’s attachment or connection to place, which highlights the role place plays in motivating our actions or instilling a sense of responsibility for those natural areas where we live, work, and play.