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Group Practices: Place | Space
The History of a Place

Surprisingly, even the historical significance of a place can be a factor in creating a feeling of resonance between people gathered in it.

On one level, knowing the history of a place is a kind of “story” shifter. For example, volunteers showing up for their shift at the Ground Zero relief operation inside of St Paul’s Chapel were told of its historical significance that had an eerie echo in more recent events. Dubbed “The Little Chapel That Stood” by the press when it survived the collapse of the neighboring World Trade Center, St Paul’s had been saved from disaster once before. When the British set fire to lower Manhattan during the War of Independence, American colonists used a bucket brigade to carry water from the river to pour on the chapel.

On another level, people often report experiencing a sense of the energy built up in a place or location by past events. So many rescue workers, volunteers and visitors to St Paul’s Chapel commented on the sense of peace and even love they felt as soon as they walked through the door. It was as though a kind of collective resonance lingered in the air.

Do you know the history of the building or ground where your group works, lives or gathers? Research the history and share it with the group, or reflect on whether the feelings and dynamics of the group in any way reflect what has transpired in that place in the past.

If you are planning a family gathering, choose a place linked to the history of your family, perhaps to your faith or national origins, or with significance in your cultural heritage. A wedding or memorial service could take place in a setting with personal significance to the bride and groom or to the one whose life is being honored, even if it is an unconventional one for that kind of event.

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