Can we argue as Walter (1998) does, that theory is closely related to therapy? (p. 20) Walter points out that that therapia has a meaning of close attendance when applied to places, but that as with many Greek words, therapia’s denotation is informed by the complexity of its usage. Like a parent or lover, it flatters us, courts us, but also attends to us, watering and weeding rows of golden wheat. It was also a term used by those caretakers of sacred places to describe being in those places. Perhaps through this close attendance, our students and their audiences might also stand to benefit.
Esri Arc GIS allows my students to walk through spaces and practice topography, that is, to ask questions about what we see and think as we move through spaces and places. In this way, my students look for local data that affects our campus and make connections between design, thinking, and action. These practices of examining the rhetorics of space and place become a work of cultural geography in that we begin to see how these social spaces are produced through our movement through them. While important to learn to see the design, it is more important to begin thinking about how we might change the design.
Though this is my second time teaching this unit, I continue to learn much about how Esri ARC GIS works. In that most of my students are unfamiliar with Esri ARC GIS, they come to rely heavily on affinity spaces inside and outside of the classroom. My students this second time around have found new ways to do things that I asked of them in this unit, and have had the advantage of building upon the quality of the models produced the previous semester, replicating what works, approaching what doesn't in a different manner.
Looking for problems on our campus or in our state is not a priority for the college students I teach—they have other concerns. I see this project as part of the post-pedagogy I facilitate through my classroom practice. My hope is that these texts become, what Rivers and Weber (2011) describe as “multiple, intertextual documents that could affect specific institutional changes” (p. 190). Reynolds (2004) argues that while it is important to understand how the socio-spatial “becomes imprinted upon readers and writers,” it is also important to note how readers and writers “leave their mark, too, on the socio-spatial world” (p. 44). While I hope this becomes a first step for many of my students on a path towards agency by way of asking questions and searching for answers, I also hope that their story maps will circulate beyond our campus via social networks, challenging the Aristotelian knowing—doing—making of their families and peers, contributing to real difference-making in our local and state community.