Building a Family Seat and Cultivating a Sense of Place

Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Build, Grow, Recent Posts | 3 comments

Building a Family Seat and Cultivating a Sense of Place

In my last post I introduced you to Virginia, a dear reader and correspondent. In her letter she didn’t just talk about setting the day in your mind, she also talked about how we are creating a family seat here on our land. That term intrigued me. Here is a bit of her letter:

My family seat is down below Sparta, NC. I say family seat, but I don’t even live there. It is home to my family since 1773 . That is what you all are building on your land. Family seat is an old English term. Not just a house or home but hopefully a seat for your family to have and come to for generations to come.  You can be so proud of what you are doing and how you all are working so hard to make it happen.

I wrote her back and told her the term family seat intrigued me. I told her that I find many folks have lost touch with the sense of place. Her response was:

I never realized so many people have lost a sense of place .  A lot of the kids growing up today have never really truly experienced a sense of place and with so much divorce and moving about they just do not know what it is. I read a lot of genealogy and I kept coming across that word. I used to remember a great-aunt using the term family seat. She was adamant that we never sell our land, and I’m glad we listened. Another thing she always used to say is your land is your wealth–always keep it. I really never knew what she meant ’til I  was much older. It made great sense with this economy. Like you guys are doing you picked up and came to a piece of land. You live small in a small house, but the land is your home. You can grow part of your food,  live and build your house.

I share this bit of correspondence with you because what Virginia brings up is so important. Knowing our place is important. It gives meaning to our lives and instills a deep care for the land.

I hope we can keep our family seat right here. I want my kids and their kids and their kids to sink their fingers into this soil I cultivate. I want them to taste the fruits of our labor.

Where is your family seat? Where would it be if you chose the spot? Any tradition you build to create a bond with the land is a good start. Maybe camping in the same spot every year, or hiking the same trails, or learning the names of the trees in your yard–maybe you already have a deep sense of place–tell us, what does that mean to you?

I’m one of the kids Virginia talked about. I moved a lot growing up and didn’t have a clear sense of place, but I’m building it now. My friend and fellow blogger, Fred First said in his recent TEDx talk, “Home is a place where you consciously choose to grow your roots.” So even though I’ve lived in many places. I’m home now.

Maybe we’re even building a family seat.

Sun through the second floor floor joists

Second floor on the big house

The Brassica are growing fast

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  1. Love the term. Our ‘seat’ is where I grew up. My dad built this home but my grandfather bought the property in 1919, so almost 100 years old! I love it here and could not imagine ever leaving. My mom & dad definitely had their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in mind when they built this home.

    • Awesome! I love it. So happy for you. Having that history and memory associated with the place you live must be a special feeling. Cheers to your parents!

  2. My wife and I are going to try to buy some land next year that will become our own family seat. I really cannot wait! Renting doesn’t give you any sense of place whatsoever.


  1. The Tiny House Family | Trucks & Teacups - [...] fantastic pieces about the joys of delayed gratification, the building of what she calls a “family seat,” and cultivating…