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The concept of "my place" is challenging for me. Certainly, there are the places that are integral to my overall "sense of place" and its associations with a sense of comfort, identity, and well being. For years, I have lived in Dummerston, a wonderful small home in the Green Mountains of Vermont, with my wife, Pauline. We have a quiet country setting on a hill overlooking the West River, with a vegetable garden and Pauline's flowerbeds. My studio is there in my basement, and I teach at Marlboro College, a small liberal arts college nearby. My son, who is now grown and living on his own, is near enough for us to visit regularly, which is a gift.

         In 1992, I co-founded The In-Sight Photography Project, a nonprofit organization that offers photography programming to area youth regardless of their ability to pay, and I have been involved with the program as a volunteer ever since. In that same year, I was introduced to a family on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe, and I've spent one to three months a year there ever since, staying with people there I relate to as family. I consider the reservation to be another part of my home at this point in my life, especially since Pauline and I met there almost twenty years ago.

         Through my work with the college and In-Sight, and being married to an Australian who wants to see the wider world, I've learned to appreciate diversity and culture by traveling a fair bit, often with students. The places we go to and experience with fellow travelers, learning from and collaborating with those we visit in host communities, all feels like a piece of home, welcoming enough to consider them as included in my space. I only hope that, in my treading into these various places from Vermont onward, I can share the welcoming feeling and learning with others so they, too, may gain from the shared experiences.

Copyright © 2015 John Willis. All rights reserved.



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