Exploring a Sense of Place is a course designed to help people identify with and connect with the living Earth in the place where they live. It can be tailored to any bioregion, anywhere. (See our guidebook, Exploring a Sense of Place, for information about starting your own course of study wherever you are.)

On the San Francisco Peninsula:

For eight years we produced a year-long course “Exploring a Sense of Place” out of Palo Alto CA, and wrote a guidebook about our experience in response to inquiries from around the country.  Now we have turned our attention to nurturing the idea of the importance of a sense of place, encouraging the distribution of the guidebook, and mentoring the people who are taking the program on as their own. Therefore we no longer produce a course ourselves. There are many people and groups who have taken this model, adapted it to their place and circumstances, gathered their friends, families and communities, and have been having wonderful experiences gaining a deeper relationship with their own home bioregions. This describes the basic form of the original course, (detailed in the guidebook.)


A Year long course

Exploring a Sense of Place is a year-long course, from April to May, consisting of one Saturday Exploration and one Monday Enrichment Evening per month. The evening speakers prepare us for the Saturday explorations where we go out in small groups into our bioregion, with a concentration on the San Francisquito Creek watershed (Palo Alto to Redwood City). While we provide wonderful guides and materials, these explorations are designed for each person to make his/her own connection.



As the year progresses, through every season, in every weather, and through the different ecological zones, we become more familiar with our place. Every month we focus on a different theme, and by using different lenses, we develop skill in using all of our senses. Through facilitated exercises we learn to express our connection with our sense of place. And by experiencing this together, we form community, deepening our roots with those around us. Through our guides we learn not only about the natural world around us but nature awareness techniques so that we can truly appreciate, love and care for our Earth.



This course is differentiated not only by what it is but by what it is not. It is not a hiking club, a series of recreational events, or a course on identifying plants and animals. It is an opportunity and an invitation to be open and to be imprinted by the awesome beauty and elegance of Earth — right here at home. While each month varies a “typical” Saturday consists of two parts with different guides. One part might be a nature walk and the other nature awareness training.

Our final local formal course concluded May 2010, though there have been ongoing groups who continue to explore a sense of place together.

We did not come into this world. We came out of it, like buds out of branches and butterflies out of cocoons. We are a natural product of this earth, and if we turn out to be intelligent beings, then it can only be because we are fruits of an intelligent earth, which is nourished in turn by an intelligent system of energy.
— Lyall Watson