You don’t, and it’s ok. You can admit it.
Wrenshall is a small town located 25 miles outside Downtown Duluth, MN. Wrenshall only holds 391 inhabitants. It isn’t near any major highways. It’s not a tourist destination. Wrenshall has a few small farms, a public K-12 school, a diner, and a bar. There are few if any Duluthians who make day trips to Wrenshall.
As of the 2013 census, only 6.5 percent of the population of Wrenshall were between the ages of 18-24.Think about it. That includes high school seniors.
Now, let me tell you why Wrenshall matters and why I am still here. I am a Wrenshallian. I grew up here. It is a place I continue to live despite being a student at UMD for the past two years. It is the place where I learned how to walk, ride a bike, and drive a car. I have an extraordinary amount of sentimental value sunk into Wrenshall’s vast fields and forests. The sentimental value I have for Wrenshall is something that cannot be quantified but alas, it is extremely important, but not only for me.
The Journal of Rural Studies explains that what I am feeling is described as a “sense of place.” It is one of the leading causes for families to move into a rural area to raise a family, and for keeping people in who ordinarily would have moved out.
Sense of place can be broken down into three categories; social ties, personalized experiences, and community spirit.
Social ties are self explanatory, it means that a person is attached to an area because their family live there whether it be biological or through marriage.
Community spirit is how the community gets together to celebrate a place, or the simple act of multiple people sharing the feeling of enjoying were they live.
Personalized experiences are the hardest to categorize because they can literally be anything. For me, the fact that I am able to walk 30 paces and be in 600 acres of forest is important to my sense of place in Wrenshall.
I talked with Wrenshall High School Senior, Hunter Pauly a little bit about his sense of place in Wrenshall and what sense of place means to him.