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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Place Where You Live

Air Date: Week of

In collaboration with Orion Magazine, Living on Earth introduces a new feature “The Place Where You Live.” This week, Lise Saffran of Columbia, Missouri tells us about her family’s special place in the Ozarks.


GELLERMAN: It's Living on Earth, I'm Bruce Gellerman. This week, we begin a new collaboration with Orion Magazine. We call it “The Place Where You Live.”

[MUSIC: The Place Where You Live: Theme Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros “Home” from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (Community Records 2009)]

GELLERMAN: Home…be it ever so humble – or not – it's special. For more than a decade, Orion Magazine has asked its readers to put their memories of home on a map where everyone can see them. Well now, we’re giving them a voice so you can hear them as well. Our debut essay is about a family that created a home away from home.

SAFFRAN: My name is Lise Saffran and I live in Columbia, Missouri. To us, home really is this place where we have a community, and ties, and people who, you know, expect to see us show up, and worry about us when we’re not there and know what the content of our daily lives is like. About five years ago, a group of families joined together with my family to communally purchase 60 acres in Shannon County, which is in the Ozarks.

Everyone pitched in to build this cabin on the shared land owned by Lise Saffran’s family and four others. (Photo: Virginia Muller)

SAFFRAN: Our criteria were that we wanted it to be undeveloped mostly, and we wanted to have live water. It had to be on a creek, moving water. We all have children. We immediately began to go down and camp and clear trails, and then, eventually, we came together and built a structure. We have a pretty large cabin that we share and a lot of tent platforms that we camp on mostly.

[MUSIC: Jesse Kurn “Put It In The Bag” from In The Bag (Self-Produced)]

SAFFRAN: To reach the land that my family owns with four others, you must leave pavement for gravel and traverse a low-water crossing. For the uninitiated to Southern Missouri, a low-water crossing means you drive into the creek. For the uninitiated to communal property owning, it involves wielding power tools a long way from the hospital, learning about humanure and endless meetings at which even children present ideas as proposals.

It also means that you can load your children into the car and in three hours be walking down a rocky path where dogs race to meet you and your extended family rises up from their camp chairs to welcome you home.

Moving water where the kids could play was on the list of essential criteria for Lise Saffran’s home away from home. (Photo: Virginia Muller)

SAFFRAN: We have marked each year of land-owning with an annual meeting on the gravel bar, followed by gin and tonics and music around the fire until the stars burn bright above us. The children splash in the creek and hunt for crawdads. Most days we live in town, in a house on a paved street. Even there, we carry our Ozark place within us. Home I have come to believe, is not necessarily the place you are from. It is certainly not the place you expected to be. It is the one you return to again and again.

[MUSIC: Tom Verlaine “Harley Quinn” from Warm And Cool (Thrill Jockey Records)]

GELLERMAN: Lise Saffran is author of “Juno’s Daughters.” Her family makes its home in Columbia, MO, and sometimes the Ozarks. Tell us about “The Place Where You Live.” You can find out more about our collaboration with Orion Magazine and how you can submit your essay by visiting our home on the web - it's LOE dot org.



Let us know about “The Place Where You Live.” To post your essay on the Orion magazine website, click here. Living on Earth will choose entries on the Orion page for broadcast.

Lise Saffran wrote the book “Juno’s Daughters.”

Listen to other Place Where You Live essays


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