Day 207: Home

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July 25, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

“Home” is a concept with a lot of implications.  Overall, I think it’s an ambiguous construct that can mean almost anything to anyone.  Some of us know what “home” is from personal experience, having felt “at home”; others may never have shared that feeling, but I think everyone has a basic sense for what home isn’t – when you feel not at home.  So “home” is a strange, nebulous idea with unique networks of connotations for unique people, and it’s something that unless we’re away from it, most of us rarely reflect on.  Part of feeling at home, I think, has to do with not worrying about what “home” means.

Throughout my life, I’ve had two real homes.  My parents divorced when I was two years old and I basically knew nothing but life in two places.  When I did pause to reflect on it, I never felt bad, sad or angry about my two homes, but I did think it was strange that I could feel so calm, so at ease and so loved in what were essentially two different worlds.  I’ll admit that having spent the majority of my time living at my mom’s house, going to a school nearby and making friends in the area, a lot of what I’d consider “home” is rooted there.  But spending time at my dad’s house was really no less homey.  It’s a curious thing, really, that there are people with no homes, or with houses (or two, or three) that don’t feel like home, and I managed to feel at home growing up in two different places, with different rooms, different blankets, different clothes, different food, different smells and different people.  Maybe that’s part of the reason I had a relatively easy transition to moving away to college.  I gave up both homes all at once to make a little pseudo-home that was at least partly original and different from anything I’d known before.

I’m reflecting on all of this now because I’m facing down the notion of making a new home again, this time as a (pseudo-)grown-up; this time with a whole new set of responsibilities.  Now I’m thinking about new streets, new shops, new places to go to meet new people, a new job (or two), new things to learn, and a new sense that I’m out there on my own more than ever before.  It’s honestly not a feeling that frightens me; it’s exciting, if anything.  I’m ready, in the sense that I’ll surely encounter things I haven’t or even couldn’t prepare for – I’m ready to adapt and adjust and make myself a little newer while setting up a new life, a new home with a new meaning – a new sense of home.  Today’s project is pondering that sense in a place where home means something different to everyone there, but somewhere that over a thousand people still know as home.

The Home Project 2012 is exploring what it means to feel at home, or perhaps not at home, in the Peckham neighborhood of South East London.  As an area blighted by riots last year and now under the pressure of the world’s gaze as the Olympics open nearby, Peckham has over a thousand residents, each with their own sense of what makes (or fails to make) it feel like their home.  Constructed as a “public living room”, residents will be interviewed, their thoughts recorded, and ultimately then shared with guests and visitors from around the world as they spend time in somebody else’s home, perhaps to learn what distinguishes and what unites all of us in our idea and our sense of home.

This art work seeks to investigate what locals consider makes a place or community home. A year after the riots, this project aims to foster a fun and productive conversation about what it means to  be living in Peckham in 2012. With the pressures of the London administration trying to enforce pride for Londoners during the Olympics, this project is about having an honest conversation asking if residents are proud of where they live- and why or why not.

“Home” is so much more than a house.  It’s even more than a neighborhood or what lines the streets.  It’s greater than the sum of its parts, and has different meanings to different people.  It’s thus a very curious subject, and one that warrants some curious investigation.  Learn a little about what home is to people in different worlds, either half the world away or in the next town over – back The Home Project 2012 on Kickstarter in the next 30-ish hours, before July 26 @ 6:00 PM (EDT).


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