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Sensing liminal landscapes in Puget Sound

Abstract

Marine shorelines are liminal landscapes or spaces, emanating a sense of in-betweenness, ambiguity, transition, and threshold. This liminality provides distinct people–place experiences, interactions, and relationships, as evinced through coastal residents’ sense of place. As such, their management, planning, and policy reflect these distinctions, recognizing that traditional approaches or frameworks likely do not fully capture what or how shorelines benefit and contribute to coastal communities and their people–place relationships. This is particularly pertinent in coastal areas experiencing rapid change, like population growth and development or sea level rise, where not only are shorelines shifting, but likely too are the connections and fealties of residents to the coast. Building upon and coalescing recent sense of place and liminal landscape research, this paper examines residents’ sense of place to Puget Sound’s liminal shorelines in Washington State (U.S.A.). Stemming from the implementation of a 12-county regional survey of coastal residents (n = 413), this paper demonstrates that residents do have a sense of place of the region’s shoreline, notably place attachment, and a range of place meanings, including those linked to coastal liminality. Such findings offer a unique perspective for coastal research and management, which increasingly recognizes the need for community inclusion and social science approaches.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to acknowledge Whitney Fleming, a PhD Candidate in Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University who produced a map of the Puget Sound region. The author would also like to acknowledge the Puget Sound Partnership and Citizens for a Healthy Bay for their assistance with this project.

Funding

Background research, survey implementation, and data tabulation were supported by Oregon State University’s Human Dimensions Lab, Applied Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers, and the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies at Western Washington University.

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Correspondence to David J. Trimbach.

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Trimbach, D.J. Sensing liminal landscapes in Puget Sound. GeoJournal (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-020-10350-w

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Keywords

  • Sense of place
  • Liminal landscapes
  • Shorelines
  • Coastal management
  • Puget Sound