Yesterday, I wrote about how I define the cultural, and how it relates to when we travel. Obviously culture is a big topic, but we can use some of the more high-level aspects of culture to quantify what to consider when we visit a new place. The idea here is to avoid going to new places uninformed, and waiting for the city or region come to us, when instead we travelers should be the ones doing the leg work in trying to understand the places that we go.
The starting point for me is the list of L. Robert Kohls' aspects of culture. His list here isn't in particularly in depth, but for our purposes, we don't need it to be. It just needs to be a starting point. To revisit, Kohls says that culture consists of the following:
In reviewing the above, I've arrived at a list of aspects of cities that either inform, or result from some, if not all, of the above. There's some overlap here. This is also my baseline position, one that will likely evolve as I explore this path in more depth and detail as we go forward.
Firstly, we have the environment, which is the foundation of culture. They include aspects such as:
- Indigenous Wildlife
- Time Zone
Then we have the people who inhabit this environment, and the various sub-tribes found within each area.
- Founding of the region/city by people
- Who arrived later
- How they categorized themselves
People tend to create or provide either goods or service to the community that has been created. This includes the following:
- Guilds/Small businesses
- Visual Art
People then use some type of institution to hold sway over them. They include:
- Governments (to provide guidance and leadership over known issues found within the geographic area that they claim)
- Religion (to provide guidance and leadership over the metaphysical)
- Economics (to provide guidance surrounding the exchange of goods and services)
- Businesses (large)
Finally, after some course of time, all of these items above result in a history, in some form or another. Depending upon one's taste and knowledge, this history can have varying degrees of importance. But the key thing to understand about history, is that it is theghostly remains of culture.
All of these items intermingle with one another to create a melange that results in a "place". And of course, life isn't as simple as the list above might suggest. Each item listed very likely informs another. For example, a State Fair may have resulted from a group of guilds that agreed to meet once a year to celebrate the harvest as well as sell various wares. They invited many members of the community to attend, and the government may have provided a subsidy to support any cost overruns, or a centralized place where the fair could occur. As with anything surrounding humanity, there's always a complex intermingling of cultural ideas at play with one another, far to complex to quantify simply.
Let's take a quick rundown of a few touristy places and/or events, and see if we can place them into a category listed above.
Grand Canyon - Geologic
Crossing a border - Geographic/Governement
Eating a meal - small business/food/Indigenous Wildlife
Oktoberfest - Crafts/Goods/Government/Industry
Broadway show - Art/Theater/Music
Gettysburg - History/Military/Government
Soccer Match - Sports/Entertainment/Community
The point of this exercise here is to point out that using culture as the basis of travel, one can create an itinerary of sorts, based off of their interests as they relate to the lists above.
In fact, that's what I entirely intend to do. Not just for myself, but for all of us.