BLOG POST 2—RE-ORIENTATION EXERCISE

In my previous blog post I had talked about how my grandparents lake house was one of my favorite spaces situated on the waterfront of the Champlain Lake in Alburg, Vermont. When I pictured that spot I imagined that it was summer because otherwise it normally would not be open because of the season. Here’s a map locating the position of the chalet:

AlburghFinal

Courtesy: Google Maps

As you can see, it is really close to the Canadian border. It takes maximum an hour and a half to get there by car. As my grandfather would say: ”No need to take the plane to get to paradise, you only need a valid passport and you are good to go!” For this reason, a lot of French Canadian owns lake houses for the summer; the whole street where my family lake house is located is filled with Quebecers!

Following this line of thought, it made me realize: are we occupying other people spaces? If I put myself in the place of Americans already living there, it must be pretty invading each summer. But again, I think it relates back to the question of whiteness.  As Sara Ahmed uses phenomenology (the study of lived experience) to make us think about it, I realized that whiteness is associated with a predominant middle class position, reflecting wealth and good habits. This way, Alburg community accepts to share their space with French Canadians because it can make others perceive their community as being open to everyone (in this case, white people obviously) and, therefore, it is good for their economy. In the end, I think it always comes back to power; who has it and who can benefit from it? Even if it implies you need to share your own space, for money people are willing to do almost anything.

photo

Courtesy: cellphone picture

However, one of the things that makes this place special is the lake. Living in an urban area, we are not used to see so much water around us. Yes, Montreal is an island, but who really takes the time to perceive it as leisure? Sure, people who live close to the St.Lawrence River see it everyday, but again, do they take the time to enjoy it? Mapping wise, this is where it gets interesting. Can you map water? It is not as structured and tangible as mapping roads.

To be able to drive a boat, people need a permit. The same goes for the sea-doo. However, rules are very different from driving a car. This is what fascinated me from very little. Boats are a very special and different technology than cars! Jason Farman argued that representations of space is structured by the co-existence of technology, our everyday and maps. If someone is not used to driving a boat, his/her representation of the lake would be very different from someone who is used to driving it. My goal this summer would be to pass my boater’s licence. Since I enjoy being on the water so much, I would not have to wait for someone to drive me around each time. It must not be that difficult if they offer the exam online!

 

-Ana P.

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