Where Are We? [first of a series]

The question that is my title has only three words, and seems quite simple, but multiple answers are possible.  Beginning a complete answer is my project this time.

In terms of social and political constructs, we are in or near Woburn, Massachusetts, a small city northwest of Boston, which is a seaport, is the largest city in New England and is old, by USA standards.  Six towns surround Woburn (anywhere you stand in Massachusetts, you’re in a town or city); some are among the most affluent communities in the state.  New England, a six-state, and fairly distinctive, region, is the most eastern part of the northeastern United States of America.  That’s North America, if you're wondering about the continent.  Planet Earth, solar system, etc.

Within Woburn is the intersection of two interstate highways.  Stuff comes and goes, with relative ease, at speed.  We do, too, for fun, for work, to shop.  Low over Woburn fly airplanes coming to or going from major airports not far to the east (Logan) and not far to the west (Hanscom).  Until a railroad made it obsolete, a canal connecting the industrial city of Lowell to the Boston area sliced through Woburn.  Thus, the city is and has a history as a place of industry and commerce, as well as residences and institutions.  Once there were some farms; only remnants of a couple of them remain.  Food, fuels and other materials we can’t do without (living as we do) are very much part of the incoming stuff.

The region is in the so-called temperate zone and has a variable pattern of four seasons.  We must heat our buildings somewhat in at least five and as many as ten months of the year.  Summer daytime temperatures exceeding 95 degrees F have been unusual and irregular, rarely persisting more than a week at a time.  Most of the region gets plenty of precipitation, annually.  Lately, deluges seem more frequent.  Woburn’s water system delivers a blend from local and non-local sources.

Almost all residing, working or playing in Woburn are in uplands of the Mystic River watershed.  Very few of us have a sense of its divides (ridges off of which water flows into one watershed or the other) from abutting watersheds.  Although the highest elevation is not great, the Woburn area is quite lumpy, with hills and valleys throughout.  These physical realities were of consequence before vehicles with engines (VWE) became ubiquitous, and again will be consequential, when VWEs lose popularity due to beyond-reach first and operating costs.  Historically and understandably, most people don’t relish crossing divides when self-propelled, and most upland folks sourced only carefully selected necessities from the lowlands.  VWEs changed that, for a while and to this point.  If they're less common in the future, we'll quickly relearn social and economic meanings and implications of terrain.

We are in a populous place on a continent of a planet, in a puzzling moment in history and at the end of some terribly long and important supply lines.  That we are in proximity to each other is what I hope you’ll consider a great opportunity.  No matter what unfolds or comes undone, what we do and make together, for one another, will be ours and will be here.