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The Nature of Place

Sitting atop the toilet flushbox of my second floor bathroom there is a book. It’s a paperback. And it’s been setting there since January 2012 when I bought it at Zandbroz. If you should use my toilet, feel free to reach behind you, pick it up and sit a spell

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Avi Friedman, professor of architecture at McGill, authored The Nature of Place: a search for authenticity as a “worldwide quest for successful environments where people congregate and feel comfortable.” So far, so good. I very likely bought the book, though, for the same reason Greg Danz had stocked it: one of Friedman’s targets is Fargo.

Now, I live in Fargo and so have some of you. Some of us even like the place. Last weekend at our wedding party Jeremiah Johnson admitted he missed living here. So several of us might tend to be just a little sensitive when others are critical of Fargo. I admit approaching Chapter Seven with defensive interest.

I don’t want to be any more flip or superficial about Professor Friedman’s efforts than he may have been. In the best of all possible world’s, I don’t want to be either of those things at all. So I’m going to wait for another day to summarize his experience of Fargo on “a sunny, crisp and frigid morning” and, perhaps, offer a critique. He is, after all, the recipient of teaching, research, and design awards and has been named by Wallpaper magazine as “one of ten people from around the world most likely to change the way we live.” I am none of those things. But I do know Fargo better than he does. And I continue to be, like him, interested in the nature of place.

Agincourt could profit from all this.


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