Senses of Place is directed by Gretchen Hilyard Boyce, an explorer of landscapes, an earnest observer, and a kindred spirit.
Gretchen’s love of history and nature began through explorations as a child growing up near the Delaware River in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Her intimate connection with historic landscapes developed over time through studies in historic preservation, and continue to evolve through her current program of study in western herbalism. The wild coastal landscapes of Northern California are where she feels most connected these days and she seeks to evoke these special places through a variety of Senses of Place projects.
As a trained historic preservationist and landscape historian, Gretchen is concerned about the value people assign to their physical environments and how this affects our collective heritage. Through Senses of Place, she hopes to inspire others to care about the natural and built world by sharing personal stories about place.
Senses of Place (SOP) is a series of curated learning events, retreats, herbal self-care products and stories that highlight the importance of sensory experience in framing personal perception of place. By looking at the often eclipsed yet considerable moments of the day that fall between living, working and creating, we can begin to understand how memories are formed and social values are assigned to place. Senses of Place is about the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that define our environments and give them meaning.
The Senses of Place herbal self care products came about from Gretchen’s personal frustration with unidentifiable ingredients in mass produced personal care products. Inspired by herbs, she began making her own natural beauty products and folk remedy tinctures as heartfelt rituals in self care. After sharing with friends for a few years, she was encouraged to begin selling the products to reach a growing community of people interested in personal care products that are carefully crafted with love and intention and rooted in the natural landscape and its traditions. The inventory of products will evolve over time as she explores new places, herbs and techniques.
This website will contain a collection of stories, photos, recordings, observations, thoughts, and the occasional rant about the unique qualities of Northern California and afar. Gretchen looks forward to collecting these snapshots here and thank you for reading!
Banner artwork by Anne Brask
Select photographs by Christina Dikas and Jennifer Michelson of A Girl and A Camera Photography