Residents And Visitors

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As an environmental literary arts magazine fostering place-based narrative for one of the oldest rivers in the world, we’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between residents and visitors within the Upper New River Basin.  We’re constantly checking our own definitions for the terms, but perhaps we can start with a couple more general definitions.

What is a resident?

Merriam-Webster defines a resident as “one who resides in a place”.  Well, what does it mean to reside?  The same dictionary defines reside as an intransitive verb, as follows: 

1.b. to dwell permanently or continuously : occupy a place as one’s legal domicile.

Merriam-Webster definition of “reside”

Perhaps we can combine these two definitions?  

Thus, a resident is “one who dwells permanently or continuously in a place”, with this place often being considered one’s legal domicile.

What is a visitor?

Again, Merriam-Webster defines a visitor as “one that visits”, noting “especially : one that makes formal visits of inspection.”  Digging deeper, we find that M-W has several definitions for the transitive verb visit:

1.a to pay a call on as an act of friendship or courtesy

1.b to reside with temporarily as a guest

1.c to go to see or stay at (a place) for a particular purpose (such as business or sightseeing)

1.d to go or come officially to inspect or oversee

Merriam-Webster definition of visit

We like the notions of courtesy, friendship, purpose, and temporary.  

Might we say that a visitor is “one that pays a call temporarily, as a guest, for a particular purpose”?  This seems like a reasonable general definition of visitor to us.

Philosophically speaking, we know that all humans are visitors on planet Earth, in the grand scheme of things. 

Nothing is permanent, so to speak.  

Still, since we’re a place-based environmental literary arts magazine, we’ve got to establish a few ground rules.  Differentiating between residents and visitors is one of those ground rules.

Residents and Visitors in the Upper New River Basin

Concerning the Upper New Review (especially how we’re managing content submissions from creators), how are we differentiating between residents (dwelling permanently or continuously) and visitors (temporary guests with a particular purpose) within the Upper New River Basin?

Upper New River Basin Residents

Residents of the Upper New River Basin are people who live inside the boundaries of the Upper New River Basin.  You live in one of the HUCs, one of the 18 watersheds within the Basin.  

If you are a full time residential student living on or near campus at Appalachian State University, Radford University, or Virginia Tech (even if your current legal residence is elsewhere), the Upper New Review considers you to be a resident of the Upper New River Basin while you are actively enrolled as a student.

If you are a resident, any creative work you are doing that fits the guidelines of the Upper New Review should be considered welcome for submission. 

The subject matter of your creative work does not need to be environmental in focus.  If creative work is happening in the Upper New, we want to know about it.  We’ll work with you to understand how your work is connected in place to the Upper New River Basin.

Upper New River Basin Visitors

Visitors to the Upper New River Basin do not live within the boundaries of the Upper New River Basin.  Here are some different examples of visitors to the Upper New River Basin:

  • People who own a “second home” or “vacation place” somewhere in the Upper New River Basin.  Even if you’re up here more than six months a year in your second home, you’re still a visitor.
  • Throughhikers on the Appalachian Trail and Mountains-to-Sea Trail are definitely “temporary guests with a particular purpose”.  You’re bound to pass through the Upper New River Basin.  We’d love to hear from you, and hope you’ll consider contributing creative work about your experience.
  • Similarly, the millions of people who drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway each year are all visitors, if they happen to drive along the more than one hundred miles of the parkway that helps define the edge of the Upper New River Basin along the Eastern Continental Divide.
  • Perhaps you’re visiting Mt. Rogers, the highest elevation mountain peak in the State of Virginia.  Or maybe you’re going to come find the “wild” ponies (and be a courteous visitor and keep your distance!).
  • Lots of folks find their way down the Crooked Road music trail, and plenty of creative visitors come to all the great music festivals in the Upper New River Basin, like Floydfest and the Old Fiddlers Convention.
  • If your kids are enrolled at ASU, Radford, or Virginia Tech, we’d love to have you come up for a visit!

If you are a visitor to the Upper New River Basin, you are welcome to submit any creative work in which the subject matter of the work submitted is primarily focused within the boundaries of the Upper New River Basin, with a definitive focus on environmental themes and interpretation (e.g., a sense of place). If you’re creating something about the Upper New River basin “from the outside looking in…” this makes sense to us.

We know that people come from all over the world to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway and other points of interest in the Upper New River Basin.  So, wherever you live on the planet, if you’re visiting the Upper New River Basin, we’d love to see your work.

Just passing through? We’d love to hear about it.

Tell us why you’ve chosen to visit the Upper New River Basin.

Submit your story to the Upper New Review!

Stories of Transition

Our Founder and Publisher, Dr. Benjamin Erlandson, has a personal story of transition from visitor to resident in the Upper New River Basin.

Ben was born in Elkin, North Carolina, near the headwaters of the Upper Yadkin River Basin (03040101), just down the escarpment from the edge of the Upper New.  Most of the Town of Elkin is in the Elkin Creek – Yadkin River watershed (0304010106).  Just after he was born, Ben lived briefly on the border of the Mitchell River watershed (0304010105) in the Lower Mitchell River subwatershed (030401010504) right near Klondike Farms before moving to the Sandyberry Creek – Yadkin River subwatershed (030401010606) in the Elkin Creek – Yadkin River watershed (0304010106).

When he was still in high school, his family built a small cabin at the base of Bullhead Mountain.  It has been expanded a few times since then.  When Ben moved back from California “for good” in 2014, within a couple of years he moved up to “the cabin” to live as a resident, in the Little River – New River watershed (0505000104).

As a child, Ben and his family would frequently visit many different parts of the Upper New River Basin, in Boone and Blowing Rock, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, up in Grayson Highlands, and in and around the New River.  There was a particular tree in Doughton Park that was considered the “family” tree, where one of the annual family photos would often be taken.  This tree has since fallen, making its slow transition back to the soil.

Photograph of a dead tree in a foggy mountain meadow.
Doughton Park, on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

Long story short:  Up until approximately 2016, Dr. Erlandson was a visitor to the Upper New River Basin.  Since then, he has been a resident.

What’s your transition story?

When did you become a resident of the Upper New River Basin, and why?

We want to know!

Ecocentrism: Residents, Beyond People.  

Here’s another way to think about residents and visitors in the Upper New River Basin: it’s not just about people.  Far from it.

All the “other” species in the world have the potential to be (or perhaps used to be) residents or visitors within the Upper New River Basin.

As humans, whether we’re residents or visitors, we share “our” watersheds with all the other species that live there, or are just passing through.  These species need the water, the sunshine and energy flows, the vegetation, the nutrients cycling through, and the carnivores and detritivores…well, you get the picture, right?

To take this argument a bit further, consider the human exemption (or exceptionalism) paradigm:

The view (paradigm) that humans are different from all other organisms, all human behaviour is controlled by culture and free will, and all problems can be solved by human ingenuity and technology. See also anthropocentrism.

Oxford Reference – Human exceptionalism paradigm

Then consider how this human exemption paradigm (or collective mindset, essentially)  is continuing to lose its foundation based on arguments such as this article providing background on sociobiology and a relatively new twist in human evolution based on single nucleotide polymorphisms.  Remember mindsets?  Remember the shift in mindsets associated with systems thinking?

In closing, consider this concept.  Think of any number of species, and try to decide whether individuals (or populations) of those species are residents or visitors within any given watershed or basin, such as the Upper New River.

Are cows residents or visitors?

Are black bears residents or visitors, or both?

What about migrating red tail hawks?

Ravens?  Oak trees?  Snapping turtles?  Chestnut trees?

Bison?  Wolves?  Elk?

Mountain magnolias?  Mountain lions?  Flame azaleas?  Bobcats?  Hemlocks?

Carolina lilies?

What about  Christmas trees?

What does it mean to be a native species?  

What does it mean to be an invasive species?

Which one are we?