Mayor’s Message: Focusing on the next generation of residents

Mayor Manzo discusses the importance of ‘home’

Mayor Louis Manzo

In my role as your mayor, I spent a great deal of my time with the other town leaders focused on how our community evolves. In fact, I believe it’s the most important aspect of the role we play…..ensuring our “hometown” retains its history and charm as it evolves. This sense of home serves as an anchor, especially for those of us who have raised our families here. In Mullica Hill, we are seeing many of our next generation seeking to settle their lives’ path close to “home.” Why is that? I read an article a few years ago by Dr. Frank McAndrew that speaks to the psychology of that, here are some excerpts:

“It is no secret that individuals develop very strong emotional attachments to the places that they live. A strong attachment to the place that you live results in greater satisfaction with your home and expectations of future stability in that place. These feelings transcend attachments to other people in the area and represent a genuine affection for the physical location itself, and the passage of time strengthens our attachment to the places that we live. Because our physical surroundings play such an important role in creating a sense of meaning and organization in our lives, it is not surprising that our sense of the place we live is closely tied to our sense of who we are.

“In 2008, The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of 2,260 American adults. Among other things, they asked participants to identify ‘the place in your heart you consider to be home.’ Twenty-six percent reported that “home” was where they were born or raised; only 22 percent said that it was where they lived now. Eighteen percent identified home as the place that they had lived the longest, and 15 percent felt that it was where their family had come from. Four percent said that home was where they had gone to high school.

“The importance of returning ‘home for the holidays,’ usually to share at least one large meal, reflects the importance of home places in maintaining the bonds between people. Such homecoming rituals affirm and renew a person’s place in the family and often are a key factor in preserving the family’s social fabric.

“For all people, home is the center of the world and a place of order that contrasts with the chaos elsewhere. When asked to draw a picture of ‘where you live,’ children and adolescents worldwide invariably center their drawings around the home, making it the anchor for everything else.”

I think Dr. McAndrew’s research affirms that each of us decides what “home” is based on our connection and experience to the various places we live. It’s not necessarily where we were born or raised. For me, Mullica Hill will always be “home” now, even though I’ve only spent one-third of my life here. What about you?