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A collection of thoughts and hand-drawn sketches that illustrate the value of looking closely at buildings and places.



Topography of the Heart

As a child in Greensboro, North Carolina, I loved the secret places beyond the lawns where birds nested, where they chirruped and scratched in the leaves and sat on their speckled eggs. I discovered these mossy nooks because my mother frequently locked me out of the house.

This is not as bad as it sounds. I’m grateful that I had the freedom to wander outdoors alone or with friends. If life is a journey, it’s good to know about the dark woods and the ditches early on.

Later I studied in London, living alone in a working-class neighborhood north of Kentish Town. In the street below my window, neighborhood children played until teatime. They, too, were locked out. At dusk, the “tellies” began to wink behind lace curtains and mothers called to their children.

I suspect these outdoor kids came to love that particular scrap of London as much as my friends and I loved our patch of woods in North Carolina. We would find better places, though never a place so real.

“Every child begins the world again, to some extent, and loves to stay outdoors,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “even in wet and cold.”


Native Places Book Cover

Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See: A book by Frank Harmon. To learn more click here.

Frank Harmon is an architect, educator, and writer who is well known for designing buildings that cultivate the “native wisdom” of their place.

He sketches often, finding that the practice enriches his connection to the world. In his recently released book, Frank offers an invitation: drawing as a way to inspire curiosity, presence, and everyday joy.

Native Places is available in many local book stores. To find out if it is available in a store near you click here.

If you can’t find it locally it is available on Amazon. To buy click here.