Vaccination rates are rising, and people are returning to those favorite places, the feel-good spaces that are easily accessible and evoke emotion. A good place draws us in through all our senses and what is or is not happening there. Its colors, spatial dimensions, sounds, and tactile appeal make a difference. Even the smells matter. They jolt the memory slides of our past, hitting us, for instance, when we open the door to our favorite bakery and experience the sweet scent of baking bread or we walk beside a creek and smell organic matter decomposing.
Whether manufactured or natural, social or secluded, these spots are places of importance to us, and we are drawn to share them with those important in our lives. The number of minutes spent there are immaterial, moments walking through the woods and at the coffee shop chatting with friends, but they feel safe and comfortable and rejuvenate.
In an informal survey, we asked people to name a few places in their communities that mattered to them in 2021, those that made them feel good, proud, and alive, and where stress melted away. They may not make the iconic sites global travelers have on their bucket lists, but they are the most rewarding to people living in Great Falls.