Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Cool Sherren byline in G&M

I looked out our windows at that mill for 14 years and yet can’t figure out where they took that photo from.

Very proud to read this opinion piece by Rob Sherren (damn straight, relation) in the Globe and Mail yesterday, The market doesn’t care about your community. A hard truth, and one that explains much industrially derived grief today from Alberta to Ontario to Nova Scotia. Industry is more than economy, it is culture and identity and community. I find it interesting that the bio lists Rob’s work as the ‘energy sector’, which in these days of government pipelines and bailouts is usually code for the oil and gas sector, but my brother develops wind farms.

The sea is so big and my boat so small

I’m surfacing after going offline for a day to reflect on my recent lesson in Remedial Internet 101. I don’t tweet–simply haven’t the constitution for it–but merely keep record of my doings in this unfashionable corner of the blogosphere. I am ill suited to the multi-channel (and Janus-faced) modes of modern academic debate.  I was grateful to be told directly that I had been hurtful with an analogy I used yesterday: when I’m wrong I apologize and try to fix it. It was a lapse in empathy on my part; the visual it had conjured pleased me for its aptness, blinding me to how it might feel to receive.  Retractions never make the ‘front page’ of online discourse, however.

I hear now that I am being accused of gate-keeping and being against boundary work. With some reflection, this may be a fair accusation. If all this boundary work was going swimmingly I’d have little reason to complain; but it is not, and so sometimes I do. I think that the best boundary work is actually drawing on many skill-sets, and is thus interdisciplinary.  I’ve argued before that disciplines, while they sometimes get a bad rap, are really useful. People are complicated.  Disciplines create theory, norms, and progress critical to ‘interdisciplines’, and those interstitial domains are better if they can draw on healthy disciplines via integration-minded experts. Its like jellyfish: the floating medusa phase and the anchored polyp phase are both needed. But maybe I should stop using animal analogies.

Response article in Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Proud to be one of a strong list of applied social science experts co-authoring a paper out this week, Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology, and methods (open access). Led by the clear-headed Katie Moon, of UNSW Canberra, this new article responds to a special feature in Methods in Ecology and Evolution on qualitative methods for decision-making. Given the mix of methods they included (e.g. including Q-method and MCDA), it seems they used qualitative as if synonymous with social, which is one of my pet peeves. But there were more substantial issues with the special issue. I have written before that I weary of reviewing papers led by teams of natural scientists who wade into social science work without involving any experienced social scientists, so was really happy to weigh in with this great team.

Full disclosure: I joined the team late, and my rationale is not theirs; I speak only for myself. But it was a real joy to develop fellowship and debate ideas with this group, despite our far-flung geography. I’m sorry only that a poorly considered analogy fuelled an angry place online, already in oversupply, distracting from the value of this contribution and the good faith of its lead authors. Good response articles are not the result of indoctrinated voices speaking in unison, but rather a novel network of scholars working together to iron out some of the wrinkles that have been causing collective discomfort. And there is just nothing like slipping into freshly laundered sheets.

Flooding and adaptation on the Wolastoq

Saint John River flooding near Maugerville, Dec 26, 2018.

Saint John River flooding near Maugerville, Dec 26, 2018.

Weather was fine for my drives back and forth to Fredericton for Christmas, but the rains that had come a few days before were clearly taking their toll. The Saint John River (Wələstəq) commonly sees spring flooding, particularly bad this past year, but Christmas floods are not common.  I took the 105 from Sheffield to Fredericton both ways, and the flooding along Maugerville and the Nashwaak looked like spring, save the ice pans in the river.

It was also interesting, however, to see residents taking action. After the last floods, the government offered to buy severely damaged homes (>80% of assessed value in damage), or pay out a higher amount (15% more to help with moving, raising, etc) if the homeowners would sign a document agreeing never to ask for flood compensation from the government again. I wonder if this monetary incentive to adapt in situ was the reason for some of the works I saw along the 105 during my drive. The Saint John River is still affected by Bay of Fundy tides at this point, so sea level rise will only make this area more affected in future. Whether these adaptations are fit-for-purpose remains to be seen.

Land built up and home raised with new foundations along Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

Land built up and home raised with new foundations along Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

Based on the amount of land disturbance, this house may have been moved back as well as up. Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

Based on the amount of land disturbance, this house may have been moved back as well as up. Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

Apparent new hill for this pretty little house to perch on, Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.Apparent new hill for this pretty little house to perch on, Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

Apparent new hill for this pretty little house to perch on, Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

Riprap and raising, for this house, Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

Riprap for this house, possibly a new construction, Rte 105, Dec 26, 2018.

 

Bird Watcher’s Digest coverage

Quick Takes coverage of Space to Roost in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Bird Water's Digest.

Quick Takes coverage of Space to Roost in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Bird Water’s Digest.

Congratulations to MES candidate Jaya Fahey, and collaborators from her MES sponsors and Mitacs host, Bird Studies Canada, for the coverage of Space to Roost in the recent issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest. Our innovative approach to negotiating and motivating high-tide beach sharing for migrating shorebirds has received interest from places like Newfoundland and Georgia and we hope to see more examples of this kind of collaborative conservation in future as a result.

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