Green Energy Power Glory, reads this mural opposite my hotel
I am fresh from an excellent day at the College of Charleston for ISSRM2015, if such a term can be used for how one feels after another day of high heat and humidity. I’m one of those people who often interrupts presentations, but it’s just because I’m so keen to maximize my time at conferences and have very broad interests. Today, however, I actually stayed in the same room for two whole sessions, one on ecosystem services, and one on traditional ecological knowledge, where Razak Abu’s nuanced talk on indigenous observations of post-dam hydro-ecological change in Saskatchewan really impressed. Then I began a scattershot campaign through the last afternoon session, dipping in on methods sessions: Q-method in Poland, Bayesian Decision Networks in the US, and PPGIS for Marine Spatial Planning in Denmark. The Student Quiz Bowl followed, happily chaotic, where the Jeopardy-style competition was won in a suspicious come-from-behind by Penn State. Finally, a lovely shrimp boil lawn party with classic rock. Tomorrow is the last day of conferencing before the Energy team meeting begins again. Am looking forward to getting back to the coastal breeze at Folly Beach.
Razak Abu presenting on indigenous perspectives of Saskatchewan River Delta hydrology at ISSRM2015
Kate, Kristina and Simon at the Charleston Aquarium during ISSRM
Great to be at this conference with two of my Dalhousie MES research trainees, Kristina and Simon, thanks to the support of the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSRHC). Yesterday, Simon presented his thesis research on farmer perceptions of wetlands, based on in situ interviews with Annapolis Valley farmers, testing the implications of environmental differences. He used an ecosystem services framework in his qualitative coding, and comparing the prevalence of those with TEEB valuation data, showing how important it is to get away from focusing only on the services that can be quantified monetarily. His presentation was well-received, one of a number of interesting sessions on farmer perceptions and identity. I enjoyed, for instance, Fred Saunders‘ reflection on a fragmentation in what it means to be a ‘good farmer’ in Sweden, in the same session as Simon, and Matt DeAngelo‘s plan to survey Oregon farmers about BMPs to improve water quality upstream of Portland, to potentially inform payments for ecosystem services (PES).
Simon answering questions after his presentation at ISSRM2015
ISSRM conference planners have done a great job of encouraging networking through formal mentoring and workshops, and lots of mingle time with social lubricants and good food, the pursuit of which otherwise drives people away from some conferences, fragmenting those opportunities to connect. Great to have my students introducing me to people I should meet, as often as I am introducing them.
Matt and Kristina enjoying the Charleston waterfront during ISSRM
Map of the Gullah-Geechee Nation
Tuesday started with an electrifying performance from Queen Quet, elected chieftess of the Gullah-Geechee Nation. This indigenous culture emerged from the mix of African cultures brought to the low country and barrier islands as slaves, along with the already present indigenous people of the marshy fringe from Jacksonville NC to Jacksonville FL. Quet has played an important role in preserving and promoting the Gullah-Geechee Nation, and she performed for us the story of the people and their challenges, starting in song and heavy dialect with a traditional costume of headscarf and sarong, walking around the stage. As she walked and spoke, her dialect changed but so did her garb, the traditional shed for modern, bare feet for high heels. A student I spoke to said he stopped listening at first, because he couldn’t understand, then realized that was what she was trying to do – show us that just because you don’t understand a people does not mean that they are not there, that you can make decisions for them or their place. She showed us that they are still there, no matter what they look like and sound like today.
They have some very particular challenges to sustain their culture, due to the tendency to have verbal rather than written wills, meaning that heirs inherit land as shareholders. The collective management this calls for is difficult, and shares can be sold out of the family, new ‘heirs’ then able to sue for the land to be sold. Dr. Jennie Stephens spoke with great eloquence and humour about the very important work of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, which is helping the Gullah-Geechee members get clear title to their land without fragmenting it or losing it to developers. In addition, they are helping train those Nation members how to make the land work for them, via forestry initiatives. See details at their YouTube channel.
The gracious lawns of the College of Charleston
We have arrived for unseasonably warm and sticky weather here in Charleston, but the scenery is restorative (as well as the overenthusiastic air conditioning). Day one of ISSRM2015 saw all of the presentations directly related to our Energy Transitions in Canada project. Kristina Keilty was up first thing, talking about local baselines of acceptability around the Mactaquac headpond, then Matt Dairon talking about his southern Alberta Q-method case study. John Parkins used our National Energy Survey to examine whether trust was actually good, if we want more public participation in energy decisions, and I presented a poster on our Before the Mactaquac Dam storymap. Four different dimensions of the project, with varying scales and methods, and all received a positive buzz.
Dylan Bugden queries John about his analytical model at ISSRM
With John Parkins on Folly Beach
Have arrived in sweltering Charleston, SC, for ISSRM 2015, to a nearby beach house rented for the Energy team members and some colleagues. It’s a working day, appearances notwithstanding, tackling the data from last fall’s national energy survey, and talking about information disssemination plans and new grants. A long breakfast fuelled some discussion, most opting for ICED coffee given the 33 degree day, but not me. Looking forward to a productive week.
With John Parkins and Rich Stedman at the Black Magic Cafe for an extended breakfast.