Ellen Chappell with me after her successful defense Monday, June 17, 2019.
Congratulations to Ellen Chappell, who was first in her cohort to defend her MES this past Monday: she set a high bar indeed. The defense was well-timed to come after she presented the work at the Energy Research & Social Science conference at the end of May in Tempe, Arizona, and immediately before a Dal-based Clean Tech Research event. Thanks to committee member John Parkins and examiner Heather Braiden for engaging richly in Ellen’s work, despite calling in, and chair Peter Tyedmers and the sizable and engaged audience for managing to make it an event despite having so few committee members present in the flesh.
Ellen’s work explores the connections people have to landscape features that were created for specific uses, even when those uses fade, and what those kinds of connections mean for new landscape additions, specifically wind turbines. She made the first tests of climax thinking in her Chignecto Isthmus case study, and provided some encouraging results. We’ll be expanding on those results next week, when first-year MES Krysta Sutton and I start running our focus groups with coastal residents around Nova Scotia about climate adaptation options.
Canada’s Climate Change Ambassador, Patricia Fuller (Photo @tcadaptations)
I spent most of this week at an excellent workshop organized by TransCoastal Adaptations, a group led by Danika van Proosdij at Saint Mary’s that I’m aligned with via the Making Room for Movement project. Attendees came from across Canada and the US from academe but also government, NGOs, consulting and other practitioners, and instead of most conferences where those fragment across parallel sessions, the entire event was held in plenary style. This led to wonderfully rich conversations around the shared challenges we faced as members or stakeholders of the Cold Regions Living Shorelines Community of Practice. I met engaged folks from West Coast Environmental Law, White Point Lodge, Helping Nature Heal, Nature Conservancy, Kensington North Watersheds Association, Army Corps of Engineers, CBCL Consulting, and the Geological Survey of Canada, to name just a few, and had the rare opportunity to have dinner with Patricia Fuller, Canada’s Climate Change Ambassador.
Many definitions and synonyms of ‘nature-based’ were discussed, and I noted the tendency of the conversation toward ‘holding the line’ naturally rather than changing what we do behind that line, however green and/or fuzzy it is. Danika and I co-led a session on the communication dimensions where I called for empathy around the challenges that people face talking about retreat and other significant adaptations. We also presented our OECD case study, which prompted a discussion about how communication can be unpredictable. One person volunteered that instead of telling citizens what needs to be done, Surrey found it is best to show them the data and let them discover what needs to be done, then they own it. A Clean Foundation program manager talked about how they approached a First Nations community looking for sites to restore to salt marsh, but heard back about values to restore (such as specific plants). The Ecology Action Centre found that attendance at meetings varies dramatically depending on how recently adverse events have been experienced in the location. There is much more work to be done on best practices in this space. We are looking forward to contributing to the conversation after our focus groups in coming months.
Flooded islands from Springhill Road, foggy Easter Sunday morning
Another long weekend, another trip to Fredericton. Feeling lucky to get through on the Trans-Canada, particularly upon return, given flood stage at Jemseg. Despite the impacts to many up and down river, Fredericton still throws an impromptu ‘flood fest’ at such times, with residents driving downtown to view the swollen river and flooded infrastructure. Based on the art installation showing the levels of past floods (see upright posts, below), unlike last year this one will not make the history books. [Update Apr 25: I spoke too soon. Fredericton has now broken records and the highway is closed at Jemseg]
Impromptu flood fest at the Fredericton waterfront, Easter Sunday
The newly renovated Beaverbrook had its flood gates up, but we were able to drop in to see the wonderful show by Ian MacEachern, The Lost City, documenting the vibrant community before and during urban ‘renewal’ in Saint John in 1968. Interesting to see this in the context of Halifax’s Cogswell Interchange renewal process: we’re pulling down the highway interchange created after slum clearance around the same time here.
Ian MacEachern photography show on urban renewal and dispossession in Saint John at the Beaverbrook
Front row to flooding at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton