Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Landscape (page 1 of 19)

IVSA by Amtrak

Beautiful downtown Saratoga Springs, NY

Beautiful downtown Saratoga Springs, NY

Just back on the weekend from a trip to my first IVSA (International Visual Sociology Association) conference, in Saratoga Springs, NY. What a fascinating group of people: sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, documentarians and artists all come together to explore the intersection of visual culture and society. A very international group, too, and welcoming to new members like me. I think I’ll have to straddle IVSA and ISSRM as academic homes from now on. Hoping to get to Dublin for IVSA2020.

Thanks ecent for this very meta shot of me.

Thanks ecent for this very meta shot of me.

Highlights were many. John Grady’s categorization of picture-making traditions was compelling, as was Anna Sarzynska’s typology of the unintended impacts of tourist photography and Celine Missoorten’s observations on reasons for the rebirth of analog photography and slow media. Dee Britton took a compelling semi-quantitative approach to explore Civil War memorials spatially and over time, feeding into documentary footage from Charlottesville shared by Joyce Sebag and Jean-Pierre Durand, and a reimagining of the Virginia state flag by Eric Sencindiver. Relebohile Moletsane explored the academic push-back she has received about using PhotoVoice with South African girls documenting their sexual abuse.  One session about using photos and PhotoVoice in the university setting had lots of great ideas for my qualitative class, and inspired a fascinating discussion about how to represent minority students in university marketing. Australian documentary filmmaker Catherine Gough-Brady explored our capacity to empathize without a hero, and US filmmaker Kathy Kasic described her ‘sensory verite’ approach in documenting Antarctic ice core research. Documentaries were playing in an adjacent room, of which I caught Expect Delays (by Gough-Brady) and parts of Arrhythmia and The Area. Plenary guests Youth FX/Rogue FX blew us all away as a model for empowerment and training.

Royal Roads' Jean Slick painted this based on YouTube videos of dash cam footage of the Fort McMurray fire evacuation.

Royal Roads’ Jean Slick painted this based on YouTube videos of dash cam footage of the Fort McMurray fire evacuation.

Canadians were outstanding, as is to be expected: Carolina Cambre and Christine Lawrence shared work on teens and selfie filters in Canada; Jean Slick painted the Fort McMurray evacuation experience from YouTube videos from dash cams (see one above); and Guillaume Clermont passed over a dozen paintings around the room to make tangible his points on reproduction, ‘originality’ and the ‘image flood’. The sessions were very well organized thematically, with lots of time for rich discussion. My discussion of culturomic tools was well received, fitting nicely into Paolo Faveri’s exploration of GPS tracking tools and other means of revealing the forces that drive how people use our urban spaces, and Christine Louveau de la Guignereye on the challenges of engaging with new media including coding literacy, asking: “is multimedia like Esperanto, a false good idea?”

While loathe to leave, I was excited to hop back on the Amtrak to Montreal, by which I’d also arrived. The trip is a stunning one, along Lac Champlain and adjacent rivers, looking across high water levels and heron-rich wetlands to Mountains in Vermont. Well worth the US$92 return price. I’d do it just for fun, but the train was almost empty. People of Montreal, what are you doing?

Along the Amtrak from Saratoga Springs to Montreal.

Views along the Amtrak from Saratoga Springs to Montreal.

The mountains of Vermont across Lac Champlain, from the Saratoga Springs to Montreal Amtrak train.

The mountains of Vermont across Lac Champlain, from the Saratoga Springs to Montreal Amtrak train.


Congratulations, Ellen!

Ellen Chappell with me after her successful defense Monday, June 17, 2019.

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.

MES student achievements

A work of art featured in the new MES-curated Dal Art Gallery show Nature as Communities

A work of art featured in the new MES-curated Dal Art Gallery show Nature as Communities

A few quick things to mention about our wonderful MES students at SRES, before I head out for ISSRM on the weekend.

  • Jennifer Yakamovich, who is studying environmental art with Tarah Wright (I’m only a committee member) has curated a visual art show at the Dalhousie Art Gallery with some of her research participants, called Nature as Communities. DalNews did a nice profile on her work.
  • Jaya Fahey, who I’ve been working with on Space to Roost, collaborating with beach users to share beaches with migrating shorebirds, today shared a short documentary that features the project, Sharing the Coast with Shorebirds.
  • Finally, Ellen Chappell presented this morning at Energy Research & Social Science, in Tempe, Arizona, about her survey-based Masters work on utilitarian landscape change and renewable energy in the Chignecto. She’ll be first in her cohort to defend June 17.

Brava, everyone!

Chapter out on resilience and HM

Archtypal land sparing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape.

Archetypal land sparing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape.

Back in 2014 colleagues at Leuphana and I had a chapter accepted in a volume of Ecological Reviews on Agricultural Resilience: perspectives from ecology and economics. I’m delighted to be able to report that the volume is finally published, five years later. Our chapter looks at the resilience implications of land sharing and land sparing, using as a case study the southeastern sheep-wheat belt where co-author Joern Fischer and I did our postdocs back at ANU in the late 2000s.  We compared grazing archetypes of land sparing (fencing out dense woodlands for protection while continuously grazing the rest; see above) and land sharing (farmers using HM, who grazed intensively and rotationally pretty much everywhere on their farms, supporting scattered trees and their recruitment but few dense woodlands; see below). The resilience implications of these options are analyzed, integrating ecology, economics and social dimensions, and consistent with where the broader sharing/sparing debate has settled, reached the conclusion that a diversity of approaches is needed for system-wide sustainability.

Archetypal land sharing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape, thanks to HM

Archetypal land sharing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape thanks to HM to the left of the fence.

Some of my favourite parts of the chapter are the sample quotes included on the social challenges of adopting HM practices that draw from my 2008 photo-elicitation interviews with graziers across a range of practices. They speak to the mundane yet powerful barriers of change that come from our need for relationships and respect: for instance,  not having anything to talk to conventional farmers about at BBQs (“what will I open with?”), or having people think they’ve “lost the plot” and feeling the pressure after HM training to “go like a sheep and follow the rest” rather than convert. Such pressures align with some of what we’re hearing from HM trainers, too.

New paper: conceptual mapping of Instagram

The second paper from Yan Chen’s MES thesis is now out in Society and Natural Resources, Leveraging social media to understand younger people’s perceptions and use of hydroelectric energy landscapes. It is a research note demonstrating the utility of manual coding and conceptual mapping of a year of Instagram images around two hydroelectricity sites to predict how changes might affect young residents. Unlike her first thesis paper in Landscape and Urban Planning, which carried out spatial mapping of value ‘hotspots’–a method widespread in today’s growing literature on cultural ecosystem services–this paper makes statistical links between features, activities and values conveyed through Instagram. The diagrams provide insight to the lifestyle and emotions associated with different landscape features, some changeable with hydro development or removal, and informs our new work on conservation culturomics for social impact assessment. Yan continues to drive this work as an IDPhD student. Congratulations, Yan.

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