Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: cultural landscapes (page 1 of 5)

New year, new challenges

The mainland side of the Canso causeway, you can see the additional transmission capacity being constructed in preparation for the Maritime Link from Labrador's Muskrat Falls.

The mainland side of the Canso causeway, you can see the additional transmission capacity being constructed in preparation for the Maritime Link from Labrador’s Muskrat Falls.

Things are quiet on the blog as I start a new term (and new course, and new Senate term) after a year’s sabbatical.  A forced trip to Cape Breton increased the pressure, though it also occasioned reminders of my day job. I ran into Ducks Unlimited Canada collaborators in Sydney. We saw energy infrastructure being reinforced in preparation for the Maritime Link (above), as well as clear evidence of coastal storm damage that may have climate links (below). Right before term started I was asked by Natural Resources Canada to be the coordinating lead author for the Atlantic Canada chapter of the new National Climate Change Assessment. The last one was in 2008.  A daunting but welcome opportunity to serve.

A damaged boardwalk at Port Hood, Cape Breton.

A damaged boardwalk at Port Hood, Cape Breton.

Urban stasis … what about rural?

Mural on the in-progress Roy Building on Barrington Street, downtown Halifax, featuring a quote by architect Daniel Liebskind.

Mural on the in-progress Roy Building on Barrington Street, downtown Halifax, featuring a quote by architect Daniel Liebskind.

Halifax is a mess. I’m not kidding. For those of us who have cars and kids in summer camps all over the place, instead of its usual peaceful summer self, Halifax is detour central. Downtown is under construction, with towers pushing out of heritage skins, and two of the five roads leading into the dreaded Armdale Rotary are closed for various reasons. This is relatively new. For years, nothing could be built downtown, it seemed, because of the need to protect views to the 18th century defensive citadel at the heart of the city. While the volume of work simultaneously underway is inconvenient, it is like a wildfire spreading after decades or centuries of fire suppression. This is Yellowstone, circa 1988.   Liebskind is right (see photo). The citadel is not what Halifax is about anymore.  It doesn’t meet new needs for urban densification, for instance. (It also bears mentioning, it never did meet needs; the Citadel was never attacked.)

But why stop at cities? Why is it that busses line up on cruise ship days to take thousands of visitors  to Peggy’s Cove? Peggy’s Cove is a simulacra of an 18th century coastal Nova Scotia fishing village, with its Peggy’s Point Lighthouse sitting atop massive granite outcrops arguably the most photographed place in the region. Rather than relying on fishing, this place and others like it now rely on tourism that commemorates a Golden Age idea of ‘Maritimicity’ (coined by eminent Canadian historian Ian McKay in 1988). We might need rural places for new things, like renewable energy, but if we’re not careful, the ‘tourism state’ will deny such alternate visions.

Falklands PPGIS paper out

Congratulations to Denise Blake for her paper, out today in Ocean and Coastal Management, Participatory mapping to elicit cultural coastal values for Marine Spatial Planning in a remote archipelago (free for 50 days). The paper is based on map-elicited cultural values mapping of the Falkland Islands coasts. This work was undertaken to inform the Marine Spatial Planning process underway in the Falklands, led by Amelie Auge, I really enjoyed advising on this project. The geographical and connectivity issues in the Falklands made a more typical web-based PPGIS (public participation GIS) process impossible, and so it called for careful design to elicit values from citizens.  The analysis revealed particular hotspots of local value, but also that people were not particularly attached to areas near them.

Energy Impacts Symposium

The cover slide of my Energy Impacts presentation, a synthesis of work on several fronts.

The cover slide of my Energy Impacts presentation, a synthesis of landscape work on several fronts.

The last two days I spent at the gigantic Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio (it has it’s own traffic radio station), in a gaggle of energy impacts social scientists. The Energy Impacts Symposium was a product of a US NSF Research Coordination grant co-held by Jeffrey Jacquet (OSU) and Julia Haggerty (MSU). The event brought together some great keynotes on energy issues, including Benjamin Sovacool on energy justice, Monica Ehrman on energy realism, and Janet Stephenson on long-term shifts in energy cultures. Despite the heavy and understandable focus on the US shale experience, given what Stephenson described as the American “state of siege” by that fuel, the commonwealth made a strong showing. In addition to Stephenson, from New Zealand (and Ehrman, a Canadian living in the US), there was a strong contingent of Australian, UK and Canadian academics across all stages. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends like Tom Measham and expand networks in those of us working under Westminster settings, that (thankfully) results in very different outcomes in governance and on the ground.

The engagement with scholars across career levels was very strong thanks in part to a competitive ‘Symposium Fellow’ program. A number of ‘Fellows’ were Commonwealth: Bec Colvin (ANU, my alma mater), who gave a fantastic talk on social rifts as a result of wind energy consultation in King Island, Nichole Dusyk, working across hydro and pipelines in postdoctoral work at SFU, and Eryn Fitzgerald (UVic) who as a Masters student among PhD and postdocs won second on the poster award for her work on indigenous hydro in BC. Leah Stokes (originally Canadian, now UCSB) gave a great talk on the degree of public backlash from wind projects. This is not to slight the Americans, of course. I saw a great presentation by Weston Eaton (Penn State) on biomass crops, and Julia Haggerty on ‘social license to exit’, as well as super posters by scholars such as Kristin Smith (MSU), Chris Podeski (Bloomsburg U of Penn), Meryl Gardner (Delaware) and the talented Anne Junod (OSU). Such riches of relevant research solidifies for me the value of prioritizing the attendance of problem-based, rather than disciplinary, meetings.

I was honored to receive a travel award to attend this event on the strength of my submitted abstract, Toward a non-equilibrium model of change in cultural landscapes. I was also grateful that the funding gave me a hard deadline for doing this planned synthesis around landscape emerging from SSHRC-funded work on energy (hydro and dam removal, renewable transitions) and agricultural dykelands. This presentation will now be converted to a chapter for a collected volume being co-edited by the conference steering committee this fall.

At day at the mines – redux ISSRM 2016

After acknowledging in the last post that this is still in my draft folder from ISSRM 2016, I was inspired to dig it out and post it. I think it should have appeared before this one as field trips were pre-conference last year.

Spent a great day on an ISSRM-organized field trip to the copper mine region of Cliffton and Eagle River on the Keeweenaw Peninsula, able guided by MTU archaeologist Tim Scarlett and his grad students John and Brendan. Fascinating to hear about the ways that the deposits of stamp sand, which have changed the landscape so much in places like Gay, are seen as cultural landscapes inspiring place attachment despite the pollution they carry.

Landscape then and now. It takes expertise to see traces of mining industry in these hills.

Landscape then and now. It takes expertise to see traces of mining industry in these hills.

A great surprise to encounter SRES colleague, alumna and students on the beach at Eagle River, MI.

A great surprise to encounter SRES colleague (Simon), alumna (Kate) and current students (Taylor and Yan) on the beach at Eagle River, MI.

A remarkable notch dam at Eagle Harbour, MI.

A remarkable notch dam at Eagle Harbour, MI.

Great also to run into the rest of the Dalhousie cohort on the beach afterward (above), outside the excellent Fitzgerald’s Restaurant, where we had southern fare. They had just arrived after their epic drive from Halifax via Toronto. Then the tour continued on to Eagle Harbour, once boomtown now summer retreat. I was fascinated by this ‘notch’ dam (left) constructed in the bedrock riverbed. While gawping, I dropped my water bottle off the bridge from which I’m taking this picture. It was a long and perilous climb down and back up, but I couldn’t let it lie there. I just hoped that precarious dam held a little while longer…

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