Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Maps (page 1 of 4)

NOLA book serendipity

Three books from my AAG trip to New Orleans

Three books from my AAG trip to New Orleans

Bookshelf serendipity strikes again! I can’t resist telling this story, though it was awhile ago. Appropriate to the geography conference I was in town to attend, I bought a compelling atlas of New Orleans by Rebeccas Solnit and Snedeker, Unfathomable City, part of a series at UC Press, at a small bookstore behind the Cabildo. Each map and essay tells an idiosyncratic story about the place, including human and river channel migrations, social and landscape erosions, including social clubs, seafood and sex. While excellent, it wasn’t an easy one to tote in my bag for idle moments.

The ‘take a book, leave a book’ shelf at my hotel filled the gap with But What if We’re Wrong, by pop seer Chuck Klosterman (sorry Columns Hotel, I’ll leave one next time). Klosterman is talking about the same thing that I was at AAG to talk about: climax thinking. He asks how we can learn to make decisions anticipating the many ways that we might be wrong, so we don’t box ourselves in. Instead we denigrate the people who made decisions or assessments we reflect upon today as folly, but assume against evidence that we’re going to be right. There is something to be said about doubt.

Having finished both of the above, I needed another book for the flight home. During a layover in Toronto airport I bought Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowicz. He is a computer scientist who thinks data mining has replaced social science, so a few sections (particularly the conclusion) grated, but this was a fun (and surprisingly dirty) introduction to how secondary online datasets like our Google queries help us learn what people are really thinking and feeling. I have since brought up his examples in a few social science contexts, like the energy incubator at Cornell. I’m loathe to hand it to students, given some of the icky content (people are, it turns out, gross), but as survey response rates drop, offensiphobia rules, and questions around sustainability cross the sociology/psychology boundary, such datasets may well be the only way we can really understand what kind of society we are really working with.

Caitlin’s first paper

See the difference?

See the difference?

I’ve been enjoying peripheral involvement with Peter Tyedmer’s students working on pollination ecosystem services. First, Andony Melathopoulos showed how tenuous ecosystem service valuations are, using pollination services as an example. Now, Caitlin Cunningham has shown how critical it is to get local field data. The first paper out of her MES thesis uses the InVEST model to explore the carrying capacity of several Nova Scotia counties for honeybees, and shows how important it is to get boots on the ground rather than rely on proxies such as ecological land classifications and other such base spatial data infrastructure. The good news for the bee industry is coming in the next paper. Congratulations, Caitlin.

ESRI Canada ‘App of the Month’

McNally's Ferry - erstwhile town and transportation infrastructure on the Saint John River, pre-Mactaquac Dam and today.

McNally’s Ferry – erstwhile town and transportation infrastructure on the Saint John River, pre-Mactaquac Dam and today.

Congratulations to MREM alum Larissa Holman, for news that our Before the Mactaquac Dam storymap was selected as ESRI Canada’s App of the Month for October (French version here).  Larissa worked with me back in 2015 supported by Energy Transitions (Parkins PI) SSHRC funding.  Larissa is now working with Ottawa Riverkeepers, and reports that her job:

… is a nice mix of keeping on top of projects, investigation work when someone reports pollution or odd activity on the river, working with some really wonderful and knowledgeable volunteers and the occasional canoe trip or boat ride out on the river.

A great alum story for a lovely fall day.

Meeting at Carleton’s Fahrig Lab

A diversity of scholars hard at work at Carleton on issues of sustainable agricultural landscape patterns and ecosystem services.

A diversity of scholars hard at work at Carleton on issues of sustainable agricultural landscape patterns and ecosystem services.

Thanks to Lenore Fahrig and her team at Carleton, as well as funding from NSERC, for the opportunity to participate yesterday in a meeting of minds about sustainable agricultural landscapes and ecosystem services. Significant snowfall created a cloistered feel and a productive mindset. While numbers were dominated by ecologists, agricultural and spatial scientists from universities, government and NGOs, it was a welcoming and collaborative environment, and ideas about the integration of social science research and stakeholder engagement were greeted enthusiastically.

Congratulations Yan Chen

Yan Chen, MES 2016

Yan Chen, MES 2016

Yan Chen defended her innovative SSHRC- and NSGS-funded MES thesis masterfully on Friday. She gleaned youth landscape values from a year’s worth of Instagram images from a 5-km radius of the actual and proposed headponds, respectively, of the Mactaquac and Site C dams. Being the first defense since a large new class of MES students started in the fall, the room was packed with supporters. Committee member John Parkins skyped in from the University of Alberta, and Faculty of Management colleague Jennifer Grek-Martin examined the thesis, which included wide-ranging discussions on landscape, sense of place, aesthetics, digitalism (our new religion as described by Yuval Harari), and virtual/augmented reality. It was everything you hope a defense can be: Yan spoke strongly in support of her work, and creatively about its potential implications and improvements. I look forward to getting her papers out in the literature, and building on it with a SSHRC Insight Grant that went in on Monday, led by colleague and expert in making Big Data matter, Mike Smit.

 

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