Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: research output (page 1 of 8)

New paper on farm fragmentation

The variety of farm geographies in Nova Scotia, by number of parcels and time to drive across.

The variety of farm geographies in Nova Scotia, by number of parcels and time to drive across.

When I first started to do farm biodiversity research in Nova Scotia, after doing the same in Australia, I was surprised by how small and sometimes fragmented the farms were (see above). I wondered if that was a boon or a bust for farm biodiversity. Did having a contiguous farm make the farmer see it more as an ecosystem, and thus make them more likely to foster biodiversity, or did having a fragmented farm make the farmer set aside far-flung places for such purposes? Turns out fragmentation has no real impact on farm habitat provision; farm area does. Read about it at The Canadian Geographer.

Governing Shale Gas: new book

Matt Dairon, John Parkins and I now have a chapter out on Matt’s Masters work at U of A in Governing Shale Gas: Development, Citizen Participation, and Decision Making in the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Our chapter is near the back, chapter 17 of 18: Seeking common ground in contested energy technology landscapes: Insights from a Q Methodology study.  While the book is about shale gas, this case study uses the same concourse as another recent paper, but in sites of shale and wind farm development in southwestern Alberta, and with interviews to bring nuance.

Edited by John Whitton, Matthew Cotton, Ioan M. Charnley-Parry, and Kathy Brasier, this book:

“… attempts to bring together critical themes inherent in the energy governance literature and illustrate them through cases in multiple countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Germany and Poland. These themes include how multiple actors and institutions – industry, governments and regulatory bodies at all scales, communities, opposition movements, and individual landowners – have roles in developing, contesting, monitoring, and enforcing practices and regulations within unconventional oil and gas development. Overall, the book proposes a systemic, participatory, community-led approach required to achieve a form of legitimacy that allows communities to derive social priorities by a process of community visioning. This book will be of great relevance to scholars and policy-makers with an interest in shale gas development, and energy policy and governance.”

New paper on HM trainers

Carolyn Mann’s first paper out of the HM project – Holistic Management and adaptive grazing: a trainers’ view – is online this morning at Sustainability, and open access. Ours is the first paper out in a special issue on Agroecology for the Transition towards Social-Ecological Sustainability. We just happened to have a draft ready when we heard about the special issue. Carolyn interviewed 25 HM or adaptive grazing trainers across Canada and the US to get a sense of how they see their training, and their trainees. Some interesting findings around gender, what it means to adopt, as well as the separability between the holistic planning and the specific grazing practices.

Next we developed a systems thinking statement concourse, in part using these interviews, and conducted Q-method online with 18 HM trainers and trainees to identify degrees and types of systems thinking. That paper is still in development, but a little teaser: gender again seems to play a role!

Jaya wins BoFEP student award

Jaya Fahey receives the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership meeting student award, May 11, 2018.

Jaya Fahey receives the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership meeting student award, from DFO scientist Blythe Chang, May 11, 2018.

I spent Friday at the 12th Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership meeting, held every two years. This year’s conference featured a theme on dykelands and salt marshes, convened by new collaborators Danika van Proosdij and Tony Bowron. I presented my 2014/2015 Q-method research that identified discourses around dykeland futures, which is getting long in the tooth but is helping to inform my new work in those landforms. The largely natural science audience was quite receptive to social science messages, including my suggestion that their outreach is heavily based on the ‘deficit model’ of environmental communication, which has been proven not to work. I missed MES student Jaya Fahey’s presentation on the Thursday about her work on Space to Roost, but was pleased to hear she won the student award, which included a research volume and certificate as well as a $100 cash prize. I saw some pretty great student presentations, so it was stiff competition. Congratulations, Jaya!

New Orleans in the rear view

The final of 50 parade floats in the Chalmette Irish, Italian and Isleno parade, where they not only throw beads and trinkets, but also vegetables, fruit, and here, toilet paper.

The final of 50 parade floats in the Chalmette Irish, Italian and Isleno parade, where they not only throw beads and trinkets, but also vegetables, fruit, and here, toilet paper.

It has a sprint since getting back from AAG in New Orleans. It was my first time at that epic event, spread across several downtown hotels. I was surprised to actually run into people I knew from other organizations like IASNR and topics like rangelands, ecosystem services and climate adaptation that I didn’t necessarily connect with Geography, including MES alum Paul Sylvestre, now doing a PhD at Queens. Didn’t lay eyes on my Dalhousie colleagues, however, without effort.

Geography is big enough in its traditional form, but it has expanded and become much more problem-based than the Australian Geographer’s Association meeting in 2005 after which I swore off Geography conferences (that one kept human, physical and spatial geographers in never-the-twain separate sessions irregardless of topic). Happily surprised, I attended four or five of the Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation special sessions organized by the Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group, which had many highlights but particularly memorable were Hannah Gosnell’s talk on happiness and regenerative grazing (HM) in Australia, and Neil Adger’s speech after his lifetime achievement award, as well as his former postdoc Don Nelson’s moving tribute. I was pleased with the content if not the crowd size in the two sessions in which I participated, on Recycling Energy Landscapes and (via Mike Smit on our new SSHRC) in Computation for Public Engagement in Complex Problems: From Big Data, to Modeling, to Action.

Phase 3 of a 3-phase demonstration of the value of wetland buffers in protecting cities from storm action in the Cabildo Museum.

Phase 3 of a 3-phase demonstration of the value of wetland buffers in protecting cities from storm action in the Presbytere Museum.

It was grand to be back in New Orleans after 16 years, even through a deluge event with flood warnings. I was lucky to get into my old apartment which was wide open, being gutted for renovation. My old boulangerie is still there (though the fougasse is not as I recall), and the streetcars still charm. The French Quarter Festival was on – all local music – and the best food we found was offered by ex-military cajun Adam Lee out of a small pub kitchen uptown in Prytania Hall. A muffuletta sandwich from the Central Grocery, eaten in the sun in front of Jackson Square listening to a brass band, came second. Nothing else came close. Very cool to see ‘planning for water’ and the importance of wetland buffers highlighted in the Presbytere’s museum installation on Katrina.

Erstwhile Fazendeville, Chalmette Battlefield

Erstwhile Fazendeville, Chalmette Battlefield

On our last day in town we ventured east, Ubering through the Lower 9th Ward (hit hardest by Katrina) onward to Chalmette, which was having its Irish, Italian and Isleno (Canary Islander) parade (see top picture). For some reason lost to time those on floats pelt paradegoers with fruit and vegetables, as well as the usual plastic beads and trinkets. Potatoes, carrots, CABBAGES: I even saw someone holding a pineapple. We killed some time first at the Chalmette Battlefield, where American forces beat off the British in 1814. Alongside the straining levee, the Mississippi running high after the deluge, the cemetery and battlefield were very wet. Crayfish chimneys were all over the wet lawn of the former battlefield. I was saddened as much by the story of Fazendeville as by the earlier loss of life . Quoting from the plaque:

Jean Pierre Fazende, a free man of colour and New Orleans grocer, inherited land within the battlefield in 1857. After the Civil War, he divided it and sold it to freed slaves from local plantations. Eventually the community grew to more than 200 people and became known as Fazendeville. The National Park Service bought the land in 1966 after long, contentious negotiations.

Where did they move to? Mostly the New Orleans 9th Ward, that area so hard hit by Katrina. What a bad joke. The old main street is visible only as a linear depression today, but the plaque says the community still meets. Like the residents of Africville here in Halifax, or former residents of what is now the Gagetown weapons range in New Brunswick, they have reunions and otherwise somehow keep the community alive after being forcibly removed.

Chalmette Battlefield Cemetery, inundated

Chalmette Battlefield Cemetery, inundated

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