Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: human modification (page 2 of 4)

Dam houseboat tour paper out

The Mactaquac houseboat flow-cus (floatus?) group team in August 2013: Beckley, Sherren, Keilty, Demerchant, Mittelholtz, Gutierrez Hermelo and Marmura (clockwise from top left).

The Mactaquac houseboat group team in August 2013 (clockwise from top left): Beckley, Sherren, Keilty (researchers), Demerchant (boat pilot), Mittelholtz, Gutierrez Hermelo and Marmura (videographers).

Back in August 2013, we ran three houseboat tours of the Mactaquac headpond, to elicit locals’ perspectives on the landscape and what they would like to see for its future. A paper about that work, Learning (or living) to love the landscapes of hydroelectricity in Canada: Eliciting local perspectives on the Mactaquac Dam via headpond boat tours, is now out in Energy Research and Social Science (free for 50 days at this link). This was a novel research approach that presented undeniable technical challenges, but generated rich stories of the place and their connection to it, some of which were produced into a short documentary, Mactaquac Revisited.

Despite the trauma that accompanied the construction of the dam in the late 1960s, the local population has demonstrably adapted and come to cherish the new landscape: the need to rebuild the dam, with power or not, was almost unanimously expressed in the focus group elements. In the landscape elicitation, however, done alone or in smaller groups, many people expressed a nostalgia for the old river, and even occasionally an openness to seeing it returned to that state. In fact, it was the misinformation and fear we heard on the boats about what the removal option entailed that inspired our storymap, Before the Mactaquac Dam. This paper shows (again) the adaptability of people to drastic landscape change such as caused by hydroelectricity, where some amenity can be found. The implications of this for proponents of hydroelectricity (and other large-scale energy) schemes is more fraught: “You’ll get used to it” is clearly an inadequate response to stakeholder concerns, yet clearly it is sometimes true.

Waterland

The cover of my copy of Waterland, picked up by someone who knows me well at a secondhand book sale.

The cover of my copy of Waterland, picked up by someone who knows me well at a secondhand book sale.

I recently re-read Waterland, by Graham Swift, which won the Booker Prize in 1983. It’s a remarkable combination of fenland geography, biographical mythology, environmental/industrial history, and thriller. I think you may need to be into wetlands to get through some of his passages, and certainly be comfortable with a fragmented temporal axis, but it is my kind of storytelling. It is funny – there’s this wonderful bit where he discusses how flat landscapes like the fenlands encourage lustiness – and the main characters are solid. As with much of what I record here, I also see parallels between my recreational reading and my research. This is a book about place, cultural landscapes, and adaptation. In the wake of my more recent research on dykelands, for instance, a late passage seemed particularly interesting upon this second read:

There’s this thing called progress. But it doesn’t progress. It doesn’t go anywhere. Because as progress progresses the world can slip away. It’s progress if you can stop the world slipping away. My humble model for progress is the reclamation of land. Which is repeatedly, never-endingly retrieving what is lost. A dogged and vigilant business. A dull yet valuable business. A hard, inglorious business. But you shouldn’t go mistaking the reclamation of land for the building of empires. (p. 291)

 

Storymap coverage by NiCHE

Larissa Holman's NiCHE piece on our storymap Before the Mactaquac Dam.

Larissa Holman’s NiCHE piece on our storymap Before the Mactaquac Dam.

I was pleased this week to learn that Dalhousie MREM graduate Larissa Holman, who was a summer intern with the Energy Transitions in Canada project, has a piece about her Mactaquac storymap in an online publication by NiCHE (Network in Canadian History and Environment). The article, Does This Dam Have a Future?, recounts the process of creating the storymap and the role that it was designed to play in the ongoing public consultation process around the New Brunswick dam’s future.

New paper on dykeland futures

Graphical abstract for a new paper in Land Use Policy on dykeland futures in Nova Scotia.

Graphical abstract for a new paper in Land Use Policy on dykeland futures in Nova Scotia.

Pleased to have a new paper out in Land Use Policy with former MREM intern Logan Loik on how Nova Scotians perceive agricultural dykelands in the face of climate change. Bay of Fundy dykelands are Canada’s only UNESCO-listed agricultural landscapes because of their origins in the 1600s with French settlers.  These structures protect little active farmland today, but governance is still in the hands of the farming sector. They are more often used for recreation, or to protect residential, commercial or transportation infrastructure. Climate projections suggest considerable effort and expense will be required to raise all dykes to the levels necessary to withstand sea level rise and storm surges, but it may be that decommissioning some dykes and restoring coastal wetlands may be more resilient. We asked 183 Nova Scotians to sort statements about dykelands, wetlands and coastal governance. The dominant discourse from this Q-method study was supportive of maintaining dykelands for recreational, cultural and flood protection reasons; the next most prevalent was pragmatically supportive of wetland restoration for efficiency purposes. Results suggest challenges for the process of managed realignment, as well as climate adaptation in cultural landscapes more generally, but also some new analytical opportunities for large-n Q-method research.

Mactaquac public sessions begin

As CTV put it, “it’s the generation decision of a generation.” This week and next, there are five public sessions being held about the Mactaquac decision, in the region of the headpond. Information stations are manned by NB Power officials and a small army of young people hired to engage with attendees. Some of this information provision is two-way, with butcher’s paper available for people to record their concerns or values. I am still waiting to hear how such data, and that collected through their online survey , will be analyzed, reported upon and considered in the final decision.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 Kate Sherren

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑