Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: What I’m doing (page 1 of 9)

Farväl ISSRM 2017

I seem always to run out of steam blogging conferences. In fact, I still have a field trip report from ISSRM 2016 sitting in my drafts folder. So here is a banquet photo to close off ISSRM 2017, of the Canadian table. The meal was great (more fish and more potatoes!) and the Aquavit schnapps shots were … effective.

The Canadian table at the final ISSRM 2017 banquet - predictably closest to the bar.

The Canadian table at the final ISSRM 2017 banquet – predictably closest to the bar.

My sleep deprivation was finally cured after a 6 hour train ride south to Stockholm, where night includes some darkness. The train was full of folks heading home for the Midsommer holiday the next day. Took a boat to Drottningholm the next morning, and visited the UNESCO-listed palace, having exquisite fish soup for lunch at the attached cafe. The commuter boat was packed with Swedes heading out with picnic baskets, extended family, and headdresses of branches and flowers, for celebrations on islands around the archipelago. Even the boats were decorated with boughs.

Midsommer in Stockholm means the people and the boats are decorated with boughs.

Midsommer in Stockholm means the people and the boats are decorated with boughs.

What a privilege to be there on that special day for locals. While many museums were closed for the holiday, it was a joy just walking the streets and bridges of Stockholm. A wonderful trip, but happy to be home.

Home - is that the Musquodoboit River twinkling during descent?

Home – is that the Musquodoboit River twinkling during descent?

Day 2 at ISSRM 2017

Hard to photograph a panel while you're on it: the ears of Stedman, Measham and Jacquet.

Hard to photograph a panel while you’re on it: the ears of Stedman, Measham and Jacquet.

1:30 am again so might as well reflect on another solid day at ISSRM.  A late start for me today thanks to that insomnia. First I had a fun mentoring session over lunch with two up-and-coming  female scholars, one finishing her PhD and one pre-tenure. I love participating in the mentoring program each year at ISSRM and appreciate folks like Paige Fischer organizing it.

Next I headed to an energy transitions panel (above) which was a bit of a follow-on from one I organized last year. This time Tom Measham (CSIRO) organized and chaired, and I served on the panel with Rich Stedman, Jeffrey Jacquet and keynote Neil Adger . It was a great turnout, and resulted in a really rich discussion about myths, subjectivity, governance and equity in the context of energy transitions. Lots of food for thought. We five started consuming that intellectual nourishment in barley form later at the ‘Pipes of Scotland’ bar which four of us closed down at midnight.

A subsection of the Norrbyskar scale model showing cable cars of sawdust heading for value adding.

A subsection of the Norrbyskar scale model showing cable cars of sawdust heading for value adding.

Immediately after the panel it was off to the field trips, mine to Norrbyskär, a fascinating island community that was designed around lumber production in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ruled on principles of temperance, paternalism, and clear social hierarchies, the island was entirely engineered: saw and planing mill joined by raised railways, and lumber drying structures everywhere not taken over by regimented housing and other buildings. Today the houses are occupied by seasonal residents, but the island hosts a great museum and cafe with a delightful scale model (left), and a miniature set of buildings for kids to play in. They had skilled and knowledgeable tour guides, and offered a diverse dinner of traditional swedish fare.

A wonderfully quirky addition was an end-of-year art exhibit by Umea Academy of Fine Arts students in an adjoining room. It was not obvious that the art show was open because of a downed banner at the entry. Turned out that was one of the art pieces: Josefine Ostlund’s We’re Building Natural Habitat (material description: “Banner from construction site”). Students visited in May and describe that they felt ‘watched’ by the empty houses, so reflect on the place in terms of “power, architecture and dreams”. It was wonderfully uncommercial work. Neil Adger’s favourite was Suffering is optional, by Linnea Johnels, material description “Beds, gun holes”, which she describes as “working with the frustration and worry that forces itself on you at night”. I can relate. Godnatt.

Neil Adger with Linnea Johnels 2017 piece, Suffering is optional.

Neil Adger with Linnea Johnels 2017 piece, Suffering is optional.

 

Day 1 at ISSRM 2017

Sunrise at 2:15 am, midsommer in north Sweden.

Sunrise at 2:15 am, midsommer in north Sweden.

It’s 2:30 am in Umea, Sweden, and I’m still awake. Why? Because I know this is happening (above). Outside my window the three hour twilight that passes for night this time of the year at almost 64 degrees north has surrendered again to the sun. And my body knows it and wants me up, damn the blackout curtains. So it seems a reasonable opportunity for a day 1 recap here at ISSRM.

The organizers were kind to arrange a 10 am start, which launched with a keynote by Neil Adger. He explored how population challenges our capacity to cope with climate, and not in the “boring” ways like how many people there are. He looked at lifecourse, migration and place, synthesizing across many studies. A memorable line that echoes much of my thinking right now: “identity trumps risk”.

After lunch came a two-part session on Enhancing Private Land Stewardship that I organized with Mike Sorice, of Virginia Tech, though he couldn’t make it to the conference this year. A diverse mix of perspectives on how to understand and influence farmers motivations to engage in conservation. I presented our survey work on Wood Turtle Strides, standing in for Mhari and Simon.

Stefano Targetti checks out the cool traditional fences at Gammli museum.

Stefano Targetti checks out the cool traditional fences at Gammli museum.

The poster sessions were inventively placed in one of those ‘living’ historical museums, the Gammlia, where they kept some buildings open for us and brought in a few reindeer. Seemed cruel to eat reindeer soup while hanging out with reindeer, but so we did, and it was delicious. The fences were particularly novel (right); to avoid weak spots at joins, eliminate joins. Some great posters among those I saw, my favourite being one on an interesting photo survey about urban wetlands by Tanja Straka at the University of Melbourne.

We finished up with a late beer and meal with some of the Canadian contingent at the Bishop’s Arms pub. Tomorrow night…  that is, tonight, I’ll cower inside like a vampire and try to fool myself that it’s dark outside.

Some of the Canadian contingent at ISSRM 2017, about 10:30 pm near midsommer.

Some of the Canadian contingent at ISSRM 2017, about 10:30 pm near midsommer.

Earth Day contrast

Elementary school kids at J. W. MacLeod, Halifax, laugh, hoot and awwww watching an environmental video for Earth Day 2017.

Elementary school kids in Halifax laugh, hoot and awwww watching an environmental video for Earth Day 2017.

I just got back from an Earth Day assembly at my daughter’s school (what in kindergarten she called a ‘dissembly’). It was certainly chaotic, but amidst that there was great beauty, and I teared up a few times. These kids get it. It is simple for them. Of course we know it is more complicated than they think: littering and taking shorter showers won’t keep us thriving here. But the kids are passionate, and I think they believe that we adults are firmly ‘on the job’. If only that were so. I think we’re doing an awful lot of things that they would find dreary and uninspiring at best, and frankly scary and unfair at worst. Anyone making big decisions, for instance undergoing a Faculty level strategic renewal, should imagine having to pitch their plan to these kids.

Berkeley bootcamp over

One conventional photo, and one with side looking Lidar, of bootcamp participants in front of Mulford Hall, UC Berkeley.

One conventional photo, and one with side looking Lidar, of bootcamp participants in front of Mulford Hall, UC Berkeley.

Amid mixed funding news today (one SSHRC Insight Grant funded, one not; one Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship awarded, one not), the Spatial Science bootcamp adjourned with a day of data visualization and web mapping. A blinding array of options and inspiring examples were presented by members of the GIF and iGIS. Clear to see that a conventional Geography degree will not prepare you for this kind of work: programming is critical. We also learned about the risks of using open source, as the software Carto changed versions 15 minutes before class started, leaving all the instructions moot. I wound up with good ideas for my fall Special Topics course, and a wider understanding of what is happening behind the scenes of web mapping services. Special thanks to Shruti for helping me hack the new Canadian Geographic hydroelectricity webmap for GeoJSON files of infrastructure.

At the end of the day, several of us Ubered to the ‘Albany Bulb‘, a former landfill site and homeless encampment, and current dog park, ad hoc gallery of garbage art and graffiti, viewpoint for great sunsets, and general ‘scene’. Afterward we had what seemed like a quintessentially (and comically) Californian time at restaurants Ippuku, a Japanese small plates restaurant, as well as the diner we stumbled into (oblivious that it was vegan) to fill up afterward. How did they made apple pie pastry that flaky without butter?

Looking from the Albany 'Bulb' across to San Francisco (photo: Scott Hatcher).

Looking from the Albany ‘Bulb’ across to San Francisco (photo: Scott Hatcher).

Older posts

© 2017 Kate Sherren

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑