Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: What I’m doing (page 1 of 10)

Getting nowhere fast

My new full-time job: physio.

My new full-time job: physio.

In late August I had surgery on my right hip, so I’m off recuperating at the moment. I have another four weeks in a rib-to-knee hip brace, and on crutches, unable to drive. Becalmed here at home, I’m trying to catch up on some long-form reading, and am listening to a lot of podcasts (thank you, Radiotopia), but if you wonder what really fills my days, see left. This lovely Schwinn exercise bicycle is a key part of my new physiotherapy regime, which keeps me surprisingly busy.

Rangeland social science meeting

Lynn Huntsinger and Tracy Hruska at a cafe in Reno, the biggest little city in the world

Lynn Huntsinger and Tracy Hruska at a cafe in Reno, the biggest little city in the world

I am in Sparks, Nevada, at an invited meeting of rangeland social scientists (RSS) organized by Hailey Wilmer and Mark Brunson before the Society for Range Management meeting. I arrived in San Francisco late Friday to visit with Berkeley professor Lynn Huntsinger and her UNevada Geography professor husband Paul Starrs. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the harbour was stunning as the sun set, and Paul’s posole a delight. The next morning Lynn and I transected California’s many landscapes and production systems up across the snowy Sierra Nevada (and the notorious Donner Pass), with two of her Berkeley lab PhD students, Tracy Hruska and Sheila Barry.

DRI research professor Tamara Wall prepares to chair us in our RSS unconference

DRI research professor Tamara Wall prepares to chair us in our RSS unconference

Both Sheila and Tracy have led papers or chapters I really like, so it was the beginning of a day full of happy name recognition. Awaiting us at the lovely Desert Research Institute where the RSS meeting was being held: thirty more people  whose work I have enjoyed and cited since my Australian post-doc. Simply meeting them has made the trip worthwhile, and hearing kind words of appreciation in turn a bonus, particularly for my new commentary on standalone social science in rangelands. The meeting is following an un-conference format, which is new to me, but allowed for a very egalitarian agenda design, and productive discussions in small groups and together. I joined a group on community-building and integration, where those from a mix of career stages discussed the importance of an attractive career script for RSS practitioners, and how this nascent community could help. We’ll pick up some of the threads later today for day two of the un-meeting.

 

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…

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?

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