Ellen Chappell with me after her successful defense Monday, June 17, 2019.
Congratulations to Ellen Chappell, who was first in her cohort to defend her MES this past Monday: she set a high bar indeed. The defense was well-timed to come after she presented the work at the Energy Research & Social Science conference at the end of May in Tempe, Arizona, and immediately before a Dal-based Clean Tech Research event. Thanks to committee member John Parkins and examiner Heather Braiden for engaging richly in Ellen’s work, despite calling in, and chair Peter Tyedmers and the sizable and engaged audience for managing to make it an event despite having so few committee members present in the flesh.
Ellen’s work explores the connections people have to landscape features that were created for specific uses, even when those uses fade, and what those kinds of connections mean for new landscape additions, specifically wind turbines. She made the first tests of climax thinking in her Chignecto Isthmus case study, and provided some encouraging results. We’ll be expanding on those results next week, when first-year MES Krysta Sutton and I start running our focus groups with coastal residents around Nova Scotia about climate adaptation options.
Canada’s Climate Change Ambassador, Patricia Fuller (Photo @tcadaptations)
I spent most of this week at an excellent workshop organized by TransCoastal Adaptations, a group led by Danika van Proosdij at Saint Mary’s that I’m aligned with via the Making Room for Movement project. Attendees came from across Canada and the US from academe but also government, NGOs, consulting and other practitioners, and instead of most conferences where those fragment across parallel sessions, the entire event was held in plenary style. This led to wonderfully rich conversations around the shared challenges we faced as members or stakeholders of the Cold Regions Living Shorelines Community of Practice. I met engaged folks from West Coast Environmental Law, White Point Lodge, Helping Nature Heal, Nature Conservancy, Kensington North Watersheds Association, Army Corps of Engineers, CBCL Consulting, and the Geological Survey of Canada, to name just a few, and had the rare opportunity to have dinner with Patricia Fuller, Canada’s Climate Change Ambassador.
Many definitions and synonyms of ‘nature-based’ were discussed, and I noted the tendency of the conversation toward ‘holding the line’ naturally rather than changing what we do behind that line, however green and/or fuzzy it is. Danika and I co-led a session on the communication dimensions where I called for empathy around the challenges that people face talking about retreat and other significant adaptations. We also presented our OECD case study, which prompted a discussion about how communication can be unpredictable. One person volunteered that instead of telling citizens what needs to be done, Surrey found it is best to show them the data and let them discover what needs to be done, then they own it. A Clean Foundation program manager talked about how they approached a First Nations community looking for sites to restore to salt marsh, but heard back about values to restore (such as specific plants). The Ecology Action Centre found that attendance at meetings varies dramatically depending on how recently adverse events have been experienced in the location. There is much more work to be done on best practices in this space. We are looking forward to contributing to the conversation after our focus groups in coming months.
Everyone is eager to hear about the coastal protection policy in development.
Fun with flood maps.
Over the past few months I’ve been leading the writing up of a recent dyke realignment and salt marsh restoration project in Truro for an OECD report called Responding to Rising Seas, due out in January 2019. Co-authors are those who designed and implemented the case study from Saint Mary’s University and CB Wetlands and Environmental Services. The Truro case study is one of four cases explored in the report; others are in the UK, Germany and New Zealand. We culminated that case study with an all-day workshop November 21 at SMU on ‘scaling up the insights’ from the Truro case study. Requested by NRCan, funded by Lisa Danielson of the OECD’s Paris office, and hosted by Danika van Proosdij at SMU, we had sessions on policy, financing, engineering and human dimensions. Thirty attendees joined from across all scales of government, NGOs, First Nations and the private sector (as well as a few academics, but that couldn’t be helped). The various conversations and interactions knitted together some previously isolated groups working in parallel, and it felt very much like a day well spent. We hope attendees felt the same way.