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!
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.
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.
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.
A real pleasure to have collaborators in town this week for meetings on several SSHRC-funded projects. Wednesday and Thursday we’ve been talking about what’s been achieved in the HM/sustainable grazing project 2.5 years in, and what we’ll do from here on in. John Parkins, co-applicant on that grant, has come from the University of Alberta, and Carolyn Mann, RA, from Ottawa. We’ve had collaborators Marney Isaac and Ed Bork skype in from Toronto and Edmonton, respectively. The whiteboard is no longer white, but laden with scrawled insight. Tomorrow we switch gears and talk energy.
Congratulations to Kristine Dahl, MSc candidate on the SSHRC-funded Reconciling HM project, for winning the AltaLink Master’s Scholarship in Rangeland Disturbance Ecology. Kristine is based at the University of Alberta, supervised by project collaborators John Parkins and Ed Bork. She has just had a busy mixed-methods field season interviewing western ranchers about their grazing practices and decision-making as well as undertaking rangeland assessments. Not many people are able to do both well. Glad to have her on the team.