Bringing People Back In: Civic Ecology in Urban Social-Ecological Systems. Keith G. Tidball Civic Ecology Initiative Dept. Of Natural Resources, Cornell University [email protected]
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Bringing People Back In: Civic Ecology in UrbanSocial-Ecological Systems
Keith G. Tidball
Civic Ecology Initiative
Dept. Of Natural Resources, Cornell University
2008 Summer Joint Session of the Northeast Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Directors, and the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching. Washington, DC
Introduction- Urban Challenges
Foundations- Theory and Key Concepts
Civic Ecology Initiative- What is it?
Examples of Civic Ecology Programs
Examples of Civic Ecology Research
Examples of Civic Ecology Teaching
Urbanization & Sustainability are two important and overlapping “systems” that require study urgently and have both societal and ecological implications.
United Nations World Urbanization . www.un.org/.../publications/WUP2005/2005wup.htm
“[Urban] people cannot care about what they have not experienced. Neither will they have much interest in paying the taxes or providing the political support which is necessary to maintain [natural areas like] national parks.”
— JUDY LING WONG
James Watt, US Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan administration, expressed a popular belief when he wrote that the earth is “merely a temporary way station on the road to eternal life … The earth was put here by the Lord for His people to subdue and use for profitable purposes on their way to the hereafter.”
“...humans are part of the landscape, have always been so, and...if managed, do not have to be viewed as destructive agents” Aldo Leopold
“Scientists (and extensionists) are key participants in the struggle to maintain the world’s biodiversity and manage its natural resources... (we) cannot effectively contribute without models that incorporate the activities of our own species.” Collins et al
The Urban Environment Is Complex!
Panarchy diagram courtesy of The Sustainable Scale Project.http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingScale/MeasuringScale/Panarchy.aspx
Resilience theory is an expanding body of ideas that attempts to provide explanations for the source and role of change in adaptive systems, particularly the kinds of change that are transforming.
Resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. R. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig. 2004. Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social–ecological systems. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss2/art5
We combine these notions in our urban Civic Ecology Initiative...which asks: “How might we better understand civic environmentalism, so that we can help foster its positive ecological and social outcomes in cities?”
CivicEcologyis... a Philosophy, a Science, a Practice...
Other Urban Restoration
& Conservation Anthropology
Civic Ecology Education
For civic ecology practices to endure, they must continue to integrate new participants, including young people. Civic ecology education refers to the learning and social and ecological outcomes that occur when young people and other novices become engaged in civic ecology practices.
Research Examples- Resilient Green
Role of Community Forestry in NOLA, 9th Ward Disaster Recovery. 2007
Urban Community Greening: Exploring a Comprehensive Strategy for Building Sustainable Cities 2006
Survey of Urban Community Greening Efforts to Reduce Violence and Conflict in Cape Town, South Africa Townships. 2007
Research Examples- Civic Ecology Education
Urban Environments Course
Cornell, Natural Resources 494/694 “Urban Environments/Alternative Spring Break NYC.” Spring 2008.
Green Cities Course
Cornell, City and Regional Planning 384/584 “Green Cities.” With Elan Shapiro, Fall 2007.
Cayuga Lake Watershed Course
Cornell, Natural Resources 694 “Transdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Challenges: Towards a Report Card for Cayuga Lake. Spring 2008
“Conservationists will be a lot more effective if they take cities and the people who live in them much more seriously. Cities have a bad name in many quarters of the conservation community . . . Conversely, the conservation movement has a bad name among many who work on urban problems . . . The truth is that protecting nature and improving city life are interdependent goals. Conservation and urban leaders are natural allies. The challenge is in making the right connections.”
— TED TRZYNA
"...the weeds in a city lot convey the same lesson as the redwoods."
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
-- Aldo Leopold