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Bringing People Back In: Civic Ecology in Urban Social-Ecological Systems

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  1. Bringing People Back In: Civic Ecology in UrbanSocial-Ecological Systems Keith G. Tidball Civic Ecology Initiative Dept. Of Natural Resources, Cornell University kgtidball@cornell.edu 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

  2. 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 Conclusions

  3. An Urban challenge? 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

  4. 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 Humans: In or Out?

  5. The Urban Environment Is Complex! See: http://resilientgreen.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/a-new-map/

  6. System Dynamicsentails making three fundamental shifts of mind relative to our traditional way of thinking. • From linear, laundry list thinking to a circular, closed-loop view of causality. • 2. A shift from an external to an internal focus on performance, how we, not others, are responsible for most of the results we get. • 3. A focus on an operational view of how things actually work. This is in contrast to traditional analysis methods based on statistical correlation of trends from the past.

  7. Resilience 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

  8. 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?”

  9. CivicEcologyis... a Philosophy, a Science, a Practice... Community Gardening Values Urban Ecology Community Forestry Resilience Theory Ethics Watershed restoration Biophilia Human Dimensions Civic Agriculture Benefits of nature exposure Land Ethic Other Urban Restoration Ecological/Environmental & Conservation Anthropology

  10. 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.

  11. Program Examples

  12. 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

  13. Research Examples- Civic Ecology Education

  14. Teaching examples 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

  15. In Conclusion... “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

  16. "...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 Thank you!

  17. References • Collins, J. et al. 2000. A New Urban Ecology. American Scientist. Vol. 88, No. 5. • Flader, S. L. & Callicott, J. B., eds. (1991). The River of the Mother God and other essays by Aldo Leopold. Madison WI: Univ. WI Press. • United Nations World Urbanization . www.un.org/.../publications/WUP2005/2005wup.htm • 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/ • Watt,J. “Ours is the Earth,” Saturday Evening Post, January/February 1982, pp. 74‐75.