Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN12_02b: Urban Natures
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Balint Balazs, ESSRG
Location: BS.3.22
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


Aesthetic Environmentalism: The Play Value of Nature in Urban Gardening Practice

María Florencia Langa

Uppsala University, Sweden

Environmental practices are often understood as sacrifices for the greater good. However, moral valuations of nature through the beauty of wilderness and leisure activities have played a relevant role in conservationism and environmental movements. Drawing from a 3 year study in Sweden, I show that the enjoyment of the sensorial experience of gardening, rather than a sacrifice for the greater good, grounds nature’s intrinsic value for Swedish urban gardeners. Human/nature boundaries are then constructed as being about a feel of nature, more than about levels of human intervention. Growing food is also part of this enjoyment, where not only harvesting but also eating are part of creative play with plants, compost, water and soil. For gardening projects, the game of cultivation creates environmental consciousness through the transformative experience of nature. Moreover, it contributes to the preservation of unpolluted soil, insects, animals, biodiversity and ecosystems. Finally, in the larger picture, gardening preserves the knowledge of urban food production for a future of social and environmental crisis. I argue then that Swedish urban gardeners value nature in their practice as a form of creative play-action, constructing an aesthetic environmentalism.

A City is Not a Park

Des Fitzgerald

Cardiff University, United Kingdom

In 2019, London became the world’s first National Park City, the endpoint of a campaign to re-orient the city as a specifically natural environment – indeed, to turn urban design in London away from ‘industrial sites, houses, roads and rail lines’ and towards ‘a richly woven tapestry… of gardens, rivers, parks, woodland, nature reserves, canals, meadows, woodland, allotments, streams and lakes.” In support, the international “luxury architecture” firm WATG released an image of Fleet Street, showing the north of the iconic street, looking toward St Paul's, with the road and footpath replaced by a highly manicured garden; in the computer-generated scene, couples check their phones on decking surrounded by shrubbery; eighteenth-century buildings are covered in carefully-pruned leaves and vines; a lone cyclist moves silently between the plants.

In this paper, drawing on interviews with designers, architects and psychologists, as well as archival research on the history of urban greening in London, I work through this speculative and imaginary economy of the natural environment in/and the city. In particular, I analyse the images, rhetorics, maps, and scientific devices through which an emergent class of policy makers, designers and intellectual entrepreneur are coming to understand the future of the city as a future in which the artifice of industry and infrastructure is replaced by a lush canopy of animals and trees. And I argue that this development should be situated in a longer strand of strand of twentieth-century city thinking and urban design that understand the built environment of the city through its psycho-emotional effects on human development –a sense that the city must be leavened by a return to greener, more “natural” forms of living.

The relation of Urban Dwellers and Rivers: The Case of Ankara, Turkey

Çigdem Adem

Independent Researcher, Turkey

The world is entering a new urban period where the ecology of the earth is increasingly inclined by human activities (Folke et. al., 2011: 720). Cities are turning into major centres of relationship between people and nature where both constitute as significant centres of demand of ecosystem services and as causes of environmental impacts (Elmqvist et. al, 2013: 719). Urbanisation has been recognised as a cause of loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitats. Improving green infrastructure and restoration of urban rivers is one way that contributes to conservation of urban environment.

Despite all, in the recent decade, there is an increasing recognition of the need to restore and sustainably manage freshwater ecosystems. A rising movement to uncover, deculvert or ‘daylight’ urban rivers prevails, where rivers became flagships within urban environments.

Ankara (Turkey) was developed around rivers but due to severe flooding and rapid urbanization most of the rivers are degraded, covered and the rest are left in neglect. For its inhabitants, however, these milieus have negative and positive connotations such as disaster, flooding, home, livelihood and part of their cultural and environmental histories. In 2013, the Study Group on the Rivers of Ankara was formed with the aim of raising awareness on the rivers of the city and eventually daylighting them.

The research explores the relationship of residents of Ankara with its rivers and with green infrastructure, the change in the approach to and perception of Ankara rivers. The research methods will include semi-structured interviews and surveys. These interviews and surveys will be conducted with the visitors of Lost Rivers of Ankara photo exhibition.

Knowledge co-creation on the urban Food-Water-Energy Nexus

Pia Laborgne1, Wojciech Goszczynski2, Andrea Sarzynski3, Johanna Suchomska4,2, Michał Wròblewski2

1European Institute for Energy Research; 2Nicolaus Copernicus University; 3University of Delaware; 4Pracownia Zrównoważonego Rozwoju

In recent years, a strong increase in research on the food-water-energy nexus can be observed, manifesting in literature as well as in research programmes and projects on European and international level. Still, in literature, the concept often stays quite abstract and there is a co-existence of different understandings and uses (Giampietro 2018) as well as persistence of silo thinking in governance practices.

The project “CreatingInterfaces” (JPI Urban Europe and Belmont Forum 2018-2021, co-financed by the Horizon2020 programme under grant agreement No. 830254) aims at making the FWE-linkages better understandable to the stakeholders (city government, science, business and citizens), and to facilitate cooperation and knowledge exchange among them. It develops and tests innovative approaches for local knowledge co-creation and participation through Urban Living Labs and Citizen Science approaches in three mid-size cities on water: Tulcea (Romania), Wilmington (USA) and Slupsk (Poland).

The paper presents the Urban Living Lab and knowledge co-creation approach and results from a governance analysis, comparing the FWE systems in the three areas, as well as experiences and results from workshops with stakeholders and citizens in Tulcea, Wilmington and Slupsk.

Main questions of the paper are: how are the food-water-energy systems interlinked in urban governance? what data governance models and flows exist in the study areas? how can knowledge co-creation be realized linked to a crucial but rather abstract concept like the FWE nexus? How can knowledge co-creation (citizen science) contribute to scientific knowledge building regarding the urban FWE nexus?