Re-thinking, and re-connecting, communities with, and through, water issues. Situated (place-time), and therapeutic narratives.

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Countryside and Community Research Inst

Abstract

This project will conduct a review of a range of work which has taken place in recent years in arts and humanities and related subjects into how communities in the UK, and beyond, are affected by, and cope with, issues such as flooding and related questions of water security. The research seeks to explore how "community" has been envisaged in that work, and what insights thinking about communities and flooding and related water issues can bring to other approaches to communities, and how other theories and approaches to community can feed back into work on water and other environmental issues. Communities are seen as complex and contested formations, which do not simply or easily correspond to notions of place and settlement. But the research aims to explore how physical location, and environmental processes and hazards such as floods can have impacts on populations who share locations and neighbourhoods. What lessons can be leanrt from this?

There have been a series of very significant floods in the UK (e.g. Boscastle 2004; Carlisle 2005; Gloucestershire and Hull 2007; Cumbria 2009 ) which have clearly had dramatic and long lasting impacts on affected communities which include economic impacts, health and well being impacts, and also how the community sees itself and how it is embedded in the landscape and in wider society. The government response to the challenge of planning for flood risk management, as in the Pitt Review (2008), focuses very much on community preparedness, and developing community resilience as part of a wider range of measures in developing flood risk response. Climate change scenarios, which include possible sea level rise and more extreme rainfall events, coupled with pressure to build new homes, means that questions of how communities live with the risk of flooding (and other water issues) will remain high on the political and academic agenda. Alongside flooding there are also other important concerns about water security issues at the community level which include drought (as in Eastern England 2011) and how water catchment areas are effectively managed for assets such as biodiversity and ecosystem services.

All these approaches to communities and water issues raise a host of questions about what communities are, how they 'work' (or don't work), the extent to which a locational issue such as flooding creates community in a local population who, in other senses, might not function as a cohesive community. Thinking about community through water issues asks questions about how they are connected internally and externally (e.g. to other communities which share a river catchment area).

The research will develop ideas of "situated narratives": how communities develop stories of their collective environmental past, present and future in landscape. These changes can be about community relations with environmental issues such as water security and also about changes in how the community itself works and how it is connected to other communities. This kind of work can be supported by local agencies and institutions (e.g. local museums) and also through social media networks.

The research will also develop ideas of "therapeutic narratives": - how arts and humanities based research and practice (e.g. creative writing, photography, oral history) can help communities come to terms not only with challenging water issues and experiences, such as flooding, but also begin to develop new insights and empathies into relationships within their community and with neighbouring communities.

Planned Impact

The focus on crosscutting understandings of communities in general and how various disciplines and initiatives have considered communities and water issues (and other environmental issues) will have impact for the following stakeholders:

Those seeking to develop community well being and the effectiveness of public services and policy, and enhancing quality of life, health and creative output in relation to communities.

Private sector beneficiaries will include stakeholder organisations with interest in economic aspects of resilience particularly insurance companies and their representative bodies.

public sector beneficiaries, policy-makers, government and government agencies will include a range of governmental and ngo agencies with interests in community well-being and resilience and also in various aspects of sustainable environmental management, including those charged with climate change scenario planning

third sector agencies will include museums and other organisations which might have a role in developing and disseminating community narratives

the emphasis on therapeutic narratives will be of interest to a range of actors who might seek to work with communities, including artists, and third sector agencies involved in 'big society' type infinitives

communities themselves, and community organisations and representative bodies

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/J012181/1 14/02/2012 30/07/2012 £20,625
AH/J012181/2 Transfer AH/J012181/1 31/07/2012 30/08/2012 £9,326
 
Title Animated Film - Eel Ecologies 
Description The Bristol Project team have run a series of workshops in a Bristol primary school with animation artist Lucy Izzard and staff from the Sustainable Eel group, to discuss eel ecology. An animated film is being produced using transcripts of children's comments and children's images. This film will be shown at Bristol Festival of Nature, Sustainable Eel group meeting - London and elsewhere 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Raising awareness of eel ecology and related water catchment management issues in the school. Raising awareness of the potential of arts based method for the environmental group Sustainable Eel Group 
URL https://vimeo.com/184345553
 
Title Too Much of Water 
Description Too Much of Water is a one-man performance written and performed by Professor Steve Bottoms (Manchester University). It uses data gathered from interviews with flood victims, and other sources to recount the River Aire - Leeds floods on Boxing Day 2015. It creates a narrative around the experiences of 5 residents, before during and after the flood. It is performed live using a simple set and props. It has been performed at a number of settings including the Saltaire River Festival 2016. It has also been filmed in Bath Spa University TV studios and will be released in 2017 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Agencies with reposibility for flood resillience (Environment Agency) are are aware of this output and have supported its producted and requested to view it 
 
Title Too Much of Water - Film 
Description This is a film version of the one man play Too Much of Water created in Bath Spa University TV studios and will be released in 2017. Too Much of Water is a one-man performance written and performed by Professor Steve Bottoms (Manchester University). It uses data gathered from interviews with flood victims, and other sources to recount the River Aire - Leeds floods on Boxing Day 2015. It creates a narrative around the experiences of 5 residents, before during and after the flood. It is performed live using a simple set and props. It has been performed at a number of settings including the Saltaire River Festival 2016. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact TBC 
 
Description • There is a need for - and growing trend of - considering communities in ways which recognise their embeddedness in landscapes/places which are formed of ecological communities, material actors, processes and agencies.
• Re-envisioning communities in this way asks a series of questions about the connectivities, disconnectivities and conflicts within and between communities be they topographically (place) based and/or topologically (networked, interest) based.
• Flooding (and other 'single issue' foci in sustainability/resilience/transition studies) should be considered with other interdependent socio-ecological issues.
• Flooding, when seen in wider/alternative cultural and ecological frameworks, can be seen in more positively as a process with cultural, ecological and economic benefits if planned for appropriately.
• Arts and humanities (a&h) led methods can play key roles in multiple 'negotiations' within and between community, science, policy, and biophysical processes.
• Narrative based approaches are emerging to address a range of eco-social conflicts and challenges facing communities and governance delivered policy.
• Further development of situated, therapeutic and digital narratives offer considerable potential in extending the above.
Exploitation Route This scoping studied contributed to the development of the Connected Communites Environments and Sustainability Large Grant. "Towards hydrocitizenship. Connecting communities with and through responses to interdependent, multiple water issues"
Sectors Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.hydrocitizenship.com/
 
Description Hydrocitizenship on-line community to be used as a model for a new international network on permaculture/forest gardens
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact On seeing a presentation about the Hydrocitizenship project a researcher from the Open University is to use the Hydrocitizenship on-line community model for a new research network From an email "I was really inspired by your talk on Friday . I've spent some time exploring the hydrocitizens hub - what a brilliant platform! So, I was wondering whether you could put me in contact with the people that have designed the website? I'm part of an international permaculture/forest garden network and we are currently investigating setting up an online tool and it would be great to have something very similar to hydrocitizens.com."
 
Description Hydrocitizenship project principles taken up by Wye Valley AONB 2016 and 2018 Festivals
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Key principles developed in the 'Towards Hydrocitizenship' project were taken up by the Wye River Festival 2016. This is a large 2 week event which is a major element of the Wye Valley AONB's strategy for public engagement and awareness raising. The festival focused on multiple water issues and Professor Jones acted as a academic advisor in the development process of the festival and wrote a short essay for the festival programme - a free booklet - 15,000 copies distributed. Professor Jones is also advising on the development of the 2018 Festival (they are biennial) From the 2017 Festival evaluation "WVRF2016 encompassed 28 events, at 28 venues on sites from Hereford to Chepstow. We exceeded all our targets: Achieving 29,800+people attending events. 1,200 school children were involved in our workshop programme. In addition 1,098 children had Wye Serai school visits with the Ensemble for half a day each. 539 young people worked with artists to create the flags which decorated the Festival sites. A further 300+ People participated in community training/workshops. 1000 origami birds were made by over200local people from a variety of community groups which were used in one of the installations. A whole community, young and old contributed to the other installation. 328 people took part in the walking/story project. 220+ local singers, musicians and performers were involved in the performances 250+torchbearers were involved in the Llandogo procession with a further 50 volunteer torchbearers involved throughout the Festival. In all 18 local youth theatre groups, choirs and bands took part in the performances. 20 students form University of South Wales were involved with the project 15 of which went on to produce performances for the Festival as part of their degree assessments."
URL http://www.wyevalleyaonb.org.uk/images/uploads/general/WVRF_2016_Evaluation_and_Reflection_Report_FI...
 
Description Professor Jones Invited by RSPB and National Trust to present evidence on using arts based methods for a proposed large coastal heritage project.
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact PI Professor Jones was invited by a joint team of the RSPB and National Trust to advise on arts based methods for a new large project they are planning on coastal heritage conservation and working with communities.
 
Description Team members of Deptford Creek Living Histories project London attend a Hydrocitizenship project event and seek advice and further contact
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description AHRC Connected Communities 'Community Futures & Utopia' Festival 2016
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description AHRC Connected Communities Festival 2015
Amount £7,800 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 06/2015
 
Description AHRC Research Network Grant
Amount £37,733 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/N005767/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2017
 
Description Connected Communities Festival in 2015: Hydrocitizens and Power and the Water Projects
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2015 
End 06/2015
 
Description FrANC Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Bristol case study team worked the community group Friends of Avon New Cut (FrANC) to help organise a 10 year celebration - which was part of a Heritage Lottery Funded programme of events for this group that works to care for and raise awareness of a stretch of Bristol's river Avon . The project team co-devised the programme of the day. We arranged displays of information; street events; street art; kids's making; music and film. Some of these being provided by another project partner - my future my choice. The event was reasonably well attended and we got very positive feedback from FrANC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/129343245@N07/albums/72157672628810543
 
Description Hydrocitizenship project input into Wye River Festival 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact AHRC Hydrocitizenship PI Professor Owain Jones was an academic advisor to the Wye River Festival 2016. This is a large 2 week event co-ordinate by the Wye Valley AONB who use it to help deliver their environmental and social objectives through arts based events. The festival and the Hydrocitizenship project share some creative partners. (Desperate Men Theatre). Professor Jones attended the theme development workshops of the festival, and thus some of the key project messages about communities living with water were taken up for the festival. Professor Jones wrote an essay for the Festival programme. (free - 15,000 copies produced). Bath Spa University also helped the festival with the loan of some equipment and Professor Jones attended some of the specific festival art events. A url to the programme is below. A summary film of the festival can be seen here https://vimeo.com/170193570.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2016
URL http://www.wyevalleyaonb.org.uk/images/uploads/general/Wye_Valley_River_Festival_Programme_mres.pdf
 
Description Owain Jones Twitter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Owain Jones Twitterhttps://twitter.com/owainontwit

TWEETS
947
FOLLOWING
580
FOLLOWERS
678
LIKES
403
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
URL https://twitter.com/owainontwit
 
Description Public Event: Book Launch of Cinderella River: The Evolving Story of the River Lee; By Simon Read; 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The launch took place in the Turbine Room of the Walthamstow Wetlands Centre. 25th February 2018. It was photographed by Professor Owain Jones there are pictures of the Centre and surrounding landscape too. The celebrated landscape writer Ken Worpole gave a talk as part of the event, as did Professor Owain Jones and artist Iain Biggs. Approx 40 people attended for 2 hours, hearing talks and discussion afterwards. Approx 10 of the books were sold. Others given to guests/project team members. Members of other water focused project teams (Deptford Creole Living Histories) attended and promised to follow up.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.leevalley.org/documents-and-outputs.html
 
Description Tidal Cultures Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This is a blog about Tidal Cultures. It was started for an NWO-AHRC grant. It is now being used for the tidal elements of the Hydrocitizenship Bristol Case Study. Views: 4252 in 2014; 6542 in 2016; 2179 views Jan Feb 2017. 22 Followers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2014,2015,2016
URL https://tidalcultures.wordpress.com/
 
Description Tidal Cultures Twitter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Tidal Cultures Twitter Account. This was started as for an NWO-AHRC project. It is now used for the tidal elements of the Towards Hydrocitizenship Project

Tweets 799
Following 618
Followers 549
Likes 442
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2016
URL https://twitter.com/TidalCultures
 
Description Tidal Festival; Shirehampton; Bristol 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Bristol Case Study team co-created a Tidal Festival with a local community group and environment group Friends of Lamplighters Marsh. The event involved a series of arts based activities, film, model boats (fireworks), poetry, music, performance, guided walk, print making, performative installation. Held in a key tidal location in Bristol, is was stage between low tide and high tide. A local pub hosted the fil and the music and put on a special tidal festival menu.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.watercitybristol.org/blog/tidal-festival-lamplighters-marsh-15-oct-2016