Eco-Cultural Production in a Changing World

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Stockholm Environment Institute

Abstract

We live in an increasingly urbanized world, and one where the evidence indicates that disconnection from 'nature' affects us negatively. The response to overcoming this diconnection has taken two distinct approaches:

- attempts to provide nature for people, and to involve people in planning and consultation approaches to ensure their requirements are met;
- a gradual (and now accelerating) move to community control and/or ownership of land and natural spaces - instigated from the bottom-up by communities themselves.

These twin approaches of 'providing nature' and 'managing nature' are paralleled by the twin assessments of how people are 'enjoying/experiencing/consuming nature' and 'producing nature/ecosystem services'. Much of the work to date has focused on one or other part of this duality. Our vision is to connect these forms of participation in both the consumption and production of nature. To do so, it is essential to take as the starting point the experiences, narratives and creative activities of those participating. These creative activities include participatory art (e.g. woodland sculpture making, music or edible artwork), community festivals (e.g. harvest festivals) and events (e.g. learning heritage skills). Our research focus, then, is on the question 'How do cultural and creative activities help to shape the connections between people, places and production' - we have termed this 'eco-cultural production'.

The aim of this proposal is to build a network that that brings together a partnership of academia and community stakeholders form a range of disciplines and backgrounds to co-produce outputs (including a large grant proposal) that will specify how arts and humanities research and creative activities can be developed to assess and enhance the role of these eco-cultural production activities in providing benefits from nature that bring improvements in wellbeing to people and communities.

The outputs from this network will be a review of the latest literature, including information from the communities themselves. The main aim of the project will be to write a grant application developed and designed to address the questions relevant to the partnership of communities involved in eco-production and academics from the arts and humanities.

Planned Impact

The direct benefits of the proposed research will be achieved through two activities. Firstly, the various workshops will allow interaction and knowledge exchange between community groups and academics from a range of art and humanities disciplines. This two way dialogue will potentially benefit both parties by communicating the interests and needs of communities to academics - and similarly providing communities with current academic information relevant and useful for them. The second direct benefit for the grant will be achieved through the project website and social media. This will dissmeminate the information on project activities and key findings to a wider audience - including community organisations, academics, landowners, policy and decision makers. The issues of eco-cultural production are pertinent to policy development and landuse planning across Europe and North America.

The project focus on the cultural benefits of productive urban settings (including woodlands, city farms, community growing plots) are relevant to a range of groups. The findings could inform moves for increased localism in planning and decision making making them relevant to local planners, national policy makers and communities lobbying for particular schemes or initiatives.

The project ties into the wider policy focus on ecosystem services and the determination of benefits and trade-offs of different landuses. It will provide new insights on the cultural benefits provided by different landscapes and the role of nature in delivering these benefits. Ecosystem services are currently the focus of both national and international interest by academics and decision makers. The project team are well connected to existing initiatives in this area including the National Ecosystem Assessment and the NERC Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Sustainabilty community.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Joint Submission to ESRC Urban Transformations Proposal 
Organisation London Metropolitan University
Department Guildhall Faculty of Business and Law
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint develop of proposal to the Urban Transformations call: PROSE - Public Realm Open Space Evolution Subtitle: Urban Transformations - Evolution of governance and social innovation in Public Realm Open Spaces
Collaborator Contribution Took on the role of Principal Investigator to develop and submit the proposal
Impact Project website (see URL above) with supporting videos outlining the concept of Eco-cultural Production
Start Year 2011
 
Description Joint Submission to ESRC Urban Transformations Proposal 
Organisation University of Abertay Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint develop of proposal to the Urban Transformations call: PROSE - Public Realm Open Space Evolution Subtitle: Urban Transformations - Evolution of governance and social innovation in Public Realm Open Spaces
Collaborator Contribution Took on the role of Principal Investigator to develop and submit the proposal
Impact Project website (see URL above) with supporting videos outlining the concept of Eco-cultural Production
Start Year 2011
 
Description Proposal Co-Design Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact The network was brought together as part of a consortium building exercise in response to funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Connected Communities Programme Research Development Workshop held in May 2012 entitled Communities, Cultures, Environments and Sustainability. The overall aim for the network was to investigate the opportunities around helping communities to respond to the challenges posed by environmental change and ways of moving towards more sustainable living.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL https://www.york.ac.uk/sei/projects/completed-projects/eco-cultural-production/#tab-1