The RECOMS project is training fifteen Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in developing more just, inclusive and community-based approaches to enhancing and transforming the sustainability of local environments and resources. Find bellow descritions of the ESRs individual projects and links to the data they have collected, at the 3-year benchmark of RECOMS. The data illustrates how the project works closely with people in both urban and rural communities, specializing in the use of inclusive research methods for creative collaboration.
|Name of Early Career Researcher
|Brief Project Description
|Metadata Files and Open Data Repository Links
|Sergio Ruiz Cayuela
|Transforming urban environments: a collaborative approach
|In this project, I am devising strategies for the emancipatory urban commons to expand that bridge materiality and subjectivity. Regarding materiality, I explore the ways in which urban communities can reclaim resources and increase their autonomy by creating networks of interconneted commons. When dealing with subjectivities I look at the tools used by social movements in order to challenge neoliberal narratives and normalise commoning practices based on cooperation, solidarity and direct democracy. I argue that the commons can only expand and become a viable and sustainable alternative to capital if both dimensions (materiality and subjectivity) are simultaneously addressed. I follow a militant research approach in which I position myself as a commoner, and my intellectual work aims to offer perspectives that can be useful for communities aiming to reclaim the commons. My research is based in my engagement in the mutual aid network Cooperation Birmingham and the consumer’s cooperative El Garrofer among other organisations
|Urban Sociology, Local Communities, Social Justice
|Urban agroecology for health & wellbeing
|The goal of agroecological practices is to change the normal and often un-resourceful, day- to-day functioning of urban life, through promoting healthy diets and encouraging knowledge exchange among different ethnicities and generations and at the same time respecting biodiversity. The target group of this study was mothers with young children, a stage in life that induces reflections on the link between health and food. In order to, explore how can we engage and facilitate the understating of mothers about urban agroecology and its relation to human health? Mothers were involved in various activities, ranging from learning how to grow plants at home agroecologically, to learning about their health benefits and producing some food/health products with these plants via action-learning workshops. Also interviews were carried out with mothers who are already engaged in such practices aiming to explore how urban agroecology contribute to reshaping people's relations with food? And how transformative life moments (motherhood) play a role in that?
|Agroecology, Health, Mothers
|Sofía de la Rosa Solano
|Co-creating urban waterways as socially diverse spaces of resourceful community practice
|This project studies urban waterways in post-industrial cities, through an environmental history and political ecology lens. The purpose is to understand the role of urban waterways in affecting societal relationships with water. In exploring different stakeholder conceptions and practices the study focuses on urban waterways and their development since the 1950s. By doing so, it is possible to recognise their potential to be socially diverse spaces of resourceful community practice. Urban waterways will be studied in two selected cases, one in England and the other in the Netherlands.
History, Oral history, European history, Modern history, Environment, Landscape, Natural heritage, Rivers, Canals, Urban Environment, Surface water, Resilience, Water resources, Water infrastructure, Communities, Foods, Urban development
|Building coalitions: Socio-spatial planning as transition management, mediation and entrepreneurship
|This research project is concerned with the transformational impact created by experimental civic initiatives working within the context of the post-industrial city. Vacant and underused spaces in these urban areas are defined as ‘edgelands’ and the analysis seeks to unpack why some of these locations provide fruitful hotspots for experimental civic activities to emerge. Using a sociological institutional lens, the research seeks to explore how such activities use construction practices to redefine dominant institutions of the city and, in so doing, communicate new spatial paradigms. Through physical adaptation of the space, it is argued that such groups generate new meanings for the edgeland site that may further influence the development trajectory of the city at large. In light of complexity theories of self-organisation, it further explores the mechanisms by which these activities may affect dominant, cultural institutions across the broader urban area through the generation of symbolic markers. The project will develop methods around the ‘deep mapping’ approach to layer observations of the physical manifestations of space appropriation together with pluralities of applied meaning and temporal change.
|Urban spaces, Urban areas, Urban renewal, Vacant land, Communities, Community action, Edgelands, Spatial appropriation, DIY urbanism, Guerrilla urbanism, Tactical urbanism, Deep mapping, Arts methods, Post-industrial, DeindustrialisationIndustrial ruins
|Environmental psychology: Perceptions of risk and adaptive community strategies
|In the last decade, governments at local, national and global scales have enthusiastically proposed policies in support of stronger communities, often under the banner of community resilience. These policy proposals often request communities to participate more in civil society, through taking greater responsibility for their own local environment with the desired result of a more resilient community. However, authentic, bottom-up community resilience strategies have often proven elusive for policy makers that are pre-disposed to top-down, instrumental, more easily measurable strategies. This research takes a critical stance on normative community resilience discourse and suggests an alternative “representative resilience” whereby having a stake in the future land of the community is necessary for resilience policy to be authentic and successful. The research does this by investigating the influence of local, cultural land resilience projects and the power relations that are inhibiting or facilitating resilience. A major determinant of a resilient community is to what extent a community is motivated to take actions that result in a more resilient future of their place. Therefore, this research investigates whether local land resilience projects motivate communities to secure land (e.g. land ownership) and/or democratic representation over land (e.g. creation of civil groups, increased influence in democratic decision making). The research does this by analysing the different spaces where power is held and how not only responsibility is devolved through resilience policy but also how power over decisions to the future of land can be devolved, resulting in more authentic, representative resilient communities.
Community resilience, Natural resources, Culture, Citizen participation, Local democracy, Representation
|Tending Seeds of Civic Activity
|This research examines how citizens attempt to enact food democracy and common governance. By establishing a dialogue with ‘on the ground’ civic action and struggles in Germany and the Netherlands, I attempt to determine how and to what extent citizens are able to ‘think and act differently’ and transform democratic food governance towards sustainability and justice. This dialogue is methodologically rooted in an action research approach to critically analysing policy and public affairs. This approach means that, as much as possible, research is conducted together in cooperation with and for civically-active citizens seeking to create sustainable and just food systems. Methods used include document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation.
Political institutions, Political systems, Democracy, Political action, Agricultural policy, Citizen participation, Citizenship, Civic education
|Maria Alina Radulescu
|Climate adaptation through socio-spatial planning of waterways
|In recent decades, stakeholder engagement had been gaining momentum in planning practice. More recently, at the heart of the discussions about collaborative endeavours stand the concepts of Living Labs and co-creation, which have been ‘borrowed’ from the business domain because they hold the promise of fostering new and innovative solutions for highly complex challenges. However, LL and co-creation pose major challenges in terms of their operationalization; therefore, the aim of this research project is to get insights into the practicalities of their application in the (infrastructure) planning field. The study look at conditions for co-creation, at the design of the process and at the dynamic of the cross-level and cross-sectoral interactions of the various actors involved. To this end, the project focuses on three (infrastructure) planning projects from the Netherlands.
|Planning, Development planning, Water infrastructure Environmental planning, Innovation, Cooperation Participation, Citizen participation
|Nature-based culture as an asset in vulnerable communities
|The study identifies and explores links between place attachment, epistemic connections to a place, trust and epistemic recognition among the inhabitants in the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago (Sweden/Finland). It presents and creates a scale to measure epistemic bonds bridging between knowledge about a place and place attachment of individuals. In the data base, there is data on inhabitants’ activities on the site, their opinion about management options, place attachment and their landscape values.
|Sustainability, Natural resources, Place attachment,
Environmental management, Epistemic recognition, Trust
Socio-economic analysis, Social policy, Human ecology, Economic and social development, Ecological economics, Governance, Human-environment interactions, Long-term funding, Landscape ownership
|Community resourcefulness in environmentally vulnerable communities: Green economies and ecosystem services
|In Europe there are areas with substantial green infrastructure and resources, but few people. As well as being sparsely populated, these areas are also often difficult to access. This project explores the ways in which communities within such spaces address the interdependence and coevolution of green and blue economies and ecosystem services through enterprising forms of collaborative and resourceful practice. Special attention is paid to the actions and learning that take place in the multi-layered networks of citizens, their associations, private and public sector organisations and political decision makers. This includes their identification of ways to safeguard the resilience of these places whilst simultaneously also utilizing the green and blue assets for local and wider societal returns. The research investigates economic mechanisms which support community-led environmental action, especially social investment.
|Socio-economic analysis, Social policy, Human ecology, Economic and social development, Ecological economics, Governance, Human-environment interactions, Long-term funding, Landscape ownership
|Transforming the Bavarian Forest: Eco-social crises, community resilience and sustainability in historical perspective
|The aim of this project is to analyse the changing conceptions of nature and wilderness through promotional photography of the Bavarian Forest National Park. It tries to understand the relationship between depictions and ecological practices: how imagery informed understanding and performance of nature conservation? For a place that from the onset carried a role of a tourist magnet, the BFNP must have implemented all possible media to make sure that people came—and they sure did. The visual, unlike, for instance, written reports or scientific declarations, has a power of immediacy: people are visual creatures, and as such we comprehend a sight faster than we would a written word. Promoting or accustoming wider audiences to the presence of a national park must have required an arsenal of powerful imagery. I am interested to try to see the overt stories and try to interpret the underlying ambitions of national park visuals in order to understand how they have informed conservation strategies and overall perceptions of wilderness, wildlife, and the possibility of its existence alongside humanity’s incessant expansionism.
Environmental History, Forests, National Parks, Landscape, Oral history, Photography, Tourism, Wildlife management
|Community transformation and ecological restoration In Portland, Oregon and Munich, Bavaria
|This study attempts to compare the sustainability initiatives and practices of Munich, (Germany), and Portland, Oregon (USA) since the 1970s. Munich calls itself a “green city” and is striving to be “climate-neutral” before 2050. Portland, Oregon, once a highly industrialized and polluted city, is today celebrated as the “most sustainable” city in the U.S. Portland was the first city to ban plastic, the first to tear down an urban highway, the first to develop an overarching energy and climate change policy, and it has the highest number in the U.S. of a working population that commutes by bike or carpool. The comparison of two cities of similar size in historical perspective (in the U.S. and Germany) will analyse regional planning histories, environmental awareness initiatives, and community life.
Bicycle-friendly, Cycling cultures, Cycling history, Sustainable mobility, Transportation planning
|Kei Yan Leung
|A relational understanding of farm businesses as coupled social-ecological systems
|Using the case of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale (ETAT) in Japan, this research project examines how Japanese alternative farmers use art to make sense of their farming practices, and to relate to rural spaces. These alternative farmers make active and intentional efforts to farm differently: they strive to maintain traditional practices and thus landscapes, and they establish their own marketing channels, and develop direct relationship with consumers. Qualitative interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with alternative farmers. Using pictures of the artworks of the ETAT, they were asked how they relate the artworks to their farming practices, values and approaches. The purpose of the study was to (1) collect evidence on the context and relations between art and the farming of alternative farmers; (2) explore the perspective of farmers about the impact of art and opportunities of art festivals on their farming practices; (3) develop recommendations to inform the use of art to promote diversity in farming practices and thus resilience of farms and rural communities.
|Art, Farmers, Embodied practices
|Promoting environmental justice through resourceful engagement of communities
|Rather than viewing urban food strategies (UFSs) as the end product of participatory food governance processes, this study will be actively promoting the potential of UFSs to mark the start of reflexive, ongoing and open conversations about their implications and implementation in practice. This doctoral study project seeks to explore how European medium-sized cities can 1) recognize and empower disadvantaged communities and less conventional urban food governance actors to engage with food and challenge current food governance practices (resourceful), 2) foster and facilitate ongoing, accessible and representative networks of urban food governance actors (collaborative), and 3) bring about meaningful urban food system changes (transformative) throughout their UFS development, dissemination and implementation trajectories.
The empirical data-collection consists of three stages: First, we performed an exploratory document analysis of the UFSs of 16 European medium-sized cities, in which we particularly focused on social justice-oriented narratives. Subsequently, we assessed how the identified social justice-oriented food policy ambitions of one of these cities - Groningen (NL) - are pursued in the years after the document is published, by reflecting on this trajectory with policy officers and bottom-up food initiatives. Finally, based on the framework, outcomes and gained insights of the preceding research, we developed an engagement toolkit, the RE-ADJUSTool (REflecting on & ADvancing Justice in Urban food STrategies), which was tested in Groningen (NL) to map and evaluate the city’s UFS implementation efforts and in Ostend (BE) to kick-start a dialogue about integrating social justice in the development stage of the city’s UFS.
|Food, Local government policy, Social justice, Citizen participation, Urban food strategies, Food system governance, Alternative food networks, Community initiatives, Transdisciplinary research, Engagement tools
|Nohemi Erendira Ramirez Aranda
|Participatory GIS: Stimulating resourceful community management of open space through dialogue and visioning
|In the last 20 years, the mapping of Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) through Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) relied predominantly on points and polygons for the collection of spatial data, regardless of their limitations. As the potential of online PPGIS as a support tool for spatial decision making keeps growing, so does the need for more suitable spatial features to collect data. Using an online PPGIS tool, we collected data from 449 respondents about the CES in Ghent’s green open spaces using three spatial features: points, polygons, and the novel “marker.” The accuracy of the three spatial features was analyzed through quadrat analyses, regressions against the collective truth, and a survey on the accuracy of the three spatial features amongst respondents. The results show points performing the weakest, especially when mapping for Dynamic CES and markers perform the strongest. The polygons’ performance compares to that of the markers, although slightly weaker. The marker does not only deliver a more precise image of respondents’ input, but it is also simpler to use and with less risk of spatial errors. We argue that the marker is a suitable alternative to the point and the polygon when collecting spatial data in future CES research.
Open space and recreation areas, Community participation, Environmental planning