Research in Urban Forestry: Expanding Directions and Sharing Knowledge
Our Tree Canada team was sitting around our table in the boardroom discussing a recent event when I offered a casual reference to an uncommon book that I had read the previous week regarding a labour issue. At this point, Monette Gauvreau, our Communications Officer, and Debra Beattie, our Development Manager, who is accustomed to my frequent offerings of sporadic facts, data and marginal details about topical issues, both turned to me and said, “Hey, you should start a blog about your research!”
Being an over-analytical person, I immediately started thinking about how this process might work: what topics should be covered? What are the parameters? How can we include some research while inevitably excluding others? Before I begin this quarterly series of research blog posts, I wanted to tell you a bit about myself which may serve to qualify why Debra and Monette chose me to share this information with you.
I am a bard at heart. I have an eclectic background in creative writing, literature and anthropology. Urban forestry was a more recent development in my career that I welcomed wholeheartedly and spent the past 12 years exploring. I am a recent doctoral graduate of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Inspired by political ecology, my academic research focuses on communicating under-represented narratives in urban forestry and arboriculture towards new ways for bridging theory and practice in the field. I pursue this through writing, film and photography.
I love teaching and learning with, and from others, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting many amazing people in my academic, applied and volunteer endeavours: working with various organizations, levels of government and sitting on multiple Boards such as the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition Shade Policy Committee and the Ontario Urban Forest Council.
Currently, in my role with Tree Canada, I manage the national urban forestry programs portfolio, which includes directing the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy (CUFS), Network (CUFN) and biennial Conference (CUFC). In addition to moving the strategic efforts forward within our organization, I come to this role with the intention of growing our national network and helping to share urban forestry knowledge and initiatives that are currently being pursued across the country.
Research in urban forestry is expanding to include marginal stories and topics such as urban agriculture, feminist perspectives, community health, language constructions, and artistic representations that can help inform better policies.
Thus, the objective of these quarterly blog posts is to inform readers of academic research, publications and other forms of telling stories (e.g. films) that invoke emotion and inspire critical thinking towards various urban ecological topics. Topics will be drawn from feedback received through our contacts, our CUFN listserv, our regional workshops, as well as other sources. This effort is part of a larger initiative that we are currently exploring under the Research Working Group (WG3, Task 3.4) of the CUFS. We are currently compiling an online database of urban forestry resources that we hope to make publicly accessible over the long term. I welcome your feedback and contributions as we move forward.
For an introductory look, I will be giving an oral presentation on this topic with one of my colleagues from the Totten Fellows, on Friday, November 6th, at the Ontario Urban Forest Council annual conference and AGM in Toronto, Ontario.
The first written entry will be circulated towards the end of November 2015.
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