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249 AFTERWORD Toward a Collaborative Engagement David Maddox From where does innovation emerge and thrive? From which sources flow novel ideas that can make a difference? In my own experience (in science, theater, and civil society), real innovation most often flourishes when novel collections of different types of people gather to collaborate on problems that demand solutions. Together they create something that they never would have produced working by themselves. They innovate in unexpected ways. Cities are full of people with wide-ranging points of view. Indeed, extensive engagement and collaboration among individuals with different points of view is a reasonable description of any city, town, or human settlement. Every city is a gathering of people trying to negotiate their vision for the future, and who, despite disagreements, want to make their communities better. Novel collaborations for the public good is also a good description of the fundamental idea of this book, which gathers together representatives from various civil society organizations—civic ecology groups focused on a broad vision of environmental stewardship—and academics interested in scientific studies of change, ecosystems , and society. The process that led to Grassroots to Global: Broader Impacts of Civic Ecology starts with people—people from civil society and people from academia paired to explore a fundamental and potentially transformative question: Do smallscale civic ecology practices make a difference beyond the small spaces that they immediately transform? At its most basic, this is a straightforward (if generally 250 AFTERWORD underexplored) question of impact assessment and monitoring. However, a more vivid answer involves an interrogation of scale: Can such practices make a difference over time, and can they influence actions in other places? Can they persist? Can they spread? The short answer is “yes they can,” but don’t always. One avenue for success is sharing and innovation. Such practices can make a difference by discovering through collaborative and collective action and by sharing ways to act on and improve places for both people and nature. The chapters in this book are an important exploration of these ideas about innovation and collective action.Their power lies in their collaborative invention, produced by interrogating different points of view to find what works and why it works, and communicating their findings and insights to others. As the facilitator for the workshop that brought the chapter authors of this book together for the first time, I was able to witness this innovation take root. We made a film of each participant sharing his or her definition of civic ecology (Maddox 2015). In experiencing the compilation of ideas, one can appreciate how the richness of this collaborative concept emerges from diverse approaches and points of view but related values. In recent years, research on the connection between people and nature in human communities—urban spaces, variously defined—has flourished. Many examples from around the world can be found at The Nature of Cities blog (TNOC 2017), which I founded and edit. In 1990 fewer than five thousand papers were published with a keyword of “urban”; in 2016 there were nearly seventy thousand (Wolfram,Frantzeskaki,and Maschmeyer 2016).But it is not only urban research that is flourishing. Cities and communities around the world increasingly benefit from participation and activism by civil society, practitioners in various arenas of environmental stewardship and community building, and regular citizens. Examples of such work are illustrated in this book. The civic ecology activism richly exemplified here, especially when wedded to scientific ways of knowing, has three broad benefits for societies. First, it facilitates the grounded practice of making better cities through not just knowledge, but knowledge-based action and lived experience. This is reflected in the actual design of neighborhoods, infrastructure, and open spaces—that is, places—that are better for both people and nature, and reflect the desires and work of members of the community. The knowledge of civil society can inform the work of scientists by grounding it and connecting it to outcomes. In turn, for civil society, the methods of science can help evaluate the methods of practice and potentially make then generalizable. Second, the civic ecology practices in this book lay a foundation for a knowledge based on lived experience that can drive the policy realm of city building. Understanding such lived experience and practitioner knowledge can be a basis AFTERWORD 251 from which to connect academic research and civil society, and make research legible to policy makers. Sometimes policy-relevant knowledge is academically generated; sometimes it is gathered from lived...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781501714993
Related ISBN
9781501714979
MARC Record
OCLC
1013988671
Pages
276
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-13
Language
English
Open Access
No
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