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Re-connecting with a Recovering River through Imaginative Engagement

Paul Selman, Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield
Claudia Carter, Alice Holt, Forest Research
Anna Lawrence, Alice Holt, Forest Research
Clare Morgan, Kellogg College, University of Oxford

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Abstract

Imaginative engagement as a mode of citizen participation—the use of arts-based methods to involve people actively in shared learning experiences—holds promise as a means to increase awareness and understanding, and to build capacity, for sustainable use and management of rivers. We conducted a series of creative writing workshops in a former industrial area of northern England that were focused on a "recovering" river. Participants in the workshops found the process a positive experience and reported changes in their knowledge, attitudes, and actions about the use and management of river environments locally and more generally. The "catchment consciousness" of members appeared to increase, and their raised levels of interest led them to invest time in researching the history and geography of the river. We conclude that the method has significant potential for complementing collaborative approaches to river planning and management.

Key words

imaginative engagement, participatory methods, river management, social learning, water catchment consciousness
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087