At the heart of socially innovative responses to climate change and adaptation at the local scale are the knowledge and practices.
Developing shared understandings and the collective capacity to transform the climate adaptation status quo. This involves making new connections both in terms of knowledge, skills and practices, but also between diverse people, groups and things (i.e. communities, neighbourhoods, sectors, nature, technology, art).
Key to this is embracing diverse stories and recognizing the rich diversity of what counts as knowledge and who counts as a knower. This involves recognising that there is a ‘multiplicity of ways of knowing’ (Sandercock and Forsyth, 1992) or ‘connected knowing’ (Belenskey et al 1986) underpinned by important, yet oft overlooked or assumed questions such as:
This range of ways of ‘knowing’ climate adaptation at the local scale includes a spectrum of stories: informal, subjective accounts such as dialogue, personal experience, local knowledge, visual images, actions and activities; as well as the more formal, objective reports such as resource mapping and scientific research.
‘Stories’ in all their forms are the compasses by which we navigate our place in the world, offering a way of travelling from here to there and locating the silences in between (see Rebecca Solnit, 2013). Stories help build knowledge through the narratives, ideas, anecdotes, summaries, histories, musings, theories and data that work to create empathy and identity. Place itself for example is a story/storied/stories.
Climate adaptation at the local scale involves a constellation of stories, experience and activities that link together formal and informal practices identified in Figure 1 (see Stengers 2005, 2010, Houston et al. 2016).
We can build and bridge the knowledge base around local scale climate adaptation by engaging with diverse ways of knowing. Creatively connecting enables us to re-imagine our experience of – and responses to – climate change, creating the foundation for new possibilities of of socially innovative and transformative change.
Shared knowledge/stories lies at the heart of local adaptation to climate change.Through sharing local stories across all sectors (public, private, not-for profit), the dominance of technical and institutional ‘fixes’ of climate adaptation gives way to an “ethics of connection” (Rose and Robin 2004). As Bruno Latour (2010, p.455) notes:
A common world is not something we come to recognize, as though it had always been here (and we had not until now noticed it). A common world, if there is going to be one, is something we will have to build, tooth and nail, together.Bruno Latour
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Houston, D., MacCallum, D., Steele, W., Byrne, J (2016) Climate Cosmopolitics and the possibilities for urban planning, Nature + Culture, 11(3): 1-29
Latour, B. (2010) An Attempt at a Compositionist Manifesto. New Literary History 41(3): 471– 490
Rose, D and Robin. L (2004) The Ecological Humanities: An Invitation. Australian Humanities Review 31 – 32.
Sandercock, L and Forsyth, A (1992) A Gender Agenda: New Directions for Planning Theory, Journal of the American Planning Association, 58(1):49-59
Solnit, R. (2013) The Faraway Nearby, New York: Viking.
Stengers, I. (2005) The Cosmopolitical Proposal, In Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, ed. Latour, B and Weibel, P Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 994–1003.
Stengers, I (2010) Cosmopolitics I, II. Trans. Bononno, R Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.