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The Challenges of Changing Governance: Curating New Civic Identities for Health and Wellbeing

Part of the Cities and Nature book series (CITIES)

Abstract

This chapter argues that community volunteering initiatives in support of wetland environments within the UK generate landscape-specific forms of environmental citizenship. Utilising empirical fieldwork undertaken within two co-associated wetland nature reserves in central London prior to its opening, and within local waterscapes in three interconnected rural villages, this chapter suggests that emergent modes of citizen agency are primarily enacted through the performativity of volunteering. Members of the local community effectively curate new civic identities for themselves in response to each site. These emergent environmental citizenships are stimulated by different forces. In the urban setting the local authority has invested heavily financially to address issues of social equity and access to nature in a relatively deprived and densely populated area. Participation in the wealthier rural area has been prompted by withdrawal of local government funding in response to ‘geographies of austerity’ where citizens are burdened with tasks such as flood and land management. In both spaces the demarcation between those who manage, those who operationalise activities and those who use these sites becomes blurred. Care must be taken to promote community collaboration in support of freshwater environmental integrity without these communities bearing the disbenefits of these new modes of governmentality.

Keywords

  • Urban and rural wetlands
  • Flooding
  • Landscape management
  • Community volunteering
  • Elders
  • Civic identity

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Gearey, M. (2020). The Challenges of Changing Governance: Curating New Civic Identities for Health and Wellbeing. In: Dempsey, N., Dobson, J. (eds) Naturally Challenged: Contested Perceptions and Practices in Urban Green Spaces. Cities and Nature. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44480-8_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44480-8_6

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