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Ecowisdom and Water in Human Settlements

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Part of the EcoWISE book series (EcoWISE)

Abstract

I examine human–water relations in cities to demonstrate how water provides a visible, critical connection to nature in urban areas. These interactions allow opportunities for humans to co-create “ecologically wise” solutions for long-term resiliency and offer a useful litmus test for the following proposition: Ecological wisdom (EW) offers successful pathways to conserving, repairing, and facilitating socio-ecological systems that may lead to long-term resilience. In this chapter, I provide a brief literature review focused on two important characteristics of water in settlements: visibility and variability. I then discuss findings stemming from an analysis of 632 vernacular water supply records from Yale University’s Human Relations Area Files database, which I used to identify several EW strategies. Two strategies in particular—matching sources and uses and using soil and vegetation to preserve water quality—may prove useful for rapidly growing and climate change impacted regions such as Texas. These two strategies provide useful examples of the types of wise systems that humans have designed with the rest of nature. I finish by concluding that although context always matters, transferable EW patterns exist and can be shared, allowing any community to work toward EW. In particular, water’s visibility and variability allow for a significant opportunity for people to co-create resilient urban habitat with the rest of nature.

  • Urban water
  • Green infrastructure
  • Ecological infrastructure
  • Vernacular water systems
  • Ecowisdom
  • Ecologically wise

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Correspondence to Katherine Lieberknecht .

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Lieberknecht, K. (2019). Ecowisdom and Water in Human Settlements. In: Yang, B., Young, R. (eds) Ecological Wisdom. EcoWISE. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-0571-9_7

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