Monday 5
Green and Blue Urban Resilience
Luc Doumenc
› 11:05 - 18:00 (6h55)
› Montpellier
Berlin's intercultural gardens: Urban landscapes of social-ecological memory
Irene Håkansson  1@  
1 : Stockholm Resilience Centre  (SRC)

Speaker's abstract for the session: The role of Spatial Experiences of Urban Nature in Re-connecting with the Biosphere


Efforts to achieve urban sustainability seek a viable intersection among economic, environmental, and social domains of life (Barlett 2005) and embrace a system perspective that highlights the interconnection of humans and the natural world (Folke and Berkes 1998), thus countering the separation of urban life from nature. Civic ecology practices, described as local environment stewardship actions for enhancing the green infrastructure and community well-being in urban systems (Tidball and Krasny 2007) are integral parts of these efforts. One prominent example of a civic ecology practice is urban community gardening – the management of public or semi-public green spaces by groups of volunteers.

People participating in these practices – so the argument goes – draw on their social-ecological memory (SE-memory), that is knowledge, experience, and practice about how to manage local ecosystems and their services (Barthel, Folke and Colding 2010). In this presentation, I want to discuss the components and implications of SE-memory. I aim to briefly address a theoretical aspect by raising often neglected dimensions of individual as opposed to collective memory, and, in particular, review the social implications of SE-memory, meaning the implications for its individual carriers themselves – in my case urban gardeners.

The presentation will centre on Berlin's intercultural gardens. These are urban community gardens where processes of SE-memory are particularly diverse and where I have conducted five months of empirical research, including intensive participant observations and in-depth interviews. My findings have shown that SE-memory processes involve expressions of individuality as well as community and comprise inter-locking streams of both individual and collective or social memory. These processes, I suggest, can play a pivotal role in the context of social urban sustainability. By closely interacting with plants and with people of different origin, reviving, modifying, and transmitting SE-memory can positively influence individuals' experience of sense of belonging, social inclusion, and commitment to cultural diversity in cities.




I would like to give a summarising five minute presentation of my empirical work and results, and afterwards participate in a discussion on the role of citizens' experience of urban green spaces for their relations both with each other and with the biosphere.



Barlett, P. F., editor. 2005. Urban place: reconnecting with the natural world. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Barthel, S., C. Folke, and J. Colding. 2010. Social-ecological memory in urban gardens: retaining the capacity for management of ecosystem services. Global Environmental Change 20(2):255-256.

Berkes, F., and C. Folke, editors. 1998. Linking social and ecological systems: management practises and social mechanisms for building resilience. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Tidball, K. G. and M. E. Krasny. 2007. From risk to resilience: what role for community greening and civic ecology in cities? Pages 149-164 in A. E. J. Wals, editior. Social learning towards a more sustainable world. Wagengingen Academic Press, Wagengingen, The Netherlands.

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