From Government to Governance: Redefining politics

The political voice of citizens along with other multiple factors has transformed today’s municipal decision-making process whereby increases in partnerships and social movements have influenced the evolution of a top down government to an increasingly participatory governance structure. Urban political ecological nuances underlie the urban tendencies to implement participatory budgeting, decentralization policies, adaptation and adaptive style governance practices. Understanding these dynamics that have been influencing this shift can further aid municipal policy to improve citizen involvement. Topics can include insights on: institutional mechanisms and the creation of space for citizen; incentives and shifts that aim to devolve top down governance; and adaptation processes needed for shifts to more participatory governance styles.

Moderator: Scott Prudham, Professor, Department of Geography and School of the Environment, University of Toronto

Keynote speaker: Dr. Cecil Konijnendijk, Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark - “From Government to Governance: Urban Forests as New Commons”

Definitions of 'urban forestry' have often stressed its socially-inclusive nature and called for participatory approaches to planning, design and management. However, in many cases governmental and primarily municipal actors have steered decision-making. In order to develop governance with or even without government in urban forestry, important lessons can be learnt from revisiting the concept of 'Commons'. This presentation discusses, based on examples from across the world, how urban forests can be developed as New Commons where benefits, costs and responsibilities are shared within local communities. The governance implications of this development are critically analysed.

Dr. Cecil Konijnendijk, a Dutch national living in Sweden, is professor of Green Space Management at the Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, University of Copenhagen, where heads the research group on Parks, People and Policies. Cecil is also part-time professor in management of green outdoor space at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Alnarp. He holds an M.Sc. (forest policy) from the University of Wageningen, Netherlands, and a D.Sc. (forest policy and economics) from the University of Joensuu, Finland.  Cecil has studied the role of forests, trees and green spaces in urban societies across the world, with as special interests urban forestry, green space governance, functions of green space, as well as communication and public involvement issues. Cecil has authored over 200 publications, including the Springer book ‘The Forest and the City: the cultural landscape of urban woodland’, and is editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening.

Michael Rosen, President, Tree Canada - “Urban Forests and Corporate Culture”

Frequently urban forest presentations deal with: technical issues (planting, pruning, insects), political issues (municipal/provincial/federal involvement) environmental issues (energy conservation, air and water quality) or societal issues (crime deterrence, community identification). Rarely does the link between urban forests and Canadian corporate culture enter these discussions. The role of corporate Canada in the management of urban forests is in its infancy in Canada, paralleling that of the development of urban forests in the country as a whole. These contributions are sometimes viewed by society in positive ways (as a generous gift or justified obligation) and sometimes in negative ways (as green washing or guilt funding). The contribution of the private sector to urban forests indicates the increasing status of urban forests in our society as well as the sustainability of the environmental movement in the 21st century. Expectations of the private sector, of the NGO’s that deliver their programs and of the community all may differ but the end results and accomplishments can be very impressive. This presentation will explore the role of the private sector in urban forest programs: tree planting and more.

As the President of Tree Canada, Michael Rosen is responsible for securing private and public partnerships, overall project management, governance and chief of Board and stakeholder relations. Michael brings more than 20 years of experience to the position. Michael was Vice-President of Tree Canada since 2002, responsible for project implementation, donor development, communications and technical standards. Previously he was a Stewardship Coordinator and Forester for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources where he received the Amethyst Award for his work especially during the 1998 ice storm. Michael also served as an adviser to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario's Tree Bylaws Advisory Committee, helped author the document Sustainable Forests in Urban Ontario, and managed the York Regional and Simcoe County Forests. He helped York Region pass its first tree cutting bylaw in the early 90's and has written articles on urban forestry, trees and private land forest management. He graduated in forestry from the University of Toronto, possesses a B. A. in History from Trent University and has a diploma from U of T and Lakehead University in the Ontario Advanced Forestry Program. Michael is a Registered Professional Forester in Ontario and a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. He lives in Cantley, Québec.” (from website)

Lindsay K. Campbell, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, Rutgers University - “Constructing New York City’s urban forest: The politics and governance of the MillionTreesNYC campaign”

MillionTreesNYC is a ten year urban forestry campaign to plant and care for one million new trees in New York City managed via a public-private partnership between the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the nonprofit New York Restoration Project. The campaign was launched in 2007 as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s long-term municipal sustainability plan, PlaNYC2030. It is an illustrative case of contemporary urban environmental governance that draws upon public and private resources and engages a network of actors across sectors via its partnership structure. Although decision-making is not transformed or devolved to the public, the campaign harnesses the labor of residents as volunteer stewards of trees. This paper draws upon dissertation research that examines the network of actors, institutions, discourses, and socio-natural environments that constitute urban forestry in New York City. It asks: who are the actors involved in the politics and governance of urban forestry? How do they participate and what discourses about nature and society do they deploy? Political ecology brings careful attention to the power dynamics among actors and raises questions about who participates in and who is excluded from decision-making and natural resource management. In addition to the focus on mayoral power in urban politics, this study highlights the role of municipal bureaucrats, celebrity-led nonprofit organizations, research scientists, and private funders. Findings draw upon semi-structured interviews with 35 subjects engaged in urban forestry across sectors; as well as participant observation of the campaign over the course of four years. Overall, this study builds upon prior work that examines the political and discursive dimensions of natural resource management, extending it to the recent empirical phenomena of sustainability planning and green infrastructure campaigns in global cities. Further, it brings concepts of urban political theory and networked governance into nature-society geography.

Lindsay K. Campbell is a doctoral candidate in geography at Rutgers University and holds a Masters in City Planning from MIT and an AB in Public Policy from Princeton University. Her current research explores the dynamics of urban natural resource stewardship and sustainability policymaking -- with her dissertation focusing on the politics and practices of urban forestry and agriculture in New York City. Lindsay is a research social scientist for the USDA Forest Service who works with the New York City Urban Field Station (a partnership between the Forest Service and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation). She is a member of the MillionTreesNYC Advisory Committee and Research and Evaluation Subcommittees and an advisor to Ioby, an online micro-philanthropy organization for grassroots environmental action. She is also a member of the NSF-funded ULTRA-EX team examining changes in land cover, ecosystem services, and stewardship in New York City’s urban forest.

Sean Martindale, Artist - “Is it Possible to Intervene Outside of Government?”

Interventionist projects such as Outside the Planter Boxes are inherently political, but not necessarily in the sense of party politics. We all have stakes in our shared environments, and Outside the Planter Boxes is a public project that directly engages with Toronto’s urban fabric. It is intended to encourage more interest and critical participation in our shared spaces – to demonstrate that the public can play a more consciously active role in how our city is shaped beyond traditional government channels. Through creative expressions the project proposes alternatives and reveals possibilities for increased biodiversity and improved city infrastructure.

Sean Martindale is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary artist and designer currently based in Toronto, Canada. His interventions activate public and semi-public spaces to encourage engagement, often focused on ecological and social issues. His playful works question and suggest alternate possibilities for existing spaces, infrastructures and materials found in the urban environment. Frequently, Martindale uses salvaged goods and live plants in unexpected ways that prompt conversations and interaction. Martindale’s projects have been featured on countless prominent sites online, as well as in traditional media such as print, radio, broadcast television and film. His practice has a global following and has been written about in countries all around the world, and in multiple languages. Martindale was profiled for the first episode of the CBC’s Great Minds of Design, one of his lectures was filmed by TVO for their Big Ideas series, and his work was also included in the feature-length documentary This Space Available, released in 2011. The Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts (TFVA) awarded Martindale their prestigious Artist Prize for 2012. He holds an MFA from the Interdisciplinary Master’s of Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University in Toronto, and a Bachelor of Design from Emily Carr University in Vancouver. He was the Decennial Hancock Lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Hart House where his work was on view in 2011. Martindale has taken part in multiple solo and group exhibitions, and his projects have been shown in cities such as Montreal, Madrid, New York, Shanghai, Victoria, Vancouver, Venice, Charlottetown, Minneapolis, Paris, Angers, Brussels, Berlin and Doha. 2012 marked the opening of NOW, Martindale’s major two-person exhibition with Pascal Paquette at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the AGO’s Toronto Now contemporary project series. More recently, his work has been seen at The Royal Ontario Museum for Hot Docs, and at Toronto’s City Hall.

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