Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Building social connections
This thesis evaluates a multi-stakeholder participatory planning initiative, NeighbourPLAN, in Peterborough, Ontario, and the role of the third-party broker, GreenUP, in establishing connections and networks of capacity between marginalized members of the community and contributing organizations, city, and experts. Participatory approaches to engage residents disenfranchised by traditional planning processes are believed to challenge the status quo perpetuated by top-down decision-making. I worked within two neighbourhoods involved in NeighbourPLAN to determine whether the collaborative work and brokering between stakeholders would foster increased connectedness that could exist independently and last beyond the project's timeline. The findings from this evaluation determine that, from the residents' perspectives, while the presence of the other stakeholders in these participatory planning events was valuable, there was not enough affective time to create long-lasting connections. Partners that developed relationships marked with trust and mutual benefit provide a helpful blueprint showing how serious commitment and consistency can build sustainable and meaningful connections. I conclude with a set of recommendations to enhance the connection building between diverse stakeholders and marginalized communities within NeighbourPLAN, highlighting the promising potential of arts-based and storytelling methods. Author Keywords: arts-based methods, community engagement, Participatory action research (PAR), participatory planning, photovoice, social connectedness
Civic Agriculture
This thesis re-imagines the social sustainability of civic agriculture. This entails critically examining the idea of sustainability and exposing why a tendency to undertheorize its social dimension is problematic for how we think about sustainability, and consequently for how we do sustainability. What is demonstrated is that we can overcome this tendency by adopting Stephen McKenzie's understanding of social sustainability as a positive condition and/or process within a community. Once brought into contact with the concept of civic agriculture as presented by Thomas A. Lyson, and expanded upon by others, this broadened understanding of social sustainability reveals that we can think of civic agriculture as both a means to, and an expression of, social sustainability. Specifically, this thesis argues that it is civic agriculture's community problem-solving dimension which animates civic agriculture in such a way that it creates the sort of condition and/or enables the sort of process which reflect aspects associated with a substantive and/or procedural understanding of social sustainability. This re-imagining of the social sustainability of civic agriculture provides ways to defend civic agriculture from its critics and is exemplified by drawing from a personal encounter with civic agriculture. In the end, it is proposed that in light of this research there are now good reasons to re-examine civic agriculture and to critically re-imagine what qualifies who as a civic agriculturalist so that the contextual nature of the social sustainability of civic agriculture can be better respected. Author Keywords: civic agriculture, community problem solving, local food systems, social sustainability, Stephen McKenzie, Thomas A. Lyson
Unsettling Inner Landscapes
Recent climate scientists, Indigenous resurgence scholars, and psychologists have variously indicated that we need a transformation of consciousness in order to address the cultural and spiritual forces at the root of our current environmental, interpersonal, and individual crises of disconnection. My research is in direct response to diverse calls for this paradigm shift, including the words of Elders such as the late Grandfather William Commanda who encouraged settlers such as myself to ‘remember our original instructions’. Through an anti-colonial and trauma-informed lens, my goal has been to strategically inform my roles and responsibilities in healing the disconnection and abuses in what I term the trilogy of my relationships to self, others, and Land. This study is both a critical auto-ethnography and as well as a theoretical engagement with Indigenous resurgence, settler colonialism, and sustainability discourses. I share dialogues with Anishinaabe-kweg in my community with whom I have established relationships and the results of our discussions focus on holistic models of transforming settler consciousness. What emerges is an emotional, uncertain, and yet radically hopeful narrative that points to the urgency of centering Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous relationship models while endeavouring to reconstruct a sense of identity and belonging along more accountable lines. Recovering a sense of my Celtic epistemology and story work is offered as a strategic exemplar of how settlers might begin to remember and co-create more balanced, respectful, and reciprocal relationships with and within place. Nurturing an embodied spiritual practice of deep listening, critical self-reflection, and collective action is discussed as potentially central to sustaining a decolonizing praxis for white settler Canadians more broadly. Author Keywords: Critical auto-ethnography, Critical Spirituality, Decolonization, Indigenous-settler relations, Original Instructions, Settler colonial studies
Prioritizing Restoration Potential within Protected Areas in Haliburton County, Ontario
Ecological restoration helps managers of protected areas respond to challenges presented by factors that threaten ecological integrity and respond to residual effects of previous land use. Many protected areas require restoration on sections of the property, due to previous land use. The objective of this thesis is to present criteria that assist ecological restoration professionals in assessing the potential of restoration projects within a protected area, based on the restoration wheels from the International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration. The criteria were discovered from a review of the literature and reinforced from interviews with experienced restoration practitioners and a focus group session with key members of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust (HHLT). Based on the combination of biophysical and socioeconomic values in the restoration wheels, they are presented in the form of a five-star assessment system to create long-term restoration goals for properties of the HHLT and protected areas in general. These long-term restoration goals can be utilized in conjunction with the wheels and five-star assessment tools to prioritize restoration projects Author Keywords: Determining Project Potential, Ecological Restoration, Evaluating Success, Haliburton, Land trusts, Restoration Wheels
Ohwén
Ohwén:tsia Entsionkwarihón:nien is a project that explores the intersection of Kanien’kéha immersion, Kanien’kehá:ka culture and the potential impacts of experiencing Rotinonhsón:ni knowledge on the land. Students at the Akwesasne Freedom School are fully immersed in the Kanien’kéha language and the “curriculum” is centered around four Rotinonhsón:ni systems of knowledge. What is missing, as identified by the teachers, is consistent opportunities for students to physically be on the land. This project asks how can we ensure that future generations of Onkwehónwe children can embody their language and their culture in connection to the land. The resulting “curriculum” then shifts from determining what students will learn, to listening to what the land has to teach. A land-based program by the AFS can translate to educational control, cultural sustainability, food sovereignty, environmental stewardship, community empowerment and linguistic revitalization; each of these is a critical component of building and rebuilding communities and nations. Author Keywords: Indigenous methodology, Land-Based Education, Rotinonhsón:ni, Storytelling
Uncovering the Barriers to Sustainable Music Consumption
The study sought to uncover the motivations influencing collectors when they buy recorded music. These motivations were analyzed through the lenses of environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability. Trent Radio Programmers were interviewed because of their frequent use of recorded music, sizable collections, and active participation in the local music scene. The study identified disconnects between artist, industry, and consumer motivations that hinder the achievement of a sustainable system. Environmental sustainability was not considered, while the artists’ economic and cultural sustainability were. This finding translates to the idea that in the music industry, to strengthen cultural sustainability, economics must be supported, which requires environmental impact. This research has the potential to catalyze critical conversations about digital media, artist welfare, and the state of the music industry. Author Keywords: College Radio, Cultural Sustainability, Economic Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Music Collecting
Opportunities for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage in Building Materials
The “upfront” embodied carbon (EC) of building materials includes the accumulated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from harvesting, manufacturing and transportation processes, and is becoming more widely recognized as a major source of global GHGs. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the potential for buildings to go beyond reduced or zero GHG emissions and to become– at least temporarily – a negative emissions technology, namely places of net storage of carbon. The study examines the EC for two samples of low-rise residential buildings that are representative of the North American wood-framed typology: a single-unit raised bungalow of 185m2 and an eight-unit, four-story of 935 m2. Data from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for a wide variety of materials that could feasibly be used to construct the sample buildings are used to calculate the total EC for four different material assemblies in each building type: High EC, Typical EC, Best Conventional EC and Best EC. Results demonstrate the upfront embodied carbon can vary widely, ranging from a worst-case scenario of 415 kgCO2e/m2 of net emissions to a best case of 170 kgCO2e/m2 of net carbon storage by using biogenic (plant-based) materials. In addition, an energy modeling analysis of the buildings was conducted for the Toronto, Ontario climate to compare the EC with the operational carbon (OC) emissions. The results show that achievable reductions in EC could provide more than four times the overall GHG reductions than energy efficiency improvements to reduce OC between 2020 and 2050. The building model with both the lowest EC and OC is shown to have net carbon storage for several centuries. At the current scale of US residential construction, annual carbon storage in residential buildings as modeled could reach 30,000,000 tonnes, the equivalent of 10 coal-fired power plants. The immediate impact of large-scale GHG reductions from the use of carbon-storing materials is demonstrated to be worthy of consideration for the building industry and related policy makers. Author Keywords: Biogenic carbon, Carbon accounting, Embodied carbon, Energy efficiency, Life cycle analysis, Operation emissions
Sustainable Development and Environmental Security in the Canadian Arctic
This study identifies and examines interlinkages between climate change and sustainable development, environmental security, and adaptive capacity through a case study of two communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region: Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. It seeks to understand how these two communities perceive climate change and define sustainable development, particularly in relation to oil and gas development. This thesis discusses the constraints that may be arising for local communities to benefit from emerging opportunities due to competing notions of sustainable development and environmental security. The findings indicate how notions of environmental security and sustainable development act upon multiple levels to impact the adaptive capacity of communities in the Arctic. The general findings also suggest that regionally specific understandings of sustainable development, sustainability, and environmental security need to be acknowledged in order to develop successful governance coordination and cooperation strategies and paradigms related to economic, social, infrastructure and environmental issues in the NWT and the Canadian Arctic. Author Keywords: Arctic, Beaufort Sea, climate change, Environmental Security, Inuvialuit, Sustainable Development
Sowing the seeds of Canada's future agroecological farm(er)s
There are many barriers facing new, sustainably-focused, agriculturalists in Canada including access to land, capital, markets and practical training. These challenges are compounded by the flawed but powerful figure of the industrial agriculture model, a rapidly aging farmer population, changing demographics, and subsequent loss of valuable, place-based agricultural knowledge. This thesis argues that there is a need for innovative formal education programs that combine traditional classroom with practical hands-on learning in collaboration with local experts. As such, this exploratory case study looks at how a farm incubator can function as a site for experiential education and a means of addressing some of the barriers to entry faced by new agroecological farmers. The findings show that those seeking experiential sustainable agriculture education benefit greatly from having a site, such as a farm incubator, to learn the skills that accompany their knowledge while building their agricultural community and increasing their confidence. Author Keywords: agroecology, experiential learning, farm incubators, social learning, sustainable agriculture and food systems education, transdsciplinary
Examining the Role of Intermediary Organizations in Participatory Planning
This research evaluates the role of GreenUP, a non-profit in Peterborough, Ontario, as the intermediary organization for NeighbourPLAN. The project examines GreenUP’s role in facilitating and managing NeighbourPLAN, a participatory planning project with multiple local partners and actors. Six critical success factors are used to understand and conceptualize intermediary success (adapted from Holden et al., 2016). Critical success factors include knowledge; governance; relationships; resources; activities; and motivation. Findings from the research highlight the importance of trust, resources, and time within this framework. Author Keywords: Community Based Research, Intermediary, Neighbourhood, Non-profit, Participatory Planning, Partnership Structure
Can Shared Platforms Build Sustainability in the Non-profit Sector? Comparing Practitioner Perceptions of Organizational Experience in Non-profit Organizations and Platform Projects
This thesis explores practitioner perceptions of operational and structural experiences of non-profit organizations (NPO) and platform projects (PP) to develop an understanding of how a shared platform governance model can build resiliency and sustainability in non-profit organizations. The objectives of this research are to 1) develop an understanding of NPO and PP operational and structural experiences based on qualitative interviews with practitioners; 2) analyze how a PP model can address challenges facing the NPO sector; and 3) based on a thorough analysis of current literature and research findings, recommend a model that addresses these challenges and builds sustainability in NPOs. A grounded inductive approach was used to identify a thematic narrative. The process was iterative, working between existing literature and interview data. Interviews with eight NPO practitioners and eight PP practitioners revealed four narrative theme areas: Financial, Funder, Organizational, and Emotional Tone. The results document several ways a PP model can provide opportunities to address the perceived funder and organizational challenges of small NPOs. Keywords: non-profit organizations, collaboration, innovation, governance models, shared platform, platform projects Author Keywords: governance model , innovation , non-profit organizations , organizational resilience, shared platform, Sustainability
Age-Friendly for Whom?
In this thesis, I explore the question of what would make Peterborough a good or “age-friendly” place to grow old(er) from a diversity of perspectives within and outside the structures of Age-friendly Peterborough (AFP). This research further explores if and/or how AFP and the Age-friendly movement more broadly, can be used as a tool for visioning and enacting more just, equitable, and “age-friendly” aging futures. To answer these questions I used semi-structured interviews with individuals either presently or previously involved with Age-friendly Peterborough, and an intergenerational and arts-based workshop, “Imagining our Futures.” From the research findings, I argue that AFP has a significant role to play in making Peterborough a better place to grow old(er), while also outlining how dominant Age-friendly frameworks are limited in their ability to move us towards aging futures that are just, equitable, and “age-friendly.” Author Keywords: Age-Friendly Communities, Age-Friendly Movement, Aging Futures, Arts-Based Research, Interdependence, Successful Aging

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