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A sense of place in a changing environment

Updated: Sep 23, 2019

This week has been an experience in both annotation for youtube, oral history and a program called Thinglink. When this were shown first, it instantly caught my eye, as I have worked with StoryMap and ArcGIS previously and I could instantly think of ideas on how to apply this to my work. I have here used Thinglink for another project of mine, about nature narratives within the Arctic circle, tourism and climate change. I together with other master students travelled to the Arctic circle for a research trip in May 2019, doing interviews with locals in the tourist industry. We were primarily focusing on their idea of a sense of place and its meaning in a changing environment; the focus lying on human inflicted climate change. Climate change is a phenomenon affecting humans, animals and the environment all over the globe. But certain ecosystems are affected to such an extent that the way of life in these regions will and have already changed radically; the Arctic Region is such an ecosystem.

The map below is an aerial view of the territory we did, with tagged locations for our sketch maps.

Our methodology was using sketch mapping together with narrative walks. Sketch mapping is freehand drawn maps, preferably on a blank paper or on a map with very few details. Less distraction of predefined spatial features enables that a greater focus and attention is paid to places and spatial dimensions that are of importance to the person drawing. Sketch mapping as a methodological tool is frequently used by behavioural geographers, and is a form of understanding relations and perceptions between humans and the studied location. Therefore forms of sketch mapping (and also cognitive mapping) has been adopted within environmental studies, due to it being able to compel the informants to consider their relation to their own surroundings. We used the theoretical concept of a sense of place, a term often used within geographic studies as well as art and literature, as a base for our project; what is our emotional space and its connections to the spatial dimensions? We wanted to argue that sense of place works to find and legitimize local values of importance instead of purely economic values used when formulating policies within climate change mitigation. In ArcGIS, we added coordinates of locations connected to their sketch maps, and related it to potential environmental changes already occurring and potential futures.



We decided not to record our interviews, as we were often on the road together or having a herd of 70 husky dogs in the background, but took extensive notes and photographs connected to coordinates; spatial maps and sketch maps. After this week's readings, in regards to Linda Shopes Making Sense of Oral History on oral history, I now in hindsight wish we would have been more mindful of collecting these stories in voice or video recording. The Arctic with its glaciers as a ‘nature’s archive’, as it was with extractions of glaciers that helped scientists be able to define periods of carbon dioxide levels and its increase. It is also one of the regions where change is happening now and very radically so. Our climate is changing and the stories of what it used to be and how it felt will be valuable to record, recording not the spatial importance, but the emotional and sense of place.



The maps below are our sketch maps with location tagged within the maps that are in relation to the aerial map.



Interview and sketch map with Olof, lived and worked in Jukkasjärvi for 10 years, working at the ICEHOTEL.




Sketch map from Åsa, lived her whole life in Arctic parts of Sweden, owner of Arctic Dogsled Adventure



Sketch map from talking to Stephanie, French who's been working and living in the area for almost 15 years, has her own business Husky Voice




Sketch map from Ida-Maria, who is Sámi and has created her business around showing tourists her and her family life as Sámi, SápmiLIFE.

Bibliography

Linda Shopes, “Making Sense of Oral History,” Oral History in the Digital Age. http://ohda.matrix.msu.edu/2012/08/making-sense-of-oral-history/

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