Weaving ‘Protective stories’ to secure urban green areas

Henrik Ernstson and Sverker Sörlin‘s article Weaving protective stories: connective practices to articulate holistic values in the Stockholm National Urban Park, (2009 Environment and Planning A).  Is described in a Stockholm Resilience Centre press release ‘Protective stories´ help secure urban green areas:

Despite strong exploitation pressure, a diverse urban movement of civil society organizations in Stockholm has managed to provide narratives able to explain and legitimize the need to protect urban green areas. Through ‘protective stories´ that interlaces cultural history and conservation biology, activists have managed to link areas previously considered disconnected and justifying the need for a better, overall protection of the areas.

Crucial for generating and keeping alive such narratives have been artists, authors and scientists and their artefacts like paintings, maps, buildings and scientific reports. While some artists are from the historical past, others have worked alongside the movement in producing artefacts towards articulating certain values. When re-printed in media, displayed at an exhibition, or published in a book, these artefacts — old or newly produced — also become agents in “telling the story” so as to put pressure on authorities and to change public opinon.

Such networks of activists, artefacts and social arenas do not possess any formal power, but they can nonetheless achieve a lot, both as a community of practice wielding power and knowledge but also through mobilizing yet more actors and artefacts to make the network grow. The protective story is kept alive at many places continously and simultaneously, says Ernstson.

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