Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Scott Davis is an Early Stage Research Fellow and Ph.D student based in the University of Groningen within the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. He is undertaking work stream ESR5 – Perception of Risk: Adaptive Community Strategies within the RECOMS project. He is investigating how to influence citizens risk reducing behaviour using creative, participatory methods to build a stronger attachment between communities and their environments.
Scott is a social scientist whose background includes working on the EU FP7 funded project “DRIVER+” assisting in the delivery of community resilience work packages within crisis management scenarios. He worked for the British Red Cross as a researcher for two and a half years, his research work included community resilience modelling and supporting a number of humanitarian and public health research projects. Scott has also worked at the Scottish Government in environmental policy and as a government social researcher in public health, specifically mental health, contributing to Scotland’s suicide prevention strategy. He holds an undergraduate degree in International Policy and a post graduate degree in Research Methods.
Local environments and spaces are changing at pace, therefore how communities’ feel attached to, and responsible for adjusting their places, is also constantly evolving. At governance level, there is a social policy drive for “stronger communities” often under the banner of community resilience. Governments are requesting communities to participate more in society and therefore become more ‘’resilient’’ through taking responsibility for their local environments. However, the creation of an authentically “bottom up” community resilience strategy can be elusive for policy makers who are used to more rationalistic, top down, indicator-based solutions.
This research investigates a potential community resilience strategy in the context of communities who are experiencing or susceptible to the socio-ecological effects of environmental risk. The research will observe the emergence of local stories in the process of community narrative creation; its effect on place attachment and whether this process can empower to participate in future decisions affecting their local space. The research is primarily conducted within rural areas of the northern Netherlands, specifically the province of Groningen, where communities are affected by numerous socio-ecological factors as a result of environmental changes, including earthquakes, rising sea levels and a fragile rural economy. The ‘’Energy of Groningen” project will support communities to collaborate with local artists in order to formulate local narratives through creative means. The research takes an ethnographic approach utilizing data collection methods of participant observation and semi-structured interviews throughout the project lifecycle in order to explore the effects of the community narrative creation process on place attachment and community empowerment.
The research is underpinned by two Weberian philosophical principles: Verstehen and beurocracy, with the research adapting the conceptual planning framework of Jean Hilliers strategic navigation for narrative creation. This framework supports embracing uncertainty in an increasingly uncertain world and requires participants to iteratively ask critical reflective questions of their past and the present in order to navigate the journey to their “desired future”.