Urban Agriculture in Romania

11879645_1022934331074106_583476184_o-2This MSc thesis by Anamaria Alupoaie (MSc Organic Agriculture) investigated the reasons for failure of urban gardens, and the impacts of gardens on resident’s ‘sense of place’, in Dorohoi city in Romania.

Urban Agriculture plays a different role in the food system then agriculture in rural areas. In some cases, it represents a source of income or builds  sociological relations between citizens, through participation in the garden. In other cases, urban agriculture may originate from rural agricultural habits and traditions. With these inherited habits, urban farmers improve the existing environment through their practices, and with these practices they inspire others to take action in maintaining their own ‘green corners’ in the public space.

11882459_1022933601074179_396130938_oThe study was undertaken in Dorohoi region, a city situated on the north side of Romania, a small city with  31,093 inhabitants. In the last 20 years, the city experienced a period of decline due to the closure of big factories that offered jobs for more than half of the inhabitants. Since then the unemployment rate grew, and reached 80-85 %, in 2009. And it is estimated that now over 50% of the population lives below the country’s poverty line, as a result of the loss of the big industry. The availability of resources and income has triggered city dwellers to rely to a greater extent on local food production. Among the existing gardens, new ones started to flourish around the apartment buildings, in urban public spaces, and residents grew their edible greens. As such, in the area proposed for investigation, Dorohoi, urban agriculture continued through the communities of rural people that had moved into the urban center. They developed gardens in the green spaces of the city as a traditional habit inherited from their rural life. But this period of prosperity didn’t last, and about a decade ago, the city gardens were destroyed, with no significant grounds left. Continue reading

Sense of place in a neighbourhood in Groningen: request for a master student

The Rural Sociology Group is looking for a master student who is willing to do his or her master student in the city of Groningen. In Groningen an urban working group of citizens aims to establish an ecological walking route in their neighbourhood Helpman/Wijert. This working group needs support in their process. A group of students from Larenstein has already helped them with a plan and communication.

The aim is to involve the neighbourhood in an action-based explorative research approach, gain insight in the sense of place, values and motivations of the citizens and analyse if this can lead to agency and participation in the green development of this urban area.

This project is part of the wider programme of KIGO, ‘Green education in the city’, aimed at cooperation between educational institutions to enhance green knowledge and green education in the city. This means that the plan is to combine the work of the student with complementary research and implementation activities by other students from for example AOC Terra in Groningen. For this research one or more master students in social sciences are requested. The implementation and starting date of the project is flexible and can be further discussed with the local commissioner, chairman of the Working Group and with Frans Traa, coordinator of the KIGO programme.

Interested students can contact L.G. (Ina) Horlings, Rural Sociology Group, lummina.horlings@wur.nl.

Students invited for the course ‘A Global sense of place’

For whom?
We invite all master students interested in sustainable development, spatial development, community building, place-based policy, rural socio-logy and anthropology for this course.

What?
This course gives an overview of place-based approaches in development. A relational place-based approach is key to the understanding of interrelated rural and urban transformation processes and sustainable development. Places are considered as contingent but in time and space differentiated outcomes of three interrelated, unbounded, transformative processes: political-economic, ecological and social-cultural.
We will have discussions about:
• Sense of place
• Places as sites of negotiation and power struggles
• The constitution of identities, subjectivities and difference.
• Politics of place.

Why should you follow this course?
• Interesting international guest lectures (if enough students attend the course)
• Inter-disciplinary approach
• Urban and rural cases
• Interactive discussions in small groups

Some practical information:
Course code: RSO 55306; ECTS: 6, When: Period 2;
Lectures and Workshops on: Monday-, Tuesday-, Thursday- mornings.
Interested? For more information on the course see the detailed Course outline RSO-55306 (2012-2013) final

Course Global Sense of Place starting on October 29th!

For whom?

We invite all master students interested in sustainable development, spatial development, community building, place-based policy, rural socio-logy and anthropology for this course.

What?

This course gives an overview of place-based approaches in development. A relational place-based approach is key to the understanding of interrelated rural and urban transformation processes and sustainable development. Places are considered as contingent but in time and space differentiated outcomes of three interrelated, unbounded, transformative processes: political-economic, ecological and social-cultural.
We will have discussions about:

  • Sense of place
  • Places as sites of negotiation and power struggles
  • The constitution of identities, subjectivities and difference.
  • Politics of place.

Why should you follow this course?

  • Interesting international guest lectures (if enough students attend the course)
  • Inter-disciplinary approach
  • Urban and rural cases
  • Interactive discussions in small groups

Some practical information:

Course code: RSO 55306;   ECTS: 6,  When: Period 2;

Lectures and Workhops on: Monday-, Tuesday-, Thursday- mornings.

Interested? For more information on the course see the online study handbook or send  an email to L.G. Horlings: lummina.horlings@wur.nl. A detailed Course outline will be available soon.

A day in researching sense of place in the National Park “Galicica” in Macedonia

By Bojan Rantasa, MSc-student International Master of Rural Devleopment (IMRD)

Earlier I introduced my thesis research regarding the ‘Sense of place in Galicica national park‘. My research is coming to an end, but I am still cautious to speak of results prematurely. So I will share how my research days look like. Embarked on the mission to do a field research in the National Park “Galicica” in Macedonia, I begun packing my backpack: 

  • Field audio recorder. I will do open interviews with people, and writing notes whilst doing interviews is out of the question. First, if I write, I will have to pause the conversation and that will take a lot of time, and the person might forget what he or she was talking about, but most important, I am too lazy to write.
  • Photo camera. I am researching sense of place, and having visual records of the places is a must. At least this is how I see it.
  • Video camera. Photography is beautiful and my favourite art, but sometimes it does not say enough. Image and sound is compelling to more senses than just image.
  • Handheld GPS. I should not get lost, but it will also come handy in marking those places that people see important, and making a map of what I’ve researched, as places reside in locations.
  • Replacement batteries. I do not think that I will bump into a MediaMarkt shop behind that mountain peak.
  • Walking stick. It is a mountain, dogs wondering around, thorny bushes, and my left knee is not really in a good shape. Besides, this one has a ¼” screw on the top, so I can use it as a monopod for the camera.
  • Some snacks. I will spend a full day out.
  • Sun tan cream. I hope that there will be some sun today.
  • Toilet paper. No need to stress this importance.

Well, if people are not scared from my looks, I figure that means that they are open for a conversation on their sense of place. So I’m off on the first bus to the next village on my list. I arrive there around mid day. At this time only retired people are in the village. I walk around and I meet an old granny. But she refuses to speak with the recorder on. She says that afterwards someone might come to look for her. I, on the other hand, refuse to talk to her without the recorder. It is not only the issue of not noting all the detail of the conversation, but it is the issue that at a later stage of my research I will see some interesting correlation, something I might use to build a theory on. Now if I have only my written notes, I will not have this new thing noted. But if I have an audio recording of the conversation, I can check if there is really a pattern or something to relate to my new discovery in the interviews I’ve did in the past. Additionally, people that refuse to talk with the recorder on are people that have something to hide. So those people will tell me less or even lies, thus I can consider them as a misleading factor, or simply a waste of time. So I go my way. The granny did give me a boiled egg, as it was Eastern just yesterday, it will come in handy for my lunch later.

Continue reading

Sense of place in National Park Galicica – using new media in MSc-thesis research

By Bojan Rantasa, MSc-student International Master of Rural Development

Last Friday, 23 March 2012, I presented my MSc-thesis research proposal for fellow students and researchers of the Rural Sociology Group. My thesis research is titled “The Sense of Place of National Park Galicica” is part of my Msc-study International Master Rural Development (www.imrd.ugent.be). Joost Jongerden of the Rural Sociology Group is my sepervisor. My thesis presentation can be viewed at www.galicica.rantasa.net, a website on my thesis research where I will post research proceedings as well.

In my research I will use new media as tools for communication with the public but also as research method. I developed a website at the proposal stage of the research (www.galicica.rantasa.net). It enables dedicated communication with stakeholders and public, by offering updates on the research and a contact form. The web page also hosts the questionnaire on the sense of place of “Galicica”, thus becoming an important and integrated tool to the research. The information on the research currently presented on the web page is limited. This is not to lead the visitors of the web page, thus creating biased answers in the questionnaire.

To spread the questionnaire, I will use Facebook and targeted e-mail messages that are disseminated by the participants, causing a domino effect. This approach resulted in more than 50 completed questionnaires in the first week.

Continue reading