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Embodying and performing sustainability O'Shea, Margaret 2012

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Embodying and Performing Sustainability  by Margaret O’Shea  B.Sc., The University of Lethbridge, 2002 M.A., York University, 2004  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  Doctor of Philosophy in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Resource Management and Environmental Studies)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  September 2012 © Margaret O’Shea, 2012  Abstract This dissertation explores the theoretical and methodological implications of including embodiment and performance theory in sustainability theory and practice, and demonstrates the advantages and difficulties of embodied sustainability research in two case studies of communities performing sustainability practices. The potential influence of an embodied approach to participatory governance theory in light of the anticipated sustainability transition is also investigated. The fundamental characteristics of embodiment are determined and a performance typology derived from performance theory is developed to help guide case study analysis and interpretation. The first case study investigates the perceptions, actions, and possible transformations of members of a theatrical group who tour British Columbia by bicycle. The second case study recruits the creative participation of members of a recycling initiative in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in a photographic project designed to elicit their embodied experiences of sustainability within their daily actions. This research is premised on the argument that sustainability can be usefully conceived of as a property that emerges from collaborative practices and dialogue (i.e., procedural sustainability), rather than simply as a set of expert-defined imperatives (i.e., substantive sustainability). Incorporating the embodiment paradigm into research on sustainability suggests that such research should be interactive by way of active and creative participation by citizens. Furthermore, embodiment and sustainability are experienced as deeply socially and culturally embedded phenomena, which should be reflected in sustainability research through a strong integration of ecological, economic, social, and cultural concerns. Performance theory provides a theoretical frame and methodological direction that centres on the socially- and culturally-mediated experiencing body. Findings from the case studies, and application of findings to participatory governance theory, confirm that: framing sustainability as a procedurally emergent property of social practices is appropriate and productive at the community-scale; applying a performance lens to sustainability practices reveals complex performative dimensions of socially-situated embodied experience; and participatory processes for embodied engagement, specifically arts-based methods, have great potential to provide novel opportunities for engagement with governments and policy processes. ii  Preface Ethics certificate number H08-01602 was granted by the UBC Human Research Ethics Board for this study. An abridged version of chapter 3 has been published in an academic anthology. O’Shea, Meg. 2012. “Bikes, Choices, Action! Performances of sustainability by a travelling theater group.” in Readings in Performance and Ecology: An Anthology, edited by Wendy Aarons and Theresa May. Palgrave-Macmillan. I conducted all the empirical data collection and wrote the manuscript. Dr. John Robinson and Dr. Robert Sparks provided feedback and suggested revisions before publication. A version of chapter 5 has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. O’Shea, M. (2011). Arts Engagement with Sustainable Communities: Informing New Governance Styles for Sustainable Futures. Culture and Local Governance, 3(1), 29–41. I conducted all the empirical data collection and wrote the manuscript. Dr. John Robinson and Dr. Randy Lee Cutler provided feedback and suggested revisions before publication.  iii  Table of Contents Abstract ................................................................................................................................... ii Preface .................................................................................................................................... iii Table of Contents................................................................................................................... iv List of Figures ...................................................................................................................... viii Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................ ix Chapter 1: Introduction .........................................................................................................1 1.1 From causality to emergent practices of sustainability.................................................1 1.2 Defining the research....................................................................................................4 1.2.1 A brief map of theory ............................................................................................4 1.2.2 Research questions...............................................................................................10 1.2.3 Description of empirical work .............................................................................11 1.3 Description of the dissertation ....................................................................................13 1.3.1 What the reader can expect..................................................................................13 1.3.2 Structure of the dissertation .................................................................................15 Chapter 2: Embodying and performing sustainability .....................................................19 2.1 Introduction.................................................................................................................19 2.2 Shifting paradigms......................................................................................................19 2.2.1 From conventional behaviour change for sustainability…..................................20 2.2.2 To strong procedural sustainability and social practices .....................................22 2.3 Embodied practices of sustainability ..........................................................................24 2.3.1 Are we disembodied? ..........................................................................................25 2.3.2 We are embodied…how? ....................................................................................29  iv  2.3.3 Meaning is created in interaction with the material world ..................................30 2.3.4 Characteristics of embodiment ............................................................................35 2.4 Performance theory values corporeality and practices ...............................................40 2.4.1 Structured analysis from performance studies.....................................................43 2.5 Social practices of sustainability are embodied and performative .............................48 2.5.1 The subversive power of performative iteration..................................................49 2.5.2 Sustainability practices invoke and span space and time ....................................50 2.5.3 Empathic understanding, connectivity.................................................................51 2.6 Where does this take us?.............................................................................................52 2.6.1 Empirical work and case selection ......................................................................52 Chapter 3: Bikes, choices, action! Performances of sustainability by a travelling theatre group .......................................................................................................................................54 3.1 Introduction.................................................................................................................54 3.1.1 The Otesha Project performing and cycling tour.................................................56 3.2 Embodying and performing sustainability, on stage and off......................................58 3.2.1 Material-environmental influences......................................................................59 3.2.2 Adaptability and improvisation ...........................................................................66 3.2.3 Tensions in transformation ..................................................................................69 3.3 Setting the stage for sustainability..............................................................................73 3.4 Conclusion ..................................................................................................................79 Chapter 4: Exposing embodied sustainability in the UBU cart program .......................81 4.1 Introduction.................................................................................................................81 4.1.1 United We Can and the UBU cart program.........................................................82  v  4.2 Embodied research methods .......................................................................................85 4.3 Visual arts-based methodology...................................................................................90 4.3.1 Photographic method ...........................................................................................92 4.4 Seeing sustainability as performed .............................................................................95 4.4.1 Re-materializing patterns of practice...................................................................96 4.4.2 Affording practices with carts and cameras.......................................................102 4.4.3 Material entanglements......................................................................................107 4.4.4 Agents of change ...............................................................................................112 4.5 A comment on aesthetics ..........................................................................................114 4.6 Conclusion ................................................................................................................117 Chapter 5: New forms of participation in governance for sustainability......................121 5.1 Introduction...............................................................................................................121 5.2 Culture and cultural capital.......................................................................................123 5.3 Governance for sustainability ...................................................................................128 5.4 Arts inquiry and practice informs new styles of governance ...................................132 5.5 Lessons from arts engagement with communities....................................................133 5.5.1 Theatre for sustainability – The Otesha Project ................................................133 5.5.2 Photography as inquiry – UBU cart program ....................................................136 5.6 Conclusions...............................................................................................................140 Chapter 6: Conclusion........................................................................................................143 6.1 Introduction...............................................................................................................143 6.2 Summary of the dissertation .....................................................................................144 6.2.1 Supportive structures in this dissertation...........................................................144  vi  6.2.2 Summary of case studies and key findings........................................................146 6.3 Revisiting the research questions..............................................................................148 6.4 Delineations and suggestions for future research .....................................................154 6.4.1 Case selection ....................................................................................................155 6.4.2 Marginality of embodiment ...............................................................................156 6.4.3 Demands of academic production .....................................................................158 References.............................................................................................................................161  vii  List of Figures Figure 2.1 A graphical representation of the relationships of influence between Performance Properties, Elements, and Concepts and Abstractions...............................................47 Figure 4.1 The Urban Binning Unit cart can be wheeled by hand or attached to a bicycle ....84 Figure 4.2 DB cleaning up the recycling room at a condo tower pick up. ...............................97 Figure 4.3 A clean and organized pick up, and an unclean and dangerous pick up. ...............98 Figure 4.4 Stairs in the building where MB rents a room. .....................................................100 Figure 4.5 The entrance to DB’s small room in a low-income housing project.....................101 Figure 4.6 KP’s images follow the bag of cans from her home by bus and skytrain to the workplace. ................................................................................................................102 Figure 4.7 MB in the left image brandishing a weapon, in the right image using it as a binning aide. ..........................................................................................................................106 Figure 4.8 DB shown at a bar pick up where he must carry full bins outside to his cart. ......109 Figure 4.9 DB and GP wheeling the cart between cubicle walls in the workplace with ease 110 Figure 4.10 This image is an example of the beauty and artistry evident in some of the images produced. .....................................................................................................116 Figure 4.11 DB mugging for the camera. The image will make an excellent publicity shot for a pamphlet. ...............................................................................................................117 Figure 5.1 The image on the left shows MB as threatening. The image on the right shows him using the sharpened club to retrieve garbage bags from a dumpster. ......................138 Figure 5.2 This series of images shows a bag of cans and bottles being transported from home by bus and subway to the workplace. ............................................................139  viii  Acknowledgements My dissertation is a community performance. It has taken the support, encouragement, advice, and friendship of so many people to come together in this final form, and I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the communities who have played a role. First and foremost, I am deeply indebted to the participants from both case study communities. They generously gave of their time and their selves to a study that was difficult to describe and, I suspect, daunting in its request to share their most embodied, visceral, and therefore personal experiences. Those who couldn’t share this with me, didn’t. But those who could were candid and enthusiastic – a rare and valued combination. Without them there would be no accounts, no anecdotes, and no light relief. I am very grateful. To John Robinson, my supervisor and sustainability compass. You have directed my work in unexpected ways, some delightful and others testing the strength of my abilities. I thank you sincerely for the depth of your engagement with my work that I hope also challenged some of your own conceptions of yourself in the world. Your steadfast support and insightful conversations always appeared at just the right moment, so I can forgive the grilling you gave each theoretical move, especially since the results are all the better for it. To the members of my committee: Dr. Stephen Sheppard, who is unfailingly supportive while being equally critical. Dr. Randy Lee Cutler, whose deeply embodied insights and high standards kept me constantly on my toes and on task. And Dr. Robert Sparks, who has had a profound effect on the substance and tone of my work. You have each added a particular, situated, and personal dimension to my PhD experience and to the dissertation. Without each of your positions to push up against and bounce off from, the final text would be a very different beast indeed. It is still a beast, of sorts, but I hope one in which you can all see some elements of your own thoughtful disposition and curiosity that has been so valuable to me. Thank you for your enduring support and willingness to jump in with both feet when I needed you most. On the way to this degree, many others have inspired and encouraged me, and I would like to acknowledge the support of Lisa Doolittle in particular who helped steal me away from chemistry and taught me how to dance in my professional, academic, and personal life. Thank you for being a wonderful mentor. ix  To all my friends near and distant, colleagues, members of the G7, late night work companions in thesis submission solidarity, and especially running partners (Jane, you know who you are!): this has been a marathon effort. You provided watering stations, first aid, cheering sections, and mental toughness when I couldn’t provide my own. I’m so grateful to have met many of you through IRES, and to have kept some of you since U of L, even St. Francis Junior High. Without you there would be no spontaneous dance parties, no road trips, and no cocktail hours. What kind of life would that be? Thankfully, we will never have to find out. Jane Lister, Jana Kotaska, Julia Freeman, and Tom Berkhout, my most present and most adored doctoral companions, I have loved traipsing through these academic moors with you. Jennifer Karmona, Lara Hoshizaki, Laura DeVries, Helen and Francis Reis, the good times would never be as good without your enthusiastic friendship. To my family. You have always challenged me to live up to our shared expectations of what it is to live a good life while working with purpose and integrity. Thank you for your guidance, advice, and for letting me get on with being me. These years of my doctoral work have also included many family milestones and fond memories, and for me these will always be entwined with the work I have accomplished. Thank you for being just the family I need and all the family I want. To Shane. Thank you for everything. I don’t know that I can possibly say anything else that means more.  x  Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1  From causality to emergent practices of sustainability  It is now widely accepted among scientists and concerned citizens that in order to meet the challenges of climate change and avoid dramatic negative effects to human, plant and animal life, widespread and large scale changes will be necessary across all dimensions of life and society. The call for action against increasing anthropogenic environmental damage and global climate change has become increasingly urgent over the last three decades. Research in natural sciences, engineering and technology innovation has risen to the occasion, improving energy efficiency, renewable resource technologies, ‘cleaner’ productions and methods of production, and other technological fixes. Social sciences, on the other hand, have focussed efforts on understanding human behaviour with the aim to promote and facilitate behaviour change to achieve a more sustainable future. Unfortunately these conventional studies of what motivates behaviour change for sustainability, and campaigns for change premised on the results of those studies, have not produced change of the magnitude that is being called for (Burgess, C. M. Harrison, and Filius 1998; Owens 2000; Owens and Driffill 2008). Conventional studies of behaviour depict the relationship between our motivations, intentions, and resultant behaviour as a linear and rational process, such that actions are the result of knowledge informing and shaping our attitudes (A), which in turn influence what behaviours (B) we choose (C) to undertake (Shove 2010). The ABC model, as it is called, is a direct derivative of the rational choice model of behaviour most often referenced in Ajzen’s (1985, 1991) theory of planned behaviour. The linearity and causality inherent to the rational choice model indicate that the task of changing behaviour should be quite a simple one: influence the antecedents and you have influenced behaviour. Since knowledge (or information) is influential in the formation of attitudes in this model, providing people with good information on why and how to behave more sustainably should produce a strong rate of change. This is known as the information deficit model and it has remained the most prevalent strategy for promoting behaviour change for sustainability (Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002). Its prominence is likely due, at least in part, to an obvious good fit with 1  straightforward policy design (Shove 2010; Hargreaves 2011). The paucity of behaviour change as a result of the rational and causal ABC model of behaviour and the information deficit strategy for effecting change clearly indicates that in order to achieve substantive changes in the patterns of how we live we must look for alternative conceptions and strategies that go beyond the cognitive bias of these models. The limitations of the ABC model of human behaviour and the concomitant dominant strategy employed to create behaviour change are, perhaps obviously, a result of oversimplification of the human experience. In this dissertation I take as my starting point the fact that life is highly complex, with myriad concerns and drivers for our choices constantly interacting and competing. Thus instead of focusing on behaviour, or on how to change behaviour, I embrace the complexity of human life as it plays out in simultaneously social and physical realms and choose instead to focus on the practices of sustainability that emerge within social groups in particular physical contexts. The aim here is not to propose a different or better strategy for promoting behaviour change from those outlined above, but instead to take a different approach to researching what sustainability is and how we might achieve it, an approach that respects diversity within a population and the possibility of emergent or unexpected solutions. One strategy for such work might lie in taking a more procedural approach to sustainability. The most common formulations of sustainability tend to focus on the substantive dimensions of sustainaility goals, often expressed, for example in terms of scientifically-defined limits such as carrying capacity, that represent expert-driven, top-down constructions of sustainability that define the necessary measures all people must undertake to achieve them. Recent work by Robinson (2004, 2003), Robinson and Tansey (2006), Tansey et al. (2002) and Carmichael et al. (2004; 2005), takes a more procedural approach and suggests that sustainability “can usefully be thought of as the emergent property of a conversation about desired futures that is informed by some understanding of the ecological, social and economic consequences of different courses of action” (Robinson 2004:381). Theirs is a complex systems approach that stresses the emergent nature of sustainability as a concept, and depends on the beliefs and values of many to collectively shape the sustainable future, and, by the principles of backcasting (Robinson 2003), to work backwards from the desired 2  future collectively described to the present time in order to identify barriers and opportunities and to determine the appropriate path forward. Sustainability, in this view, is not a purely scientific concept but a normative ethical principle, which relies on scientific evidence as to the consequences of different choices, but is inherently social and political. As an emergent property of collaborative discourse and practices, sustainability is adaptive and always evolving. While information of various kinds plays a critical role in the determination of desired courses of action, the emergent and normative nature of sustainability requires a culturally and socially mediated process of decision-making and action (Robinson 2004). In reaction to the perceived limitations of the rational choice model of behaviour, and similar in many ways to the emergent model of sustainability championed by Robinson, a school of social research has developed, called social practice theory, that shares the integrative and adaptive approach of emergent sustainability and specifically aims to move beyond cognition-heavy models of behaviour to emphasise the importance of everyday, embodied practices in shaping change trajectories. Social practice theory, which evolves from the work of Giddens (1986) and Bourdieu (Bourdieu and Nice 1984; 1977), seeks out the everyday routines and actions that emerge from patterns of our social, cultural, and material entanglements (Shove and Pantzar 2005; Shove and Walker 2010; Hargreaves 2011; Warde 2005). A practice “is a routinized (sic) type of behaviour which consists of several elements, interconnected to one another: forms of bodily activities, forms of mental activities, ‘things’ and their use, a background knowledge in the form of understanding, know-how, states of emotion and motivational knowledge” (Reckwitz 2002:249). In this dissertation, the term practice will always appear in this context, denoting a trend in collective action that emerges from the day-to-day actions of individuals. Crucially for my project, social practice theory values the embodied nature of our actions and experiences, holding the material engagements we have with the world on equal billing (and in constant evolution) with social and cultural dimensions of life. This is consistent with viewing sustainability as a normative and emergent principle that is deeply embedded in the collaborative context of social life. From a sustainability standpoint, then, rather than seeking to change behaviour through provision of better scientific information (an individualistic, and often context-deprived concept (Shove 2010)), perhaps we should work to create sustainable social practices through 3  which the ecological, economic, social, and cultural imperatives of sustainability are all addressed via embodied praxis. This goal will be achieved if everyday practices, ‘ways of operating’ or doing things, no longer appear as merely the obscure background of social activity, and if a body of theoretical questions, methods, categories, and perspectives, by penetrating this obscurity, make it possible to articulate them. (de Certeau 1984:xi) By acknowledging, and acting upon, our already existing embodiment as it relates to the sustainability transition we might develop a more grounded understanding of how sustainability practices emerge, disperse, and potentially fall apart for, as Hargreaves states, “generating more sustainable practices calls for the links and elements of existing, unsustainable practices to be challenged and broken before being replaced and re-made in more sustainable ways” (2011:83; see also Shove and Walker 2010). As Warde attests, “practices, (…) are logically and ontologically prior to action” (2004:5), meaning social practices are patterns of behaviours that form and are formed by social norms and cultural contexts. Because social practices emerge from lived bodily action, this suggests that sustainability is culturally, socially, and bodily mediated, therefore the embodied nature of emergent social practices for sustainability is of paramount importance and interest. My dissertation project investigates the embodied dimensions of sustainability, and suggests some ways to incorporate embodiment into sustainability-related work. 1.2  Defining the research  The following sub-sections specify the theory I use to make sense of the embodiment problem in sustainability studies, the research questions that emerge from my theoretical investigations, and the empirical work I undertook in seeking to answer – or at least to better understand – my research questions. 1.2.1  A brief map of theory  The dissertation as a whole, and particularly the main theoretical chapter (Chapter 2) is written for an audience of sustainability professionals. I aim to articulate what I see as a missing piece in sustainability-oriented work, our acknowledged and always present embodiment, and to render embodiment and performance comprehensible and valid to 4  sustainability professionals. To achieve this aim I defend the inclusion of the embodiment paradigm in sustainability research, propose performance studies as an advantageous starting point for embodied studies of sustainability, present two case studies of using an embodied approach to study sustainability practices (borrowing theory and methods from performance studies), and reflect on the process, experience, and outcomes resulting from this approach. The majority of literature on behaviour change for sustainability emerges from studies in behavioural economics and psychological studies of behaviour (Wilson and Dowlatabadi 2007). While these behaviour rationales (economic motivations, and psychological and/or social characteristics that predict behaviour) do describe and explain some drivers of behaviour, they focus primarily on cognitive processes and do not explore the intimate lived space of human engagement with the world (Merleau-Ponty 2002). Pro-sustainability efforts often encounter the problem that many people who claim to hold pro-environmental values do not act in accordance with their values. This well-documented effect is termed the valuesaction gap (Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002). From this discrepancy we learn that something is missing from the picture of how our practices change and that there is indeed potential for the intimate lived space of sustainability to animate work toward a sustainable future. First we must get to the heart of the matter, the heart of our matter. Some scholars argue that as a society we have become disembodied from the earth’s systems as a result of social and technological innovation, and that to become re-embodied we must rebuild awareness and attunement to the natural systems of the earth (Abram 1997; Berman 1984, 1990; Hay 2005). I argue against their assertion that we are disembodied, referencing research in anthropology (e.g., Ingold 2011), human geography (e.g., Whatmore 2006; Thrift and Dewsbury 2000; Thrift 1999; Harrison 2000), the psychology of perception (Gibson 1979; Heft 1989), philosophy (e.g., Johnson 1999; Merleau-Ponty 2002), feminist studies (e.g., Butler 1993, 2004; Grosz 1994), and cognitive science (e.g., H. Dreyfus and S. Dreyfus 1999; Lakoff and Johnson 1999), to assert that all human processes of knowing and understanding begin in the body and through bodily encounters with the world. So although I disagree with critics such as Berman and Abram that we have become more progressively blind to our embodied state, and go to some lengths in Chapter 2 to dispel their argument, I do agree that social, technological, and cultural shifts in past centuries have contributed to our current society 5  stressing the importance of primarily cognitive exchange and the scientization of knowledge, and undervaluing the intimate lived experience of life, particularly in processes such as policy design. As a result, my approach is not to needlessly re-embody already and always embodied beings, but instead to attempt to influence the processes that, in part, shape our collective future by calling attention to what I see as a significant and perilous omission of our embodied state. Having argued that our embodiment is innate and fundamental to how we understand and interact with the world, I must clearly articulate for my reader what this slippery thing I call ‘embodiment’ really is, and how it influences our material, social, and cultural interactions. In the following excerpt, Harrison (2000) proficiently describes the strange relationship we experience between the grounded, bodily basis of embodiment and the transcendent and integrative sense of being embodied: By the ‘sensate’ I do not quite mean the body, though this is obviously part of the sensuous, nor am I referring to pure sense data coming from outside the self. Rather I wish to consider the sensate as something much closer to a form of knowing and being in everyday life. (…) It is something that being on the ‘edge of semantic availability’ is at the edge of ourselves; it is the relation to an outside and constitutes the surface on which we dwell in everyday life. (2000:499) Through a strategic literature review, I determine six fundamental characteristics of embodiment. •  Embodiment is corporeal but not exclusively so, in that the structure of the body frames our experience and perception of the world while retreating from our immediate attention out of necessity (P. Harrison 2000; Merleau-Ponty 2002).  •  Embodiment is synaesthetic and we encounter the world as a cascade of simultaneous stimuli of “sensuous abundance, ambiguity and redundancy” (Rodaway 1994:11; also see Crouch 2001; Hetherington 2003).  •  Embodiment is dialogic in that our sense of who and what we are as embodied beings is constantly in the process of becoming through interactions with surfaces, things, animals, and people (Whatmore 2006; Langer 1990; Abram 1997). 6  •  Our embodiment is historicized by our ability to bring personal and collective past experiences to bear on present and future experiences (Butler 2004; Grosz 1999).  •  Embodiment is mobile in space and time because although we come to new encounters with a past and an established frame of reference, embodiment is susceptible to the particulars of a location in space-time and evolves in response (Langer 1990; Merleau-Ponty 2002).  •  And finally, the emotional register of our lives is simultaneously social and biophysical, thus embodiment is affective (Milton 2002; Lupton 1998).  In order to study sustainability practices in a way that honours and embraces the full potential of an embodied approach, I turn to performance studies, an established yet still emerging discipline that takes as its subject the mobile, emotional, social, political, and material body. Performance theory provides a comprehensive frame for studying human experiences in which social, material, and cultural concerns all bear weight (Schechner 1998). Furthermore, performance studies provides a theoretical basis for using methods for engagement that inspire creativity and reflection (Thrift and Dewsbury 2000; Conquergood 2002). Arts-based methods, that is methods that invite participants to explore the topic of study through a process of artistic inquiry such as painting, choreography, or, as in this dissertation, theatre and photography, result in artistic products with more or less aesthetic value, but the process of engaging creatively through artistic inquiry is the major advantage and intention when selecting arts-based methods for engagement. In this case the participants perform as artists for the duration of their involvement with the study, adding another analytic layer to the study of social practices. To structure the complex and nuanced analysis, I derive a taxonomic structure of the dimensions of performance from a broad review of performance studies literature and publications in other fields that have employed performance theory and methods. This structure acts as a framing device for analyzing the results of the empirical work in the case studies of this dissertation. To begin to invest sustainability research with embodiment, we should put the body – and all our embodied social, cultural, and material practices – in the spotlight of the theoretical and methodological tools we employ. Performance theory, developed in the adaptive discipline of performance studies in which the mobile human body is the central unit of analysis, provides 7  theory and research strategies that can be used to bridge the sometimes surprisingly abstruse literature on embodiment and the actual, lived practices of sustainability. Performance theory offers a relational, non-representationalist lens on human experience that re-centres the human body as the first mode of engagement with the world (David Crouch 2001; Hetherington 2003; Nash 2000; Thrift 1996; Thrift and Dewsbury 2000). The theory (though it is inaccurate to treat the range of performance-related academic work as a unified and bounded entity) with which I engage in this dissertation originated in theatre studies (see for example Schechner 1998, 2002; Turner 1980) but found fertile ground for evolution and application in feminist studies (Butler 1993, 2004; Gregson and G. Rose 2000; Nash 2000) and human geography (for example Thrift 2004; Thrift and Dewsbury 2000; Whatmore 2006) and now is used in numerous social science and humanities disciplines. Performance theory is a potentially powerful tool for framing and analyzing embodied experience because it foregrounds relational knowing, values the body as the expressive and engaging site, and allows for multiplicity and fluidity of the subject. Fortuitously, social practice theory already employs some of the language of performance theory, calling real world actions performances of practices. But to avoid confusing the reader too much, in this dissertation I will generally use the term performance in the context of performance theory, meaning the term performance indicates an event in which there is an actor, an audience, and a setting. The term performance does not only refer to theatrical staged performance, but also to more everyday actions that we take and that we perceive others taking. A similar term, performative, occurs regularly in this dissertation; it is used to describe an action or event that could be interpreted as a performance, meaning it is being done for an audience or at the very least it invokes an audience. For example, in Chapter 2 I write, “the process of making sense through language is itself creative and performative”. In this instance, I describe the process of using language to create understanding as one that is inherently relational, requiring an actor (or author) and an audience (or reader). My use of performative is not to be confused with Judith Butler’s concept of performativity in which she suggests that people hold preexisting identities that are manifested through their iterative performance in day-to-day interactions (1990, 1993, 2004). In this dissertation, performative is used only to call up a sense of performance, to indicate the presence of both an actor and audience. Performativity, on the other hand, calls up a much broader discussion of agency, 8  power, intention, and social presence, which will be discussed in Chapter 2. Social practice theory “relocates social agency in practice or performance rather than discourse – thinking and acting through the body – and reworks discourse itself as a specific kind of practice” (Whatmore 2006:603–4). This move is entirely compatible with the strong emergent form of sustainability (Robinson 2004) where sustainability itself is located in the practices and performances of people as they navigate physical and social worlds. This dissertation is a small effort toward the greater task of linking embodied experiences in the everyday to larger shifts in collective practices, thus tracing global trends through the bodily phenomena that shape them. By this I mean to say that although our actions and embodied practices in our daily lives operate on a minute scale in comparison to the vast scale of global trends, they directly contribute to the emergence, maintenance, and ultimate dissolution of collective practices at a very large scale, and these practices are deeply entwined with the physical materials that make up the world around us. I share the aim of anthropologist Tim Ingold who hopes to shift studies of material culture away from a focus on the purely dichotomous phenomena of production and consumption, “towards a better appreciation of the material flows and currents of sensory awareness within which both ideas and things reciprocally take shape” (2011:10). Ingold’s work, and this dissertation, are strong examples of research in the ‘material turn’ as Whatmore (2006) describes it: the shift of focus in numerous fields of study to the material interactions, properties, and entanglements that make up our lived experience. She states, This return to the livingness of the world shifts the register of materiality from the indifferent stuff of a world ‘out there’, articulated through notions of ‘land’, ‘nature’, ‘environment’, to the intimate fabric of corporeality that includes and redistributes the ‘in here’ of human being. (Whatmore 2006:602) This kind of endeavour, this kind of study that meaningfully embraces the bumps and jolts and caresses and aromas – the very sensations that make up a life lived in the world – must be done differently because traditional or conventional academic study does not take an embodied approach. To be alternative to the conventional modes of academic production, I aim to work with people in the community they inhabit (not one defined for the purposes of 9  the study), and I aim to collaboratively build understanding of how in that community the social practices of sustainability are embodied, and what relevance this has for improved sustainability-related work. This reflects the role of emergence in my theory of embodiment, which is also foundational to the procedural mode of sustainability. Similarly, in line with the materialist turn, situating our human experience amidst and alongside other beings and things in the world where all people and things are in a constant state of becoming is an “attempt to hold onto the relational and emergent imperatives of material force in which the ‘thing-ness of things’ – bodies, objects, arrangements – are always in-the-making and ‘humans are always in composition with nonhumanity, never outside of a sticky web of connections or an ecology [of matter]” (Whatmore 2006:603, citing Bennett 2004:365). This approach requires an actively engaged, mobile subject and a reflexive researcher, who together grow and learn over time and whose engagement influences the (uncertain and fluid) outcome of the study (Rodaway 1994:15–16). When posed against more positivist and/or quantifiable approaches to the study of human practices, Hargreaves suggests this qualitative, emergent and creative approach “leads to richer and more subtle accounts of action in context that, whilst more modest, might also be more valuable” (Hargreaves 2011:85). 1.2.2  Research questions  The overarching research questions that guide the theoretical review, the empirical design, and the findings presented in the dissertation are as follows. (1)  What are the potential contributions of theories of embodiment and performance to sustainability theory and practice?  (2)  How can performance theory be harnessed to help understand embodied experiences of intentionally sustainability-related practices?  (3)  What, if any, is the relationship between performances of pro-sustainability behaviours in a rehearsed theatrical play and sustainability practices in the everyday realm?  10  (4)  Can an arts-based method for data generation draw out or capture the embodied experience of sustainability in a useful and meaningful way?  1.2.3  Description of empirical work  To explore the relationship of embodiment to sustainability, I study people performing sustainability-related behaviours and engage them with activities and interview questions designed to gain insight into their embodied experiences of sustainability practices (moving from taking behaviour as the single unit of analysis to performances that emerge from collective social practices). The empirical work occurred and is presented in two case studies, the first with a bicycling theatre group and the second with members of a socially motivated recycling initiative. Analysis of the interviews, videos, photographs, and observational notes generated in this study was accomplished through application of the performance typology developed and described in Chapter 2 as a structuring device to locate instances of performance concepts, materials, and practices in the data. While I used the performance typology to guide my initial analysis, I remained open to emergent or unanticipated phenomena related in the participants’ experiences. Although the primary unit of analysis is a practice (observed as an embodied performance) as per social practice theory, I loosely coded the various texts1 produced through engagement with study participants. This blended approach follows the analytic of interpretive practice that seeks to combine the traditions of discourse analysis and ethnomethodology and results in an analytical method that is “more like a skilled juggling act, alternately concentrating on the myriad hows and whats of everyday life” (Holstein and Gubrium 2005:496). In the first case study, I engage with The Otesha Project (www.otesha.ca), a group of youth who tour by bicycle and perform a play to audiences about making consumer choices. In the summer of 2008 I met up with The Otesha Project Sunshine Coast Tour group in the last week of their two-month tour around the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. I made video recordings of their performance of their play, “Reason To Dream”, on 1  I use the term ‘text’ here in the manner of feminist scholarship that denotes all things which can be ‘read’ as texts including, of course, actual written and spoken words. This can include, for example, bodily dispositions that are ‘read’ by the observing researcher, visualizations such as photographs or paintings analyzed for their visual elements and what they disclose, and the term ‘text’ has also been applied to the human body as a thing inscribed with cultural and social meaning (see for example Bordo and Heywood 1993). 11  two subsequent nights, recorded observational fieldnotes while spending time with them around their campsite, and spoke with five of the eleven members of the tour and one tour organiser (at The Otesha Project headquarters in Ottawa) in semi-structured, open-ended interviews by phone in the months following their tour. In this dissertation I advocate for sustainability studies to adopt new research methods that embrace the embodiment paradigm, calling upon study participants to contribute collectively and creatively to the research process. Members of The Otesha Project took on this level of creative inquiry when they joined the tour and accepted the tasks of performing on stage and off stage and navigating the complex dynamics of being part of an intentional community. Although the group members act on stage in the play, this explicitly theatrical performance is not the only way in which they perform sustainability. They also perform as role models for people they encounter along the tour; they perform as audience members and sounding boards for fellow tour members; they perform as research subjects for my study. Their longterm engagement with the multifaceted performative nature of sustainability practices over the tour establishes their collective and creative involvement in these kinds of research questions, and I was able to interview group members and observe their negotiated sustainability practices without requesting of them additional work in the name of research. Thanks to their persistent engagement with performance in both theatrical and colloquial environments and their commitment to reflexive participation in their small community over many weeks, my use of conventional research methods (observation and interview) is not inconsistent with the strong call for novel research methods that go beyond talk and text to address embodied experience. The multiplicity of performance in their community is analyzed through the lens of performance theory, which enables me to categorize instances of their practices that occur at the intersection of embodiment and sustainability praxis. It is particularly interesting how sustainability praxis occurs on stage and/or off stage, and whether or not it translates between the two forums for performance, and where the forums blend, overlap, and interfere in the experiences of tour members. The second case study involves members of a recycling initiative whose everyday actions as part of an urban recycling project are inherently sustainability-oriented. In this second case study, I do adopt research methods that go beyond talk and text to more fully engage study 12  participants in creative praxis and reflexive processes. Through a participatory, photographic research methodology designed to foreground their embodied experiences of sustainability, these research participants also perform in multiple ways: as creative photographers, as research subjects, as active members of the recycling initiative, and as individuals who choose to participate in sustainability practices. The arts-based methodology allows study participants to contribute creatively to the research project just as the actors in The Otesha Project contribute creatively by acting on stage. But unlike subjects in the first case study, members of the recycling initiative are not intentionally performing for an audience as part of their daily duties – that is, until they pick up the camera to perform as documentarians and their practices may shift slightly as a result of having an assumed audience. Three employees of the recycling initiative and three employees of participating businesses carried disposable cameras for approximately three weeks. Following the photographic project, I conducted semi-structured, open-ended interviews with each photographer based loosely around the images they produced. The performance theory approach developed in Chapter 2 and explicitly engaged with in first case study, is applied as an analytic tool to the images and interviews collected in the second case study with the aim of identifying and better understanding key elements of settings and motivations that are part of the fabric of social practices that make up this specific initiative. 1.3  Description of the dissertation  The following sub-sections explain the research approach I used in this dissertation, delineate the boundaries of my research project, and provide an outline of the dissertation including a brief synopsis of each chapter. 1.3.1  What the reader can expect  The findings established from studying the practices and perspectives of study participants are relevant primarily to their unique situations and populations. It is my aim in this study to particularize rather than to universalize the findings I derive from these two specific case studies. Through their participation in the research study, participants gain insight into their relationships, values, and motivations for action. Unique to the second case study, as a result of the photographic project various potential modifications are identified that the recycling program could implement to expand the business and improve working conditions for the 13  people involved. While these are positive outcomes from engaging with community members for the purposes of the research, the overall goal of the dissertation is to describe the contextual richness of the ways these community members embody sustainability in their everyday practices. While much sustainability-oriented research is designed to quantify and specify the steps necessary to achieve a sustainable future, this dissertation contributes new qualitative participatory research on situated embodied social practices, which is a significantly understudied dimension of sustainability. I focus my analysis of sustainability practices at the level of social action, highlighting relations between the embodied practices of participants with other members of their communities (near and far) and their material environments. In this way the dissertation presents a ‘view from below’ that seeks to illuminate actions and interactions around sustainability that might be lost in a broader scale analysis that takes a ‘view from above’. For example, another promising angle for analysis of this project is the discourses of power that run through and beyond the two groups who form my case studies. While framing social action for sustainability as a set of practices deeply embedded in power relations would, I am sure, reveal fascinating insights on how sustainability practices develop, spread, and dissolve, power discourse is inherently a scale of study well beyond the human bodily experience. From the standpoint of social practice theory that I adopt in this dissertation, the discourse of power is relevant only in so far as the participants experience and relate it to me. Significantly, the people who contributed to this study did not raise issues of power during our time together, nor did their statements or actions lead me to believe it was a necessary avenue of investigation. Therefore not only was my goal to focus rather exclusively on the bodily practices that emerge from collective negotiation of what sustainability really is on the ground, so to speak, but moreover the empirical data did not lead me to conclude that the discourse of power was an appropriate analytical framing of practices in these two communities. Specifically, I seek to engage the literatures of performance theory, embodiment, and sustainability practices, and to attempt a synthesis of these areas to be included in sustainability theory and practice more generally. The translation of the embodiment paradigm across select academic cultures as it relates to sustainability efforts is therefore a 14  novel contribution of this dissertation to academic literature. Traditionally, these different literatures have tended to be read by different academic groups. By discussing these frameworks conjointly in the context of sustainability, I am hoping to appeal to readers in each of these areas to take a fresh look at the intersections of their fields. Abridged versions of Chapters 3 and 5 have been published in an academic anthology in performance studies (O’Shea 2012), and a peer-reviewed academic journal focused on governance (O’Shea 2011), respectively. In the dissertation, these chapters are lightly revised and expanded versions of the published articles in order to meet the format requirements of a dissertation, but some critical distinctions in focus and language suitable for particular audiences are retained in order that the reader of the dissertation can get a sense of the translation necessary across the relevant academic cultures. Throughout the dissertation, I tend to employ the first person point of view, which reflects my partial and subjective situated perspective (Haraway 1988), and is in keeping with the self-reflexive and self-referential nature of my approach. As a researcher, I am deeply embedded in the research narrative and while my personal interests and life experiences have driven me to study the complexities and synergies of embodiment and sustainability, they have also shaped the perceiver and actor that I am – a fact that cannot be disambiguated from the results of this research. I employ the first person perspective to draw the reader into my experience as a researcher and to remind the reader that as a writer I present a particular, subjective and necessarily partial interpretation of the events reported in the dissertation. 1.3.2  Structure of the dissertation  Over the course of four main chapters and a concluding chapter, I hope to demonstrate that using embodied methods in the study of sustainability practices is a valuable approach. My application of embodiment to sustainability studies emerges from existing literatures in diverse fields of study on human bodies. I marshal performance theory developed in the performance studies field to gain a foothold in body-situated research and analytic methods. In this way, my research stands on the shoulders of others before me who strongly value our capacity for embodied perception and communication and seek to incorporate these more subtle modes of understanding into academic research.  15  As a response to the remarkably disembodied approach to sustainability I perceive in the majority of publications and campaigns about the sustainability transition, I begin the dissertation by arguing in Chapter 2 that we are inherently embodied beings and that our embodiment must strongly inform the work we do for sustainability, not least because a sustainable future is completely dependent on the physical relationship between our bodies and the physical earth. Drawing on research by philosophers, sociologists, neuroscientists, and clinical psychologists, I argue that we first make sense of the world through bodily interactions with things, people, and places around us. This position establishes the fundamental basis for an embodied approach to study social practices for sustainability and in aid of this I define the embodiment paradigm. The insight that our embodied nature is central to the ways we create meaning, the ways we perceive, and the ways we act and communicate, has deep implications for the ways that we should study meaning, perception, action, and communication within the sustainability context. In order to address the methodological implications of this position, I turn to creative methods of expression and inquiry as found in the arts. Chapter 2 concludes by tracing some linkages between the embodiment paradigm and the analytical power of performance theory, and exploring the potential for this approach to influence research on sustainability. In developing empirical work that appropriately responds to the questions and issues raised in Chapter 2 and that represents the paradigm shift I propose in this dissertation, I take a twostage approach. I first test the validity and rigour of applying a performance lens to sustainability practices by staying close to the primary subject of performance studies, theatrical performance. To this end I studied The Otesha Project, a youth group who perform a play about making climate conscious consumer choices for diverse audiences while performing as sustainability activists by touring by bicycle, eating mostly organic food, and camping for shelter. This empirical work forms the basis for Chapter 3. Although in Chapter 2 I argue there is a clear relationship between an embodied approach to research and the performing arts, positioning members of The Otesha Project as research subjects in Chapter 3 creates a very complex web for analysis where subjects inhabit multiple layers and varieties of performance: as actors, as community members, as activists, as athletes, as research subjects, etc. The ways in which they perform sustainability are multiple and complex, and not without internal and interpersonal conflict. This first case study involves people who 16  consciously and explicitly take on the task of performing sustainability on stage and off stage. Their experiences provide insight into the ways in which a performative act can be an opportunity for learning (about one’s self and the world) and therefore an opportunity for change. The second stage of empirical work, which forms the basis for Chapter 4, is designed to test the application of the performance lens to sustainability practices that are not undertaken with an explicitly performative intent. In collaboration with a small recycling program (the UBU cart program) that, at the time, was experiencing some procedural problems, I proposed a photographic research method to investigate the difficulties, reveal possible solutions, and build social and reflexive capacity among program members. The program recruits marginalized community members to collect bottles and cans from local area businesses and condominium towers, therefore the research method involved participants from the marginalized community and the businesses carrying cameras for a period of time in order to photograph their experiences of the program. As in Chapter 3, this stage of the empirical research involved multiple kinds of performance by study participants, but in this case the performative moment occurred when a participant took a photograph of some aspect of the recycling program and this performative act reframed their everyday sustainability behaviours that were otherwise not explicitly performative into intentional performances of sustainability. The performance act that for The Otesha Project members in Chapter 3 was central to their role as actors, was somewhat alien for participants in Chapter 4; the study created a unique opportunity for recycling program participants to creatively and reflexively examine their embodied experiences, and to build on that insight to modify the recycling program. In Chapter 4 I report on the experiences of participants taking on the arts-based research method, and the results and implications of applying the lens of performance to investigate the everyday embodied sustainability practices in this community. Chapter 5 moves the work accomplished for this dissertation in a slightly different direction. In response to a call for papers for a special issue of Culture and Local Governance on sustainability and communities, I wrote this chapter as an article arguing for the inclusion of arts-based methods for citizen participation in deliberative democratic processes. New styles of governance that are more inclusive, adaptive, and meaningfully integrative of economic, 17  ecological, social, and cultural dimensions are emerging in the face of climate change and calls for sustainability. In Chapter 5 I propose this shift should be accompanied by a parallel shift in how citizen consultation occurs. Specifically, while deliberative democracy processes explicitly focus on textual discourse as the appropriate register for citizen participation, artsbased methods allow for additional and creatively expressive modes of communication and participation that hold some promise for being more inclusive, more open to people with a variety of strengths beyond textual abilities, and more adaptive to a variety of populations and local circumstances. This chapter of the dissertation looks beyond the work of one doctoral project to the broader implications of multi-modal data generation, innovation in embodied practices, and the importance of valuing culture as a cornerstone of sustainable society. Both empirical case studies are featured in this chapter as examples of sustainability research that is embodied, inclusive, creative, and broadly representative of sustainability as an emergent property of engagement that goes beyond the cognitive, text-based realm to the everyday realm of embodied social practice. Chapter 5 traces the lessons from the two case studies and interprets them as potential recommendations for arts-based and performative research methods that could be included in new governance styles for a sustainable future. The concluding chapter summarizes the key findings and insights of the dissertation, further tying the empirical work to the theoretical framing and arguments in Chapter 2. The limitations, weaknesses and strengths of the project are presented and evaluated. The empirical data and findings in this dissertation raise numerous questions and directions for future work in the area of how sustainability is performed and embodied, which are also presented in Chapter 6.  18  Chapter 2: Embodying and performing sustainability 2.1  Introduction  In this chapter I demonstrate that shifting from conventional studies of sustainability behaviours to the strong procedural form of sustainability research and social practice theory provides an opportunity for the acknowledgement of the complicity of bodily experiences and practices in the sustainability transition. This is an opportunity to enrich, enliven, and embody sustainability discourse and practice with the vitality of lived experience. Some cultural theorists suggest that as a society we are currently experiencing a state of disembodiment brought about by sociotechnical advances that have dramatically suppressed our vital sense of being-in-the-world and negatively impacted our ability to care about and for the earth’s systems. Contrary to such claims, and citing extensive research across numerous disciplines, I demonstrate that bodily engagements are the foundation of how we make sense in the world – even to understand abstract concepts the abstractions must retain some traces of relatable embodied meaning if we are to make sense of them. Therefore, in order to tap into our primordial being-in-the-world in a way that might advance sustainability, the problem is not one of re-enchanting society to the wonders of nature, it is a problem of folding our already and always innate embodiment more explicitly into sustainability praxis. I describe the embodiment paradigm as interpreted across research in many fields, and propose the adaptable discipline of performance studies as a model for research and analysis that is centred on embodied experience. And finally I consider embodiment, performance, and sustainability together to establish how a focus on embodiment, viewed through the useful lens of performance theory, can invigorate sustainability studies with the intimate lived space of life itself. 2.2  Shifting paradigms  I propose a paradigm shift away from thinking about pro-sustainability action as behaviour that is located in the individual and which can be influenced by the delivery of new or better information, to thinking about social practices that occur in an ever evolving, ever contingent  19  material, social, and political context, and that are potentially influenced by changing elements of the dynamic environment, but whose impact is largely unpredictable. 2.2.1  From conventional behaviour change for sustainability…  It is notoriously difficult to generalize about what motivates decisions and actions for sustainability because the highly localized scale of individual action where change is tangible contrasts with the seemingly abstract global scale of environmental forces, international trade and economic disparity, and the long period of intergenerational time spans. Attempts to order and explain the drivers of behaviour have resulted in two approaches to modelling behaviour dominating the sustainability literature on behaviour change: behavioural economics and psychological models (Wilson and Dowlatabadi 2007; Shove 2010). Briefly, in the behavioural economics model all decisions are framed in terms of costs and benefits, and are a result of our ability to make rational trade-offs between the available options (Altman 2006). In the last decade, the study of behavioural economics has come under fire for not taking into account the context in which people make decisions, and therefore what influence environmental factors may have on the behavioural outcome (Altman 2006). In response to this criticism, environmental factors are being integrated into behavioural economic models by incorporating some elements of behavioural ecology (Gigerenzer 2008), a field of study traditionally focused on (non-human) animal behaviour2. In the other dominant model, psychological rationales of behaviour focus on the identification and classification of personal, social, and cultural markers that function as predictors of individual behaviour (Dietz, Stern, and Guagnano 1998; Stern 2000). Race, gender, religion, class, and numerous other identifying traits are treated as weighted factors in a grand equation that aims to model and predict our choices and actions. Psychological theories of behaviour are sensitive to situational conditions that can influence behaviour, either by facilitating desired behaviours or inhibiting less desired behaviours (Corraliza and Berrenguer 2000), but the analysis and resulting expectations for behaviour retain the clinical  2  I find it encouraging that in order to move economic theory of human behaviour forward researchers have turned to a field of study more conventionally applied to the study of animals. Perhaps this recognition of our innate beastly nature demonstrates, in a way, a shift toward an embodied approach where the ways in which we root in the mud are also interesting and valid realms of study. 20  characteristic of the categorizing basis of this approach. Although many of the personal traits included in psychological rationales for behaviour are related to, or derive from, embodied characteristics (such as skin colour, anatomical properties, etc.), the essential vitality of embodying one trait or another (or more realistically living many of these traits simultaneously) in a complex material, social, and cultural context is markedly absent from the rational process of charting the additive or interfering relationships between traits in order to predict behaviour based on those factors. Both behavioural economics and psychological behaviour rationales are premised on the rational choice theory of human behaviour which describes behaviour as the result of a rational and linear process where knowledge leads to concern and/or awareness which produces behaviour change (Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002). This is sometimes described as the ABC model: “Attitudes (A) drive Behaviour (B) that individuals Choose (C) to adopt” (Shove 2010:1274). Shove critiques the ABC model for its focus on causal factors that influence individual actions as opposed to focusing on larger scale factors that might influence patterns of behaviour at the collective scale of action. For example, recent work in both models to better incorporate contextual and normative factors has merely resulted in increasing the number of external causal variables in an already extensive list of, Shove claims, largely arbitrary factors3; the myriad permutations of interacting forces and resultant outcomes are a barrier to the predictive power of economic and psychological behaviour rationales (Shove 2010). But despite their lack of predictive power, behavioural models in the rational choice tradition remain strongly appealing to policy-makers who are attracted to the direct causality between education and behaviour depicted in the models (Owens 2000; Hargreaves 2011; Shove 2010). Within the rational choice model of behaviour the obvious and appealingly simple strategy for affecting change is to provide more and better information to people who will then reasonably and rationally change their behaviour; this is called the information deficit model (Burgess et al. 1998; Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002). Unfortunately, strong evidence now demonstrates the failure of information alone to produce substantive behaviour change  3  For two particularly apposite examples of psychological behavioural research that demonstrates an unruly number of causal variables see (Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera 1986; Stern 2000). 21  (Blake 1999; Owens 2000). A well-documented result of information provision strategies – which are premised upon the linear causal model in which knowledge influences attitudes which in turn shape values that in part determine behaviour – is the paradoxical ‘value-action gap’ according to which many people hold pro-environmental values but do not act accordingly (Blake 1999; Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002). In the absence of transformative change created through the information-deficit model or other strategies premised on heavily-cognitive models of individual behaviour change, we must seek out alternative ways of conceiving of and promoting social change for sustainability that go beyond the cognitive approach. 2.2.2  To strong procedural sustainability and social practices  In order to expand sustainability work beyond a primarily cognitive approach, one useful step is to strategically conceive of sustainability as an emergent property of practices that occur on the ground, in real life. The procedural approach to sustainability focuses on the ways in which sustainability practice and discourse are formed through processes of interaction and engagement. Procedural sustainability is positioned as parallel and complementary to more substantive sustainability that is a more global conception of sustainability that aims to reconcile economic, ecological, and social imperatives (Robinson 2008, 2004; Robinson and Tansey 2006). In contrast, the procedural approach “emphasizes the inherently local and place-based nature of such concepts as sustainability, and the need for meaning to emerge from within the interplay between theoretical knowledge and local circumstance” (Robinson 2008:75). Procedural sustainability, then, is a strong example of the deliberative, highly interactive and participatory processes Owens (2000) and others support as being a valuable alternative to the information-deficit model that is premised on top-down, expert-driven directives for behaviour change (see for example Blake 1999; Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002; and Shove and Walker 2010). Research on the design, application, and outcomes of the procedural approach to sustainability has been championed in the work of Robinson and others at the University of British Columbia in recent decades, successfully demonstrating that the principle of sustainability is not usefully thought of as a purely scientific concept, but is in fact inherently normative and ethical (Robinson and Tansey 2006; Carmichael et al. 2004, 2005; Robinson 22  et al. 2006, 2011; Vanwynsberghe, Carmichael, and Khan 2007; Shaw et al. 2009). Theirs is a complex systems approach that stresses the emergent nature of sustainability as a concept, and depends on the beliefs and values of many to collectively shape the sustainable future, and, by the principles of backcasting (Robinson 2003), to work backwards from the desired future collectively described to the present time in order to identify barriers and opportunities and to determine the appropriate path forward. In this formulation, sustainability is an adaptive and always evolving property that emerges from collaborative discourse and practices. While information of various kinds plays a critical role in the determination of desired courses of action, the emergent and normative nature of sustainability requires a culturally and socially mediated process of decision-making (Robinson 2004). Procedural sustainability is an interdisciplinary approach that “is cautious about strong theoretical knowledge claims and predisposed to epistemological pluralism and the grounding of specific claims in some form of practice” (Robinson 2008:79). This position is highly compatible with social practice theory: “Where conventional accounts stop at individuals’ cognitive states and how they change, a practice-based account demands the further step to consider ‘doings’” (Hargreaves 2011:89). Social practice theory, which evolves from the work of Giddens (1986) and Bourdieu (Bourdieu and Nice 1984; 1977), finds meaning in the everyday routines and actions that emerge from patterns of our social, cultural, and material entanglements (Shove and Pantzar 2005; Shove and Walker 2010; Hargreaves 2011; Warde 2005). Shove argues convincingly that practices and behaviour are fundamentally incompatible units of study: “Whereas social theories of practice emphasise endogenous and emergent dynamics, social theories of behaviour focus on causal factors and external drivers” (Shove 2010:1279). Practices differ from behaviours in that the focus is not on a single actor and the individual’s psychological motivations; social practice theory instead seeks “the middle level between agency and structure” (Hargreaves 2011:82) and neatly sidesteps the unmanageable task of enumerating the limitless number of drivers for behaviour that the ABC model takes on. To denote the actual, physical actions of a practice, social practice theory uses the term performance. A performance is the actual enactment of a practice by a ‘carrier’ of the practice (Hargreaves 2011; Warde 2004, 2005). For example, I am a carrier of the social 23  practice of riding public transit. When I perform ‘riding public transit’, I call upon my knowledge of transit procedures and bus routes, my embodied skills of climbing aboard a bus and staying upright with the swaying motion if no seat is available, and my ability to gauge the social requirements of interacting with the driver and other riders who, in their own way, are also performing the practice ‘riding public transit’. This example demonstrates Schatzki’s definition of practices as “embodied, materially mediated arrays, and shared meanings” (2001:3). In social practice theory, the embodied dimension of life has intrinsic value and it is through embodied performances of social practices that transformative change can occur because “when practices change they do so as an emergent outcome of the actions and inactions of all (including materials and infrastructures, not only humans) involved” (Shove and Walker 2010:475). Although social practices are collective, widespread, and emergent across large spatial and temporal scales, the carriers of practice are not completely submissive to their forces and can influence the form and direction of practices with agentic intention4. Hargreaves explains, “despite their considerable inertia, change in practices emerges both from the inside – as practitioners contest and resist routines and conventions and as they improvise new doings and sayings in new situations – and also from the outside, as different practices come into contact with each other” (2011:83). Social practice theory offers a lot of potential as a useful way to think about and research how sustainability is embodied and performed. 2.3  Embodied practices of sustainability  In studying and promoting a deliberative, complex systems approach to social transformation for sustainability, then, we must take a critical look at how sustainability manifests in the lived world, i.e., the embodied world, for truly “The human drama is first and foremost a somatic one” (Berman 1990:108). Although extensive research in my view adequately proves that our embodiment is innate and inescapable, some scholars posit that anthropogenic climate change and the environmental crisis are a direct result of what they 4  The social practice theory of transformative change in practices resonates strongly with Butler’s concept of performativities (Butler 1990, 2004; see also Gregson and G. Rose 2000; and David Crouch 2003). Performativities are characteristics and positions enacted by people that signify something about their identity and social relations. Performativities are shaped by social norms and expectations, but it is only in their repetition as bodily acts that they gain power. Butler’s contribution in this vein will be discussed more in Section 2.4. 24  claim is society’s current state of disembodiment, brought about by sociotechnical advances over the ages that have created a crucial distance between human experience and the awesome splendour of ‘Nature’. Their arguments resonate with the romantic notions of majestic ‘nature’ and ‘wilderness’ that, in part, fuel the preservationist environmental movement. I present their arguments here to elucidate how, while their case for contemporary society’s general detachment from nature is almost certainly true (which is probably most related to a global shift in population distribution to dense urban centres), the central tenet of their disembodiment argument is fundamentally untrue and only serves to display a bias toward natural materials and outdoor spaces that is untenable in contemporary efforts for sustainability given that same statistic, that as of 2007 more of the world’s population lives in urban centres than in rural areas (UNFPA 2007). 2.3.1  Are we disembodied? Something obvious keeps eluding our civilisation, something that involves a reciprocal relationship between nature and [human] psyche, and that we are going to have to grasp if we are to survive as a species. (Berman 1984:344)  Some scholars suggest that people living in contemporary western society are living in a state of disembodiment in comparison to earlier and non-western societies, that this condition has led to the current environmental crisis. Cultural historian Morris Berman (1990, 1984) argues that people have become “progressively disenchanted” from the natural world since ~2000 B.C., creating a widening gap between cultural worlds and natural ecosystems. By ‘disenchantment’ Berman means that, in his experience, a severe sense of disembodiment distances us from awareness of biological elements like plant life, climate, and ecosystems. Although we inhabit a material world and require sustenance and stimulation to survive and thrive, the disembodiment argument implies that we have lost trust in sensory input and embodied knowledge. Instead we prioritize cognitive input and live mostly ‘in our heads’. The disembodiment that Berman claims is being experienced by western society today is, he states, a result of numerous cultural shifts, the earliest of which he identifies as the decline in chant as a means to communicate in the pre-Homeric tradition (Berman 1984:60). Collective chant is a participatory embodied event, a form of ‘participating consciousness’ that can draw people together and unite them in an enchanting spell (Berman 1990:112). 25  Paired with the decline in chant, the emergence and subsequent dominance of the written word for purposes of recording events and communicating information is blamed for what Berman perceives as society’s departure from a close relationship with the non-human world. Abram (1997) points to the emergence of the aleph-beth (an early Hebrew precursor to the alphabet) as a critical point of departure from a more embodied cultural ethos. Though the characters of the aleph-beth of early Hebrew scribes were believed to be “a magic gateway or guide into an entire sphere of existence” (1997:133), the alphabetic writing system we now use that derives from the aleph-beth has been stripped of animism and ties to natural forms. The purely visual, non-animate form of today’s alphabet these authors claim is one of many occularcentric biases identified as having a disembodying effect in modern, western culture (Abram 1997; Berman 1990). They claim that an emphasis on the image contributes to “civilization’s distrust of bodily and sensorial experience, and to our consequent estrangement from the earthly world around us” (Abram 1997:94). A singular focus on one sensory mode, such as when the visual system is solely required to read text, risks disrupting the total embodied experience of somatic engagement with the synaesthetic world5. Although they use the term ‘disembodied’ liberally, Berman’s and Abram’s arguments are not Cartesian: never do they actually claim that we have completely ceased to exist in our bodies. Rather than an ontological claim to disembodiment, that would be supported by the Cartesian mind/body dualism, their claim is epistemological in that they believe that members of today’s western society act in ways that deny our embodiment, prioritizing cognitive information and mental processes over sensory information and natural processes such as the diurnal cycle. When Berman claims we are in a time “in which the things that really matter in human life exist at the margin of our culture” (1990:341), he means that our corporeal embodiment and, therefore, visceral knowledge of the earth’s systems are marginalized in our daily experiences. Furthermore, their claims are based in a comparison between the dominant spiritual practices of contemporary western society (i.e., dogmatic monotheistic religions) and the spiritual practices of earlier and contemporary non-western societies. For example, Abram introduces the figure of the shaman, present in many non-  5  In Chapter 4 I dispute this claim and argue with supportive evidence that images, such as photographs, have the power to evoke strong embodied sensations. Stimulating one sense organ, such as the eyes, can cause the other sense to ‘rush in’, enlivening the embodied experience associated with what is represented in the image. 26  western cultures, whose role is to connect with earthly systems and natural elements in order to effect healing powers over someone who is unwell. The medicine person’s primary allegiance is (…) not to the human community, but to the earthly web of relations in which that community is embedded – it is from this that his or her power to alleviate human illness derives. (Abram 1997:8) For Abram, the presence of the shaman illustrates a culture’s deep relationship with and reverence of the more-than-human world. We are perhaps to conclude that the absence of a shaman-like role in the dominant spiritual institutions and practices of western society illustrates an absence of a profound relationship with the more-than-human. Plumwood (2002) makes a similar claim that there is a tendency in non-indigenous western society to locate that which is sacred “in the wrong place, above and beyond a fallen earth” (Plumwood 2002:220). Contrary to indigenous spirituality that locates the sacred in material entities such as rivers, trees, and animals, Plumwood critiques western spirituality for being without a sense of place and without relevance to the materials ‘that really matter in human life’, as Berman also claims. In an effort to move western non-indigenous society a step toward reenchantment, Plumwood extols a ‘materialist6 spirituality of place’ that is “a certain kind of communicative capacity that recognizes the elements that support our lives” (2002:220). [The] oppositional formulation of spirit versus matter renders invisible the important concept of a materialist spirituality which does not invoke a separate spirit as an extra, independent individualised ingredient, but rather posits a richer, fully intentional non-reductionist concept of the earthly and the material. (Plumwood 2002:222).  6  In this dissertation, material is, quite simply, the physical stuff of life: the rocks and wood chips, keyboards and lightbulb filaments, cotton and nylon threads, mdf and carpet tiles, carrots and broccolini that we encounter with the materials of our bodies such as fingertips, the rods and cones of eyes, small and large intestines, and bodily fluids. There is a tendency by some authors who write on material culture to fathom a “kind of slippage, from materials to materiality” (Ingold 2011:23) whereby the materials themselves become agents in processes of signification and take on some higher level of intrinsic meaning. Ingold rightly problematizes this move because the use of the terms ‘materiality’ or ‘materialist’ establishes a kind of transcendent, immaterial agentic attribute of the thing in question that is, first, foremost, and always, just a thing. To reiterate, when my reader encounters ‘material’ in this text, it is to describe the fleshyness, the actual “thing-ness of things” (Bennett 2004:365). 27  Speaking from my own reflexive position as a member of western society, it is almost certainly true that the patterns of my life lived in an urban centre, where I make use of modern comforts and conveniences like vehicles and raincoats and supermarkets, do not readily offer up deep communal moments with nature. Where I take issue with the disembodiment arguments proposed is in what I perceive to be their insistence that meaningful embodied experience can only occur in natural settings, and the correlate, then, that sensuous engagement with the non-human world simply switches off in other settings. In the following section I reference the work of diverse scholars to establish that we are constantly and irrefutably embodied, and our embodiment is the basis for how we make sense in the world.  28  2.3.2  We are embodied…how?  So far I have presented claims that as a society we are currently experiencing a state of disembodiment, brought about by various historic trends including the written word and Judeo-Christian dogma that values a spirit not of this world but over and above the materials that support human life. My own position is slightly different. I too believe that we currently operate at a crucial, if not fatal, distance from the natural world, and the cause of this distance is in part correctly attributed to the historic shifts described above. However, my fundamental position is that we never have been and never will be disembodied, and framing human existence in this way reestablishes a nature/culture dichotomy. This is an extremely unconstructive framing, particularly with regard to the sustainability project. The foundation of sustainability science is that our corporeality is intimately tied up with the material cycles of the earth; therefore to claim that we are disembodied undermines the purpose of developing sustainable embodied practices for a sustainable future. Perhaps as a result of shifting socio-cultural beliefs, increased exposure to and exploration of virtual worlds, and the cushioning cocoon of technologies of comfort that increasingly separate us from natural forces, our embodied connections are no longer limited to animate natural forms but now expansively include new forms of embodied connection, such as the embodied experience of virtual worlds, or the simplest of engagements in an urban setting such as the cool and rough touch of concrete. I am working from the premise that there is currently a systemic omission of somatic awareness from most research, policy, and governance. This omission is not limited to the sustainability field but, as I indicated above, because the foundational precept of sustainability studies is our continued and successful embodied engagement with the material world, this missing link may be of crucial importance to achieving the sustainability transition. Slowly a shift toward a material approach is occurring across academic disciplines, demonstrating that an approach that is grounded in the everyday somatic patterns of life can potentially be subversive and even revolutionary. For example, in anthropology, “a recent emphasis on materials and actions (…) permits critique of rule-based and more overtly cognitive models of agency structure” (Acord and DeNora 2008:223). Social practice theory, too, locates meaning in material practices, in the coming together of people and 29  things. When comparing the location of meaning in social practice theory to its location in rational, linear models of behaviour, Hargreaves states: “The difference (…) is that in a practice approach meaning is seen as residing within the practice rather than in individuals’ heads” (Hargreaves 2011:87). The move to recognise and value an approach that adopts the embodiment paradigm, “reinforces the hybrid and collective dimensions of [relational understandings of social life] by re-embodying human being, recalling our place as organisms and acknowledging our varied and changing embeddedness in the material properties and presences of diverse others” (Whatmore 1999:29–30, emphasis in original). Whatmore’s emphasis on being human is a reminder that humanity is not a static state – it is a dynamic interaction that is constantly in the process of becoming, and it requires active work. She again calls for us to acknowledge the fundamental reality that we are embodied beings in a web of social, cultural, and material ecosystems that support life. From this perspective, achieving a sustainable future where humans and non-humans mutually thrive requires that we work beyond the exclusively cognitive realm to acknowledge our essential embodiment and all that that entails. 2.3.3  Meaning is created in interaction with the material world  The embodiment paradigm is founded on the premise that bodily experiences are fundamental to how we make sense of the world, and how meaning is created. All knowledge starts in somatic relations with the world around us (M. Johnson 1999; Lakoff and M. Johnson 1999). According to Johnson, understanding and reasoning are pre-lingual, “rooted in the patterns of our bodily activity” (M. Johnson 1999:81). Further, he claims, “no matter how sophisticated our abstractions become, if they are to be meaningful to us, they must retain their intimate ties to our embodied modes of conceptualization and reasoning” (1999:81). Barad (2006) argues that meaning is not an inherent property of anything, including the words of a language, but that meaning only exists as a localized phenomenon during interactions, or what she calls intra-actions. The semantic shift from inter- to intra- in her writings reinforces Barad’s claim that separate bounded entities do not exist prior to their coming together in some relationship whereby their edges can be distinguished in relation to one another. Her argument, and our experience as living agents who construct meaning  30  through interactions, is tautological: matter does not exist outside of meaning, yet meaning only emerges from our interactions with matter. Meaning and logic materialize in the realm of practical action as we engage in creative embodied dialogue with the world and others around us. The structure of the body gives shape to what Johnson calls corporeal logic, which influences both the ways we perceive and what meaning we find in the world: “Reason does not drop down from above like a transcendent dove; rather, it emerges from the ‘corporeal’ logic and inference structure of our bodily, sensorimotor experience” (M. Johnson 1999:86). But our bodies are not static, we are mobile, bending and shifting in and through space as we take action in the dynamic world. Harrison (2000) makes a compelling case that by taking action we can close the loop to confirm or deny our suspicions of how the world works: Our reasons for action are never absolute, never ‘well-founded’. (…) Our belief is in our acts; in the practices of using desks and comprehending trees. (…) Doubt ends in our active embodiment, not in the reflexive or abstract rationalisation of that embodiment. (Harrison 2000:507, emphasis in original) From this point of view, knowledge is transitive, that is, knowledge is constituted by our embodied engagement with material and social worlds. It follows that all knowledge is partial and situated in particular space and time, and a particular body. Donna Haraway defends particular and partial knowledge as a powerfully critical “view from a body, always a complex, contradictory, structuring and structured body, versus the view from above, from nowhere, from simplicity” (Haraway 1988:589). The accumulation of partial views across a population builds a collective sense of space that defines the possible and appropriate ways to use, move through, shape and share embodied space. The social context of spaces therefore informs the subjective embodied view. We build beliefs and values and make decisions on the basis of “a more partial, less accurate and subjective view of [our] environment derived from the mediation of previous experience, education, and social conditioning, and expectations and hopes” (Rodaway 1994:12). For abstract or conceptual knowledge to be meaningful and compelling, it must retain a traceable relationship to its somatic origins. In this light, we might wonder what to make of 31  abstractions and large, nebulous institutions that also exist in our experience and currently dominate the cognitive focus of contemporary Western life. Latham provides the connection between high-level abstractions and the embodied life of everyday by emphasising that conceptualizations are “embedded (…) in the noncognitive, preintentional and commonsensical” patterns of life: The everyday should not be viewed as a world apart from more rationally grounded realms of social action such as ‘the state’, ‘the economic’, ‘the political’, or whatever. Rather, what needs to be recognised is how all elements of social life, all institutions, all forms of practice are in fact tied together with the work of getting on from day-today. (Latham 2003:1998) Here Latham describes the embodied practices of daily life as the building blocks from which larger institutions and collective social practices are built. Merleau-Ponty (2002), a founding figure in phenomenology, repeats and repeats that the body is ‘silent’, ‘tacit’, and ‘unspoken’, and therefore able to resist the scientific project of creating representational accounts of bodily being in the world (Shusterman 2005:160). However, although everyday practices may seem to function quietly behind the scenes of larger institutions and social movements, Shusterman (2005) argues that this duality of foreground and background does not silence the body’s contribution to human understanding and experience. Merleau-Ponty’s insistence that the body is ‘silent’ might cause us to question whether the pre-lingual and intuitive nature of embodied knowledge is detrimental to the project of moving the “noncognitive, preintentional and commonsensical” into a position of power that can influence discourse and policy, but Shusterman suggests that although embodied experiences are largely felt and intuitive (as opposed to being explicitly rational) we do have the ability to reflect on our own embodiment. That is not to say that practicing reflective body consciousness gives access to the entire somatic experience. Leder explains, “Insofar as I perceive through an organ, it necessarily recedes from the perceptual field it discloses. I do not smell my nasal tissue, hear my ear, or taste my taste buds but perceive with and through such organs” (Leder 1990:14–15). There is obviously, then, still some value in reflecting on “prereflective perception” because although we cannot simultaneously observe the body while being the engaged observing agent (the problem of smelling the nasal tissue with the 32  nasal tissue), we do “vacillate rapidly between the two perspectives” (Shusterman 2005:174). So long as we know and accept this limitation, there is much to learn about bodily experiences through reflective acts that open up the embodied moment for exposition. Translating experiential corporeality into language for the production of texts (academic or otherwise) is a highly contested process. Ingold (2000) warns that we must not trust written explanations to be a direct representation of the embodied experience; something is always lost, always twisted in the translation exercise: The subjugation of the bodily to the semantic diminishes the body and its experience in two ways. First body movements – postures and gestures – are reduced to the status of signs which direct the analyst in search of what they stand for, namely extrasomatic cultural meanings. Secondly, the body is rendered passive and inert, while the active role of mobilising it, putting it to use and charging it with significance is delegated to a knowing subject which is both detached from the body and reified by society. (Ingold 2000, citing Jackson 1989) But if we think of language as comprised of speech acts (Austin 1978; Butler 1993), that is, the process of making sense through language is itself creative and performative, then some of the power of embodied knowledge can be conveyed through language with the codicil that the translation is not a perfect reproduction or a wholly accurate account of the embodied experience. Instead the translation is a re-formulation of the original experience from which we can learn something about the original experience, and something about the act of translation. Latham says it succinctly, “[writing about somatic experience] is a question of finding the appropriate register and perspective and accepting that something will (and should) escape the process of description” (2003:1999). This suggests there are methodological implications for academic research on embodied sustainability that demand active, creative, embodied participation that goes beyond the conventional production of ‘texts’. (Chapter 4 of this dissertation takes up this question of embodied method in greater detail.) It is not a question of abandoning textual research of lived experience – for language is definitely a material practice and a social practice, while also being a cognitive practice. And these dimensions are dynamically interwoven in the moment.  33  De Certeau describes how semantic and somatic bodily practices can occur in tandem: The same practices appear now in a verbal field, now in a field of non-linguistic actions; they move from one field to the other, being equally tactical and subtle in both; they keep the ball moving between them – from the workaday to evening, from cooking to legends and gossip, from the devices of lived history to those of history retold. (de Certeau 1984:78) I think de Certeau is really talking about perception, and how embodied social practices and symbolic constructions are so deeply entangled in our day-to-day lives that they are in fact contiguous. Environmental psychologist Gibson would agree, stating, “Perception is not a mental act. Neither is it a bodily act. Perceiving is a psychosomatic act, not of mind or of body but of a living observer” (Gibson 1979:279). Furthermore, recalling that we make sense of the world through the corporeal logic of our particular and subjective bodies, perception too is influenced by context, habituation, socialisation, and cultural influences: “we do not perceive naively” (Rodaway 1994:11). The arguments I present here, that all knowledge is rooted in embodied experience of the world, that we make sense of the world through bodily interactions with others and other things, and that perception is influenced by our physical capacities and socio-cultural environments, highlight the need to seriously consider the role that embodiment plays in the sustainability transition. Solely providing information about why or how to undertake new behaviours for a sustainable future may be ineffective if it does not acknowledge the embodied experience and implications of current and target practices (i.e., living the policy outcomes), or that all social, cultural, and material entanglements that together form social practices are intimately lived as synaesthetic embodied experiences. Working through these issues with the embodiment paradigm provides two advantages that I think are crucial to defining and achieving a sustainable future: first this paradigm shift positions the message of sustainability to explicitly address the connection between embodied practices and the material processes of this fleshy earth, and secondly looking at sustainability through the embodiment paradigm powerfully reminds us that the medium of sustainability practices, the human body, is at the heart of the sustainability transition. In the next section I present the  34  fundamental characteristics that delineate embodiment both as a concept and a corporeal reality. 2.3.4  Characteristics of embodiment  I conducted a broad review of writings and projects by theorists, artists, and practitioners on and about the experiencing body, from which I distilled six recurring and salient characteristics that together form a comprehensive picture of what I mean when I say ‘embodiment’. These characteristics describe embodiment as an epistemological and ontological paradigm that is rooted in the bodily ways we inhabit space, and expands from there to the infinite relationships we have with the world that quickly expand beyond physicality (Lakoff and M. Johnson 1999). Paul Harrison describes the duality of embodiment very well, although he begins from the related term ‘sensate’: By the ‘sensate’ I do not quite mean the body, though this is obviously part of the sensuous, nor am I referring to pure sense data coming from outside the self. Rather I wish to consider the sensate as something much closer to a form of knowing and being in everyday life. The sensate is what Michael Taussig is concerned with when he asks, ‘what sort of sense is constitutive of this everydayness?’ (1992:141). It is something that being on the ‘edge of semantic availability’ (Williams 1978:134) is at the edge of ourselves; it is the relation to an outside and constitutes the surface on which we dwell in everyday life. (P. Harrison 2000:499) I feel that in this excerpt one could replace ‘sensate’ with ‘embodiment’ and it reads as an accurate account of how I conceive of embodied being in the world as a generative state – generative of meaning, relationships, and an understanding of self. This is how embodiment will be used in this dissertation, as an active being-in-place where place includes social, physical, and imaginative spaces and times that relies on and, in turn, feeds back into, the human bodily experience. That being said, embodiment by nature is pre-lingual, prereflective, and therefore, as Harrison states above, is just at the edge of language. The fact that embodiment is only partially accessible through language has ramifications in the ways it should be studied, and they will be examined and taken up in later chapters, but the textual  35  bias of academic production insists that I at least attempt to convey the slippery subject with words. With that important caveat, here are embodiment’s major characteristics. Embodiment is corporeal, but not exclusively so. Harrison says “The strata of the body form the enunciative ‘frame’ of the organism: they define what it is possible to see and to say” (P. Harrison 2000:506). Our experiences and actions are defined and constrained by the structure of our bodies, but the body and embodiment are not identical – they are parallel and complementary, “the body, then, [is] a biological, material entity and embodiment [is] an indeterminate methodological field defined by perceptual experience and by mode of presence and engagement in the world” (Csordas 1999:145). Embodied experiences can be felt well beyond the borders of the body through empathy and projection (Berman 1984:141). In fact, while engaging with others and things beyond the self, the body must recede from our immediate attention in order to perceive beyond the body. Merleau-Ponty explains this duality as the original figure-ground relationship: “One’s own body is the third term, always tacitly understood, in the figure-background structure, and every figure stands out against the double horizon of external and bodily space” (Merleau-Ponty 2002:115). While engagement with the world around us requires an outward-tuned awareness, we of course do have the capacity to perceive our bodies with an inward-tuned awareness, to reflexively “take a viewpoint on the body, have a conception of it” (Berman 1990:35). This reflexive perspective does not eclipse the corporeal experience of being in the body. Rather it provides yet another partial perspective that adds a layer of meaning. Feminist scholar Haraway explains “only partial perspective promises objective vision” (1988:583). The embodied perspective adds a corporeal understanding of body-world relationships and reflexive insight that is somewhat removed from the immediate experience of being in the body. Embodiment is not only situated in physical relationships but also in social and cultural relationships. The embodied perspective is partial and subjective and acknowledging the partiality of knowledges gained by different means and through different lenses “allows us to become answerable for what we learn how to see” (Haraway 1988:583). Embodiment is synaesthetic. We encounter the world in a cascade of stimuli, rarely able to disambiguate one sensory moment from another, or one sense’s receptors over another’s. In most perception, “It becomes difficult to limit my experience to a single sensory department: 36  it spontaneously overflows towards all the rest” (Merleau-Ponty 2002:264). According to Abram (1997), perception is inherently synaesthetic since the act of isolating one sensory mode from all others disrupts the total bodily perception of the phenomenon. As discussed above, most of the time the material body recedes from ones attention except in cases of pain or discomfort when the body’s state is the most immediately important (Csordas 1994). Csikszentmihalyi’s (1997) concept of flow, applied successfully in a variety of fields including sport analysis and business strategy, is used to describe a state of high engagement or concentration that allows a person to react and adapt skilfully in the moment, seemingly without excessive conscious thought. When someone is in a state of flow, focusing on a specific part of the body or what the body is doing runs the risk of removing oneself from the flow of the moment. For example, if during a tennis game a player thinks carefully about where to place her foot in order to lunge for the ball, it’s likely that she’s missed her shot by interrupting the smooth continuance of her play, and possibly put herself off balance and risked injury. That close inspection of foot placement on the court is the equivalent of isolating one sensory mode and disrupting total bodily perception. To actively engage with the world around us in a way that evokes appropriate and timely response, we take on the world in all its “sensuous abundance, ambiguity and redundancy” (Rodaway 1994:11; see also David Crouch 2003). Because embodiment is not merely physical, the social context is another layer of input and stimulation that we take in and respond to simultaneously. Embodiment is dialogic. Embodiment is relational in that it is contingent on material and social interactions. The world “actively solicits [our attention] (…) not as finished chunks of matter given once and for all, but as dynamic ways of engaging the senses and modulating the body” (Abram 1997:81). In this way, the act of perceiving the world as an embodied being is a mutually constitutive moment (Langer 1990:123). Referencing Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of perception, Abram (1997) describes an open circuit whereby the self is only completed in the presence of an Other because it is only in that encounter that we can identify ourselves in/through the perception of another and draw the perimeter of the self. If all knowledge starts in somatic relations with the world through our bodily behaviours, then it is through this embodied dialogue that we build understanding and communion (David Crouch 2003). Milton (2002) claims that people see ‘personhood’ in natural processes and events as a useful pathway to identification with non-human nature. Identification with others 37  is an expression of the extension of the self beyond bodily borders and the transcendence of individualism (Bruun and Langlais 2003; Milton 2002); in a way, identification with others is a form of participating consciousness (Berman 1990). Embodiment is historicized. Our personal and collective histories significantly influence the ways in which we encounter and interpret the world. Pre-existing biophysical attributes (such as physical injury or deformity) and social structures (such as gendered roles) can shape both the physicality of our bodies and our physical expectations and capacities (Grosz 1994b). We carry the past with us at every moment, whether in the form of a phantom limb or the memory of how we were treated by others, and the past is a lens through which we view the present and the future. History is embodied at many scales. Personal history is written at the cellular, genetic, and epidermal scales and at the scale of emotions and memory. Cultural and social history is written at an abstract, interpretive scale that can equally mark the shapes and capacities of bodies, and how we perceive ourselves in social and cultural contexts (Berman 1984). Embodiment is mobile through space and time. Embodied experience is mobile through time because it is deeply historicized, and because that embodiment is dialogic with, and contingent on, social and material worlds. Thus embodied experience is inherently placebased, susceptible to the relationship with a particular space at a particular time7. But embodiment doesn’t stagnate; it evolves through memories of past experiences, realities of current experience, and expectations for the future. By considering the body in movement, we can see better how it inhabits space (and, moreover, time) because movement is not limited to submitting passively to space and time, it actively assumes them, it takes them up in their basic significance which  7  Anthropologist Tim Ingold (2011) disagrees that sensory experience is embodied or that sensory experience leads to ties to a particular place. My understanding is that his use of the term ‘embodiment’ is as a solely corporeal concept, delineated by the contours of the flesh. In the way I (and others cited here) use ‘embodiment’ the corporeal dimension is of course fundamental but not limiting. Ingold argues that light, sound, and feeling “contrive to sweep us off our feet” and therefore cannot be said to anchor us in our own bodies (2011:134). Under the comprehensive and experiential definition of embodiment I lay out in this chapter it is precisely our capacity to experience being ‘swept off our feet’ that confirms the primary role of bodily relations to our capacity to reason and conceptualize. 38  is obscured in the commonplaceness of established situations. (Merleau-Ponty 2002:117) In this way embodiment is storied, nested within patterns of social, cultural, and personal practices through time and space that support the narrative of our actions in the here and now. Ingold (2011) likes the term ‘wayfaring’ to capture the mobility of lives led not in places, as such, but between, through, around, to and from places that hold significance for us, and, I would add, times. Embodiment is affective. We forge affective connections forged with the world along biophysical pathways to memory centres in our brain and muscles, yet our corporeal experiences of emotion and affect are also strongly influenced by our social and cultural worlds (Blackman and Venn 2010). Affect is another emergent property that exists only in relational engagement with other people, places, and things. “Emotions are complexly and multiply experienced: they are simultaneously experiential bodily states and socially constructed” (Milton 2002:3). In other words, biophysical responses experienced in the body have culturally variable meanings that are dependent on environmental and social contexts. We can think of emotions as “learning mechanisms” in that emotions “enable information to be picked up and they influence the ways in which that information is retained, interpreted and used” (Milton 2002:66). While emotions live in the body and surface as a kind of litmus test in our reactions, the broader concept of affect resides between the preintentional/commonsensical and more rational or strongly reasoned perceptions of the world. It is a kind of palpable sensing of social and cultural worlds that brings awareness to the body, and vice versa affect can bring a heightened awareness of the body to social and cultural worlds. Whereas the body normally recedes from attention during the everyday ‘getting on’ of life (Leder 1990), affective connections can powerfully thrust the body into conscious sensation. These six fundamental characteristics point to the embodied moment as one of partial knowledges, that is deeply dependent on the specific situation, the presence and positions of others (real or imagined), and that is dynamic and adaptive in the face of changing conditions. The question now is where does this point in terms of how to proceed with research and analysis that embraces embodied knowledge. And the answer is to turn to an 39  established field that holds corporeality at the centre of its discourse and research practice, performance studies. 2.4  Performance theory values corporeality and practices  A pioneer of performance theory, Goffman, states: “All the world is not, of course, a stage, but the crucial ways in which it isn’t are not easy to specify” (1959:72). Of course, on a relative scale, human behaviours occur rarely on a formal stage and constantly on the colloquial level of everyday habits and choices. To better understand how embodied behaviours for a sustainable future currently occur and how they might propagate and evolve, the practices and behaviours of people in their everyday lives must be investigated in a way that values embodied knowledge and the context of behaviour. “Performance-centered research takes as both its subject matter and method the experiencing body situated in time, place, and history” (Conquergood 2006:359). Performance theory offers a relational, adaptive lens for analysis of human behaviour that re-centres the human body as the first mode of engagement with the world. In their discussion of non-representationalist theory (Thrift 1996, 1999b, 1999a, 2000a; Thrift and Dewsbury 2000; see also Nash 2000) Thrift and Dewsbury (2000) describe the pluralism and open-endedness of life and how those characteristics can be echoed in a creative research praxis: There is a sense in all of this work of an emphasis on the sense of movement, the kinaesthetic sense, as the way in which we can understand the world and of kinaesthetic space, a fluid space in which no fixed standards of representation exist … Fluids necessarily resist adequate symbolisation and in their movement serve as a constant reminder of the limits of the logic of solids to understand change. Such a conception leads us inevitably to the performing arts, for it is amongst their practices that we find fluid spaces worked up, worked on, and worked out. (Thrift and Dewsbury 2000:19) A turn to the performing arts as a site of creative embodied praxis also suggests that application of the analytic tools developed around performances is also appropriate in the study of social practices. Similarly to Thrift and Dewsbury’s call for the performing arts as a 40  richly dynamic site for social inquiry, and in response to the material ‘turn’ in social theory, Whatmore describes what she sees as an emerging experimental imperative that creates an “urgent need to supplement the familiar repertoire of humanist methods that rely on generating talk and text with experimental practices that amplify other sensory, bodily, and affective registers and extend the company and modality of what constitutes a research subject” (2006:606–7). Philosopher Mark Johnson, who, as noted, argues compellingly that the roots of all meaning are somatic, declares the importance of the arts as a site of meaningmaking “where immanent bodily meaning is paramount” (2008:209). He argues that philosophers tend to overlook this rich site of processual engagement because of a bias toward cognitive language processes of meaning creation. But numerous fields in the social sciences and humanities have adopted and adapted the notion of performance in their studies of everyday life, and in fact performance as a topic, metaphor, and as a method has become pervasive in academic studies. Thrift and Dewsbury (2000) identify four ‘apprehensions’ of how performance has been taken up in the academy. The first is the influential work of Judith Butler whose description of how reiterative performances (performativities) work to shape gender identity and sexuality was foundational to gender and feminist studies8 (1990, 1993, 2004; see also David Crouch 2003; Gregson and G. Rose 2000). The second apprehension of performance is the theoretical understanding of performance that led to Thrift defining non-representationalist  8  Butler (1990) introduced the term ‘performativity’ and the term and its implications have been widely taken up and hotly debated ever since (for a good summary of the debate, see Crouch 2003:1947). Butler’s work engages specifically with discourses of power, and her concept of performativity figures largely in that literature. I do not take up her concept or its relationship to socio-political power in this dissertation, however I will explain here the meaning of the term as it relates to the focus of my study (embodied practices). A performativity is a kind of influencing function that enables the co-production of performer and audience in the moment of performing without “crudely prefigur[ing] what that performance is” (David Crouch 2003:1953; see also Nash 2000; Dewsbury 2000). Performativities are learned and adopted through social interactions where identities become formed and understood, yet performativities are not merely “citational practices which reproduce and/or subvert discourse” (Gregson and G. Rose 2000:434) but performativities actively, physically constrain performances in direction and significance. Performativities are formed by social and cultural influences, and in their turn affect experience and expression in performances: “Performance and performativity are braided together by virtue of iteration” (Phelan and Lane 1998:10). In Crouch’s formulation the performer has some agency that is not completely prefigured by performativities. In the words of Thrift and Dewsbury, “the subject is formed in submission [to social norms] but cannot be reduced to that submission” (2000:412). This position on performativity maintains the ephemeral temporality of performance supported by Phelan’s claim that performativity is “a space we might call the tension of the present tense” that bears the weight of memory and iteration and meaning in interaction (1999:224; cited in Thrift and Dewsbury 2000:422). 41  theory. Non-representationalist theory “emphasises the flow of practice in everyday life as embodied, as caught up with and committed to the creation of affect, as contextual, and as inevitably technologised through language and objects” (Thrift and Dewsbury 2000:415). The third apprehension is of the practice of performance, what we might call cultural productions that can appear on stage, on television, or in the rituals of culture enacted routinely, for example around a dinner table. And finally the fourth apprehension of performance noted by Thrift and Dewsbury is their understanding of research as performance. As academics, we perform creative duties staged to audiences comprised of students, peers, and university administrators, but also to research subjects. This has implications in all the tasks we do to fulfil our posts, but most notably should have a strong impact on the methods we employ to engage with research subjects. I have reproduced these interpretations of performance in order to identify where my work falls across the spectrum. Primarily, I think of, act, and write about performance in the sense of the second apprehension, although I rarely use the phrase non-representationalist theory. But the notion that human action occurs in creative dialogue with the world as an epistemological process, even more importantly, that this interaction produces plural truths that are constantly in flux, is central to my philosophy and research practice. As described in the following section and chapters, this research project also takes up the third apprehension that performance is enactments, possibly of cultural ethos, or of theatrical impulse, or of values performed, as it were, in day-to-day activities and encounters. Finally, throughout this project I have remained keenly aware of the fourth conceptualization of performance – that is, that the process of research is a kind of performance. In Chapter 4 I will discuss the artsbased photographic method that I undertook with members of a community-based recycling project. This method was chosen in part to explicitly engage the participants as creative performers in the study, and although I did not undertake a participatory ethnology in the full sense of the phrase, it was clear that my presence had a influential effect on the participants and their recycling project so I must investigate the ways in which my own role was performative in the context of participant interaction. Performance theory has found a home in many diverse fields of study. A co-founder of performance studies, Richard Schechner, embraces the diversity of applications of 42  performance theory and suggests a broadly inclusive definition of performance that “includes[s] play, games, sports, performance in everyday life, and ritual” (1998:357). Another key figure in the establishment of performance studies, Victor Turner, characterized performance as a process of “making, not faking”, thus centring performance in a “larger view of culture as constructed, embodied, and processual” (Hamera 2006:46). Therefore we see that performance theory is an apposite pathway to take in the task of making space for embodiment in procedural sustainability work because while performance theory begins in the body, it also embraces plurality, relational meaning, and adaptivity (Schechner 2002:22). In the next section I develop a structured framework derived from performance studies literature. I expect that some performance studies scholars might resist the kind of formalization of the field I present here, but a level of structure and clarity is essential when taking on the task of interdisciplinary work that brings disparate literatures (embodiment, performance studies and sustainability studies) into conversation with one another. 2.4.1  Structured analysis from performance studies  I conducted an strategic literature review of academic publications in performance studies and other disciplines such as human geography that have taken up performance theory as a critical socio-cultural theory of human behaviour. I sought dimensions of performance that are highlighted as important by the researchers most immersed in this area of study. After identifying a list of performance dimensions from the literature review, I could see that they fall across a range of scales and types. A dimension of performance could be a property of all performances that gets taken up in the literature as a given or expected component of the performance, or a specific theatrical element that is highlighted as having a significant effect on the performance, or a key concept or idea that recurs across multiple texts about performance. Therefore, the dimensions of performance I identified are arranged into three categories, which together form a framework for structured analysis: Performance Properties, Performance Elements, and Concepts and Abstractions. These lists are not exhaustive but they are a representation of the most prominent performance dimensions commonly found in the literature. The structured framework serves as the framing device for an initial deductive analysis of the interviews and observational notes I collected with participants in both case studies. I use the framework to prepare questions for the open-ended, semi-structured 43  interviews, and subsequently to begin to sort the responses and notes into a loose coding structure. Inductive analysis followed which allowed me to follow participant interests and insights that fell outside of the structured framework from performance studies. Performance Properties are properties inherent to all performances. All performances have an author, whether it is a playwright, an improvising actor, or any model of collaborative authorship in between the two. The author controls the message of the performance; it is often politically crucial to question who has that power, to ask, “Whose story is it?” (May 2011). And all performances have an audience, though the audience may not be flesh and blood, and may be merely perceived by the performer though not actually extant. The audience could be a recording device or it could be an imagined audience, or the performer themselves. All performances are dialogic in that they create a relational bond between a performer and an audience, a correspondence of sorts. And in all performances it is possible to raise the question of authenticity, that is, what are the origins of the performance and its message, and does the performance remain true to its origins or play with the notion of veracity? Of course all of this must occur in a place and time, and the setting of a performance contributes greatly to how the performance is perceived and interpreted. While a setting is most often a physical space, changing technologies are profoundly influencing how we experience a performance in space and time, making it possible for performance to occur at a great distance from the audience. Some performances now only occur in virtual space-time, and the fact remains that the context will always contribute to, and say something about, the qualities and characteristics of the performance itself. The setting also helps indicate to the audience whether the performance is a theatrical construct for the entertainment/educational complex or an everyday performance. Performance Elements are tools and techniques that can be used during a performance to create an effect or outcome. The materials of a performance include elements of the setting (such as set design), physical props, costumes, and light and sound technologies. During a performance, many of these material elements will be taken up as material-semiotic actors that have deep social, personal, or cultural meaning, shaping our practices and attitudes (Haraway 1988). Ritual (or repetition) contains within it many overlapping concepts including rehearsal in a straightforward, theatrical sense, but also ritual as a reenactment of 44  cultural practices, and repetition in the sense of what Judith Butler calls the performativities of a person in social space (1993, 2004). Humour is a performance element that has great power to engage an audience. Humour is sometimes employed to lighten tense situations or to make difficult tasks (such as truth-telling) more bearable. In many performances there is an element of play that “articulates the (…) space in which we can act ‘as if’ and reap its experiential rewards” (Schutzman 2006:290). That is, the performance of an imaginative world can be a learning experience (Huizinga 2004). During a performance, improvisation can occur as a speech act, a movement, material use, or any number of unanticipated but influential alterations. According to Goffman (1959), everyday actions are a continuous series of minute improvisations, and Holland et. al state that “improvisations can become the basis for a reformed subjectivity” (2001:18). An archetype is kind of heuristic whereby common personality types or recognizable figures are evident in characters. An archetype performs “the expected” (Hamera 2006:50); we alternately might call this a stereotype. The archetype also contains subversive potential along the lines of Butler’s performativities (Butler 2004). Concepts and Abstractions are less tangible dimensions of our experience upon which performances do work. They can be expressed or internalized by a performer or an audience member, and the effect on concepts and abstractions during or after a performance creates a new context for future performances. At the heart of many performances is the identity of the character, performer, or audience member. Butler’s (1993) theory on identity posits that performances of identity can be either transgressive or normative – in either case a story about who we are is being shared. Memory is an “active character” of social performance (David Crouch 2003:1956) that is shaped by the inscribing practices of iterative performance on stage and in the everyday. Memory plays a leading role in the processes of cultural continuity, which speaks to the conservation or passing on of lived, embodied knowledge. Cultural continuity is closely linked to ritual and repetition. The spatial dimension of performance physically and culturally frames and defines the meaning of a performance. The relationship of space to place changes over the course of a performance, setting up dynamic relationships between people and places (Tuan 2001). “Space too needs to be thought of as brought into being through performances and as a performative articulation of power” (Gregson and G. Rose 2000:434). Performers are “intrinsically corporeal” and so their 45  performance is dependent on and responsive to the performance site in space-time (Thrift 1996:38). Together, these performance components contribute to the formation and delivery of a message, regardless of whether or not the performance is intentionally political or moral. For example, in ecodramaturgy, the message is one of “ecological reciprocity and community” (May 2011). These three categories, Performance Properties, Performance Elements, and Concepts and Abstractions, exist in dynamic and synergistic relationship to one another. Performance Elements, added to the inherent Properties of a performance, do work on Concepts and Abstractions, in turn creating an altered context for future performances. Figure 1 graphically depicts the cycle of influence through which performances with inherent properties become specified by select performance elements, and influence the concepts and abstractions that establish the context for future performances. This diagram is a mental model of how the components of a performance influence one another and dynamically interrelate, including how components of staged performances impact the ways we perform ourselves in the nontheatrical world. It provides an organizing lens that is useful for looking at performances on and beyond the stage, including everyday actions and decisions.  46  Figure 2.1 A graphical representation of the relationships of influence between Performance Properties, Elements, and Concepts and Abstractions. Although my diagram bears some resemblance and owes some credit to Schechner’s infinity loop (Schechner 1976), I agree with its critics that the infinity loop depicts an unrealistic equivalence and reciprocity between social and aesthetic drama (Turner 1980), and that staged drama influences our perception of social drama, not the actual structures of life (Rozik 2002). But it is possible to specify some of the ways in which aesthetic drama can influence our lives, and to trace rather closely the ways in which social drama supports and specifies theatrical performance. The influence diagram above clearly identifies specific aspects of aesthetic and social drama and their relationships to one another (for example, performance elements such as rituals influence abstractions such as identity and cultural continuity). As in Schechner’s infinity loop, the properties, elements, and concepts in my performance typology exist in cyclical and synergistic relationship with one another, emphasizing the fact that they are co-produced across a continuum from very formal performances to the presentation of self in everyday life (Goffman 1959).  47  A structured analysis of performances that range from staged theatrical plays to everyday routines in social and material worlds generates insights on the how, what, and why of social practices. Sustainability practices are embedded in, and are produced by, the social and cultural fabric of everyday life and have deep connections (including impacts and motivating variables) to the ecosystem processes that support life. Both the language of performance studies and research approach is intimately compatible with social practice theory that “directs research attention towards the practical accomplishment or ‘doing’ of everyday practices” (Hargreaves 2011:84) that occur in a complex entanglement of social, cultural, and material elements. Similarly, procedural sustainability that conceives of sustainability as an emergent property resulting from collaborative, deliberative processes clearly defines sustainability as a socially, culturally, and, I add, bodily mediated phenomenon (Robinson 2004, 2008). One of the major contributions of this dissertation is the novel assembly and integration of these literatures in order to begin to flesh out how sustainability is embodied and performed. I have shown here that the worldview embraced by, and common to, the concepts introduced here including sustainability as an emergent property, social practice theory, the embodiment paradigm, and performance theory, is defined by its acceptance of multiple partial knowledges and the essential need to connect theory with lived reality. The next section explores some productive connections between these literatures and approaches. 2.5  Social practices of sustainability are embodied and performative  I appreciate Horton’s suggestion that “rather than aiming to produce sustainable citizens, … it is perhaps the making of sustainable performances which should take centre stage” (Horton 2003:75). He describes a procedural ethic of practice as opposed to a substantive ethic of principles. Shifting paradigmatically away from good citizenship and toward performances of sustainability supports transformative change at a scale that is tangible and feasible, grounded in the body but still relevant to substantive goals. Framing behaviour as a result of the abstract concept ‘citizenship’ creates more distance between practices performed in the body and the anticipated sustainability outcome. I do not argue that citizenship is not present in the concept and practice of sustainability, just that it is further in space and time and somatic reflection from the spatial and temporal scale of everyday actions. As I see it, conceiving of sustainability behaviours as embodied social practices creates possibilities for  48  new perspectives on the processes of social change, on temporal and spatial relationships that inform and are produced by practices, and on our embodied connection to the material, social and cultural dimensions of the sustainable future. 2.5.1  The subversive power of performative iteration  I am very interested in how the iterative potential of performance can potentially subvert current practices of unsustainability. And I mean this both in terms of the performance of everyday activities, and in terms of how a performative act – done with intention for an audience9 – can be a transformative intervention. The performances of everyday life are “artful as well as taken-for-granted,” (Thrift 1996:18). And, in their routine iteration, everyday actions that exist in the fabric of social practices contain the power to subvert, in that, performativities contain the possibility of being done differently (Butler 1990; Cream 1995; Gregson and G. Rose 2000). Thrift invokes Garfinkel’s concept of ‘local logics’ that rise to meet the solicitations of everyday interactions with practiced skill and adaptability (Thrift 1996:18). Local logics are akin to Hetherington’s performative repertoires that are bodily practices in social space (Hetherington 2003:1935). The term repertoire indicates that bodily practices are rehearsed, garnered over time from multiple sources, and embodied when performed in the moment. Both ‘local logics’ and ‘performative repertoires’ point to the capacity for adaptation and improvisation. Practices that we undertake regularly, although routine and normative, do not lack intention or mindfulness. When a change in our material, social, or even political, environment means that a particular behaviour is no longer appropriate or sufficient, we have the capacity to revaluate and redirect a new appropriate course of action. Through artful adaptation we can replace the performative repertoires that have, in part, brought us to a point of environmental crisis.  9  Although not necessarily as a theatrical act, a performative act of sustainability that is done intentionally for an audience could be, for example, placing recyclables in a blue bin behind the house in a shared alley. The optics of this action are well understood among neighbours as a sign of pro-environmental leaning and collective participation in municipal-level initiatives. 49  2.5.2  Sustainability practices invoke and span space and time  Sustainability will likely not be achieved by a top-down process whereby scientists dictate standards that must be attained through prescribed behaviours (Blake 1999; Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002; Shove 2010). Our values and beliefs must be addressed and integrated into a vision for the sustainable future that meets the needs and desires of the population while satisfying the biophysical limitations of the earth. This necessitates a participatory process that brings together multiple stakeholders, hears multiple voices, and collectively defines the shape of the future (Robinson 2003, 2004; Robinson and Tansey 2006; Carlsson-Kanyama et al. 2008). Values, beliefs, and their modes of expression change over time and space, and the pathway to sustainability must be responsive to these shifts or risk losing buy-in from the population. Earlier I presented the case that embodiment is historicized and evolves in spacetime; the sustainability problem is in part a problem of historicization and space-time mobility particularly because the temporal and spatial scales of global climate effects are so far out of reach of our sensory experience. Hastrup describes the significance of temporal scales for understanding social practices thus: “Stressing the performative rather than the semantic or cognitive aspects of social worlds is – among other things – to acknowledge the prominence of time and temporality in their make-up” (Hastrup 2007:193). The spatiotemporal scalar issue directly impacts our need as sustainability professionals to somehow create bridges between the vast scale of climate change and the intimate scale of embodied experience. It begs the question how can sustainability professionals draw people into a meaningful dialogue with a dynamic system so far beyond our immediate somatic understanding? Potentially the arts, replete with imaginative possibility and transcendent tendencies, offer a site for exploring those relationships and building improved capacity for engagement10 (Dieleman 2008; Kagan 2011; Thrift 1999b; Thrift and Dewsbury 2000). Finally, this leads to the problem of building empathic connection across scales and between disparate entities.  10  Chapters 4 and 5 focus on some processes and implications of employing arts-based methods for engagement on sustainability issues with communities. 50  2.5.3  Empathic understanding, connectivity  A powerful characteristic of embodiment is our capacity to feel beyond the body, with the body. We are able to empathically understand the plights and experiences of others with visceral depth and often without first hand experience of the same. Of course, this does not always happen, and the scales of time and distance play a role in whether or not a connection – an identification with the other – can be forged11. But when it is, it is powerful and compelling. Milton associates the process of identification with empathic concern for the other: “Identification makes morality redundant because we care for ourselves, and whatever is a part of ourselves, by inclination without the need for moral exhortation” (Milton 2002:75). Empathic understanding, or what some might call intersubjectivity, is not limited to the human realm but can extend outward to involve non-human entities in ecologies of care. This may seem a naïve argument to some such as Hay (2005) who points to the numerous ways in which we fail to care for ourselves or our environments in contemporary Western society, but empathic understanding is the seed of an ecology of perception in which embodied experiences with the world can build a moral obligation to the environment. There are numerous programs and research projects that foster and study (respectively) the link between affective responses to natural systems and the influence direct experiences of nature can have on pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours12. Immersive programs aim to leverage the power of embodied experience to create affective connections between people and landscapes, animals and plant life. Logistically, immersive programs that take urbanites on wilderness adventures can only reach a relatively small portion of the population, therefore it makes sense to me that we should also begin to unpack our embodied connection to sustainability from the other direction, as it were. In addition to promoting embodied  11  For an exceptional piece of research on the effects of scale on perceptions of risk and justice in climate change debates and practices see (Klinsky 2010). 12 Programs such as Outward Bound Canada (www.outwardbound.ca) seek to provide participants (mostly youth, and mostly from urban areas and/or underprivileged populations) with immersive experiences in Canada’s wilderness. The program aim is to challenge participants to learn more about themselves and about the natural environment. Outward Bound and other such programs are premised on the power of direct experiences of nature to influence pro-environmental values and behaviour, as developed in the field of Environmental Psychology (see for example Bell et al. 2005). For more examples of academic work on the influence of direct versus indirect experiences on environmental values, attitudes and behaviour see (Kellert 2002; Thøgersen 2002; Duerden and Witt 2010). 51  connections to nature and therefore to sustainability efforts, I think it is also possible to enrich sustainability work with an embodied perspective. In light of this, my dissertation project goes beyond the conventional approach of promoting behaviour change by information provision to demonstrate a research practice that is embodied, creative, collaborative, and reflexive. 2.6  Where does this take us?  The dearth of behaviour change in response to sustainability-related information provision strategies in recent decades is a clear indication that something is missing. While meaning is created first and foremost through somatic interactions with the world, the precognitive, prelingual sense of being-in-the-world is absent in most sustainability research. The embodiment paradigm affords a new approach to sustainability studies, one that values our corporeal relation to the world at the heart of the sustainability transition. Embodied praxis has rarely been included in sustainability work to date in part because it resists translation into language, the almost exclusive form of academic communication. We need a vehicle or access point into the embodied experience in order to gain insight of embodied social practices of sustainability. Performance studies is a field of research focused on meaning created and communicated with the body and through gestures. The fluid and adaptive nature of performance theory (and its demonstrated relationship to social practice theory and the embodiment paradigm) position this field of inquiry as an appropriate and strategic framing device for studying sustainability practices. 2.6.1  Empirical work and case selection  In the next chapter, Chapter 3, I test the waters in using performance theory as a critical lens on performances of sustainability on stage and in the everyday by studying a theatrical group who perform a play about climate change and sustainability options while living a collective, sustainable lifestyle. They travel by bicycle, barter for organic food, and work through the intricacies of communal living. Otesha Project members are already undertaking performance as a form of intervention through their participation in the performing and cycling tour. Their continued investment in iterative and performative social practices satisfies the ‘experimental imperative’ of the material and performance turns described in this 52  chapter, which I strongly endorse. Because every day of the tour they participate fully in activities similar to the kinds of research methods called for here, the research methods I employ adhere to standard social science methods of interview and observation. Overall their longer-term active process plus my interviews and analysis form a complete embodied research methodology applied to social sustainability practices. I apply the performance typology developed in this chapter to explore what interplay exists between the group’s experiences performing a play of prescriptive sustainability behaviours and their experiences embodying sustainability in the performance of everyday tasks in camp and on the road. For example, does embodied understanding of sustainability created by performing on stage translate to off stage practices, or vice versa? What is the effect on their perceptions and practices of sustainability, if any, of embodying multiple performative layers throughout the course of the tour? Then in Chapter 4 the methodological implications of shifting paradigms from conventional sustainability research premised on rational choice models of behaviour to sustainability research that is embodied, procedural, and emergent are taken up with a participant group. Working with members of a small recycling program, we employ a photographic method of data generation. Giving participants cameras and asking them to demonstrate their experience of the recycling program through acts of photography requires participants to creatively contribute to the study and invites reflexive practice. They perform on many levels, as research subjects and as creative researchers, as employees and as unique individuals. Although the anticipated outcomes of the photographic project include practical findings and implementable strategies to improve the recycling program, I am most interested to find out how participation in the photographic project affected participants’ conceptions and practices of sustainability. Acting as photographers charged with imaging their own daily experiences creates space for participants to reflect on their prereflective body consciousness, to pause and open up the embodied moment.  53  Chapter 3: Bikes, choices, action! Performances of sustainability by a travelling theatre group 3.1  Introduction  A performative event is an opportunity for learning about our own values and the perspectives of others, and, within the context of sustainability, the performative event is a space for creatively exploring the conflicts and synergies that arise in the sustainability movement. Delving deeper into how sustainability practices are embodied as performances in a tangible, somatic way provides a visceral understanding of what the sustainability transition means in everyday life, in the body and the body politic. Animating sustainability praxis with somatic embodied experiences that are richly nuanced, full of affective potential, and sensuousness can potentially influence the discourse, policies, and infrastructures that promote and facilitate sustainability practices through a greater focus on the practice scale of action where embodiment is at its most potent. This approach recognizes the procedural aims of sustainability, where, rather than aiming at global-scale imperatives that are expertlydefined and merely conveyed to the rest of the population, sustainability emerge from the intersection of expert and non-expert practices and discourses. Framing sustainability praxis (that is, the lived reality that practice and discourse blur together) in a performance lens powerfully locates sustainability at the nexus of social, material, and cultural forces at the level of embodied social practice. In this chapter I consider the embodied performances of sustainability of a theatre group, The Otesha Project Performing and Cycling Tour, who travel around British Columbia, Canada, by bicycle while learning about and performing a play about sustainability. On-stage and off, Otesha tour members embody multiple ‘performances’ of sustainability. Their experiences as cyclists, actors, eaters, community members, and individuals during the tour provide opportunities for tour members to embody and explore alternative identities, practices, and political positions. The day-to-day practices of Otesha members influence their staged performance of the Otesha play and vice versa. In other words, the dynamic relationship between the group’s social drama and the aesthetic drama they perform for audiences creates a new context for the group’s performances of embodied sustainability (cf. Schechner 1976). 54  The purpose of this chapter is to investigate how the multiple layers of ‘performing sustainability’ affect the sustainability values and practices of tour members. The performance typology developed in Chapter 2 (Section 2.4.1) was used as a structuring device for analysis of the empirical data collected during my engagement with the Otesha group. The findings in this chapter are distinctly not about how the audience changes as a result of the theatrical performance; rather I aim to position the performance act as a kind of intervention that can potentially alter the actors’ sustainability-related perceptions and practices. This is described by the nebulous space within performance where the performer has the chance to play ‘as if’ they were someone or something other than themselves, and through playing potentially discover something about themselves or their situation (Schutzman 2006). While my research focus is not on the audience’s experience, their presence and reaction can influence the both the performer and, therefore, the performance. Performance is a space of fluid engagement between the things and the people who share it. Dewsbury describes the critical space of interactivity in performance in this way: “Performances are venturesome couplings – of carpenter and wood; the companionship of dog and human; the relationship between a crocodile and a bird – that are creative in that they negotiate the new, enabling ways to ‘go on’” (2000:493). Note that here Dewsbury is not focussed on describing the specific space of theatrical performance, but performance in Goffman-esque terms that denote the kinds of performances of self-in-the-world we enact everyday (cf. Goffman 1959). Performances on stage and off stage share this sense of mutual becoming, this ‘venturesome coupling’ between performer and space, performer and audience, and of course performer and co-performer. I aim to establish a better understanding of the co-production of performances of sustainability along the continuum of staged and everyday performances; studying the performances of people who straddle the two ends of the continuum should reveal the greatest insights. As I have already stated, members of the Otesha Performing and Cycling Tour certainly perform a kind of sustainability on stage but they also embody another kind of sustainability off stage among themselves and when in contact with members of the public. This layered performative multiplicity makes their case a  55  particularly interesting one to study as an example of how the act of performance can interrupt and influence a person’s perspective and practices. 3.1.1  The Otesha Project performing and cycling tour  The Otesha Project is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 and headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario (The Otesha Project 2012). Otesha sends groups of ten to fifteen people between the ages of eighteen and thirty on bicycle tours of Canadian regions. Over the course of two months, and covering approximately 1500 kilometres, tour members combine “sustainable living, community building, theatre, leadership training and phenomenal bike touring” (The Otesha Project 2012). Each member must contribute (in 2008) approximately $1500 Cdn in order to join the tour. The money is pooled and used to pay for food purchases, accommodation costs, and other group necessities. Members carry all their personal gear in panniers and everyday a tour member volunteers to tow communal items such as cook pots on a bike trailer. Tours often stop at provincial campgrounds where the performance is bartered as entertainment for other campers for the cost of the campsite. Other performance spaces include community centres and school gymnasiums. The Otesha Project sends multiple tour groups out every summer across different regions of Canada. Near the end of August 2008, I met up with the Sunshine Coast performing and cycling tour as they neared the end of their two-month cycle journey that began in Vancouver, rode north up the Sunshine Coast, moved west through the Gulf Islands, and finished by travelling across and down Vancouver Island to Victoria. I visited them at their campsite outside of Victoria for an afternoon before their performance in an outdoor amphitheatre, filmed their performance, and met them the next day to film their performance in a community gymnasium in Victoria. Eleven people participated in the tour, and I conducted open-ended, semi-structured interviews by phone with five of them approximately one month after the tour ended. I also interviewed an Otesha project manager in Ottawa by phone to learn about the how play performed by the group developed. The empirical data collected thus includes six audio recorded phone interviews, observations made while interacting with the group over two days, and video footage of the play performed in two different venues. All interviewees from the tour group agreed to be identified by name, so throughout this chapter you will hear from Nashira, Nicola, Leanne, Derek, and Rachel. 56  Off stage, tour group members interacted with members of the public in many ways. While staying at campsites, one of the afternoon jobs was for tow Oetsha members to circulate around the campground and invite other campers to the evening’s performance. They announced the performance, described The Otesha Project in a few words, and sometimes answered questions posed to them about the play or the group. During the tour, three tour members were responsible for shopping for groceries as they had signing authority on the group’s credit card provided by tour organizers. They interacted with shop employees and sometimes store owners when asking for donations of food that was not going to be sold. The most common form of interaction with non-Otesha people was on days when the group cycled from one location to the next. They often had conversations with people at rest stops and tourist venues, and were regularly approached by other cyclists curious about the group. The majority of tour members had very little experience with performing before participating in Otesha, and most of them said that they had prior interest in environmental and sustainability engagement but claimed to be relatively unknowledgeable. On stage, this tour group premiered a new Otesha play “Reason to Dream” that is loosely based on a ‘ghosts of the past, present, and future’ narrative. Billy, a middle-school aged boy, is the central protagonist who falls asleep, and in his dream is shown the horrors of relentless development, unfettered consumption, the effects of climate change, and resource disparity. His guide then shows him alternative practices he could make in his own life to help be the change he wants to see in the world. Although the guide in Billy’s dream has an authoritative role, the voice of authority that delivers didactic messages about pro-sustainability behaviours shifts between actors and characters, and in some scenes is animated by the entire company. “Reason to Dream” was developed in part because of reaction from previous tour members who felt the original play was overly prescriptive. It was criticised for being dialogue-heavy and for presenting a very ‘black and white’ view of the issues. The new play was intended to be more positive by focusing on conscientious consumption rather than the focus on careless consumption in the original play that members perceived to be a negative framing. “Reason to Dream” would be more physical in order to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ the story of conscientious consumption, and the side benefits of pro-environmental behaviours would be 57  highlighted in order to take the message beyond simply the moral issue to more tangibly felt positive effects. For example, in one scene between the protagonist Billy and his manager at the grocery store, the manager reacts to Billy’s suggestion that they use cloth bags instead of paper or plastic bags by musing that the move “might even save us money!” “Reason to Dream” is largely scripted but the original group who developed the play hoped that each tour would improvise and to make it their own over time and therefore evolve the play from the script. It was thought this would increase buy-in among tour members, which in turn would improve their performances of the play. “Reason to Dream” seeks a balance between being earnest and sometimes light-hearted to keep the interest of the audience with highs and lows, facts and entertainment. The play portrays quite a strong moral message, and presents a highly substantive message that sustainability will be achieved through specific actions that reduce environmental harm and help address issues of eco-justice and resource disparity13. 3.2  Embodying and performing sustainability, on stage and off  To help understand the complex social, economic, ecological, and cultural dynamics experienced by tour members as performers of embodied sustainability, I connect their experiences on stage performing the play about sustainability-oriented choices to the ways in which they perform sustainability off stage as members of an intentional collective that seek to embody sustainability in daily life. Through the loose coding I performed with the use of my performance typology I identified three major themes in the data: the material-ecological necessities of sustainability performances, adaptability and improvisation, and tensions that arise during transformation. The three narrative themes do not map onto the three categories in the performance typology (i.e., performance properties, performance elements, and concepts and abstractions, see Section 2.4.1), however there is a clear epistemological relationship between the material-ecological necessities theme and performance elements that specify and particularise performances, and good connectivity between the tensions that 13  In the intervening years since I worked with the 2008 Sunshine Coast Tour, a highly interactive theatrical approach has been adopted by The Otesha Project. The new theatrical piece, called “Taking Action”, combines scripted theatre with improv to depict the environmental dilemmas of three central characters. Audiences brainstorm solutions and are strongly engaged in creating dialogue around environmental issues during the theatre event, and in participatory workshops following the play and led by Otesha members. Although I have not experienced their new approach myself, its description sounds to be much more in line with the premises of procedural sustainability and far less focused on one-way prescriptive information flow (Robinson 2004, 2008 also cf. Chapter 2 Section 2.2.2). 58  arise in transformation and the concepts and abstractions that are shaped by, and in turn shape, performances. The remaining narrative theme in this chapter, adaptivity and improvisation, speaks to the iterative nature of performances and the potential for emergent change. In many ways, this theme encapsulates the cyclical and synergistic character of the performance typology. While a possible alternative strategy was to present the findings here in a list-like manner stepping through each performance property, element, and concept or abstraction in the typology, my sense is that it would not have made for good reading, nor would such an approach convey to the reader how integratively the performance dimensions play out across the activities and experiences of Otesha tour members. Instead, my strategy in this chapter is to present the findings in the three major narrative themes, identifying throughout the links between the Otesha group’s experiences and the theory developed in Chapter 2. Under each theme, I present stories from the group around the theme to expose and orient the reader to their adventures and experiences, framing the discussion with the terms and theoretical framing of performance theory and the embodiment paradigm. I conclude with a discussion of how the performance lens and embodiment theory provide insight into their experiences of performing and embodying sustainability, and where this kind of work points in terms of fruitful directions for sustainability research and sustainability practices in general. 3.2.1  Material-environmental influences  From an embodiment perspective, the obvious beginning for this analysis is at the interface between our bodies and the world where we practice “the work of getting on from day-today” (Latham 2003:1998). Just as any group endeavour or individual practice involves the interaction of multiple embodied social practices, The Otesha Sunshine Coast performing and cycling tour could be seen as a series of material-environmental entanglements such as the communal purchase, preparation and consumption of food, and the impact of stage configurations for each theatrical performance. Some of the material-environmental entanglements were planned or at least expected by tour organizers and group members, while others were encountered (or emerged) along the way. In some ways, this theme maps relatively well onto the performance elements dimension distinguished in the performance typology, in that the material engagements of tour members define and refine their specific 59  performances of social practices. However, as indicated above, connections between Otesha’s material-ecological entanglements will be made to many performance dimensions, including properties, elements, and concepts and abstractions. The most significant physical dimension of the group’s tour is the hours upon hours, and miles upon miles of cycling. Signing up for a performing and cycling tour, one must have some level of understanding of what the cycling component entails, but many of the tour members did not arrive at the tour with extensive cycling experience. Still, they arrived informed, at least with the cognitive information, that there would be a lot of riding involved in the two-month tour. For some of the less experienced cyclists, visceral embodied understanding of how that reality felt in the body was a little shocking. The bodily experience of sitting for many hours while pedalling, and the additional reality of carrying the weight of their home on their bikes in panniers, produced unexpected effects for many of them. While I was visiting the group at their campsite, I heard them talking repeatedly about ‘Alices’. Confused because there was no one in the group named Alice, I eventually asked for an explanation. ‘Alluces’, they explained, is group jargon for ass calluses that build up over many days and weeks of being in the bicycle saddle. I am sure I turned a little red with their explanation (that was only provided after exchanging sidelong glances with one another), however their shared practice of cycling and therefore dealing with the discomforts, aches, and pains of repetitive physical labour allowed them to share such tales of corporeal woe freely with one another, which outsiders might find to be crass or disgusting. As ‘alluses’ built up over time and repetition, so too did the embodied skills of cycling accumulate over their prolonged endeavour. Even those tour members who had more extensive prior experience with cycle touring acknowledged that their level of skill and comfort increased over the summer, and many of those interviewed relayed that they now have other ambitions for integrating cycling into their urban lifestyle, and for future cycle touring. Three months after his time with the tour group ended, Derek left on an eight-month solo cycle tour from Vancouver to Manitoba…by way of Columbia! While tour members developed their identities as cyclists through their material engagement with bicycles, tires, asphalt, and other material elements involved in performing cycling, the material content and context of a performance can have great power above and beyond the 60  use of props. Because the group was constantly moving between locations, they had to adjust to a new venue for every performance. Staging arrangements sometimes profoundly influenced the success of the performance: for example, according to one member, an enclosed built environment like a gymnasium was more likely to establish a captive audience. Not only were audience members less likely to leave the performance (perhaps because their departure from a lit room would be more obvious than from an open-air amphitheatre) but the indoor configuration of walls, lights, and behaviour expectations contributed to the group seeing higher audience engagement inside than outside. I witnessed this between the two performances I attended, one being at an outdoor amphitheatre and one in a community gym. At the amphitheatre, the audience always seemed to be in flux with people arriving and leaving throughout the performance. I felt that the actors were struggling a bit to keep the audience’s attention. Derek says plainly, “We got really used to performing outdoors. You’ve just gotta yell loud.” The spatial configuration of the outdoor amphitheatre seems to be a more permeable one, in that people can come and go, flit in and out of the space by slipping between the trees, and voices from the stage waft up and away. The performance in the gymnasium, on the other hand, felt much more contained and focused. Some audience members arrived late but no one slipped out early, and children, who sat on the ground near the front at both performances, appeared more captivated by the performance indoors than at the campground amphitheatre. It is, perhaps, ironic that an ecotheatre group would experience greater heights of performance inside than outside, and the phenomenon raises an interesting question about our expectations of learning environments. The physical characteristics of the performance space thus not only strongly influenced the performers’ abilities to craft a compelling performance but also the audience’s capacity for attention and engagement. It may be that it is not only a matter of walls doing a better job of containing people than trees, but also that people who escape the city for a weekend of camping are seeking respite from structure and rules. With that "escape mentality" they may find it easier to physically walk away from an outdoor theatre event. The second material-environmental engagement I want to discuss was a source of social connection and turmoil for group members: food. Every Otesha tour member I interviewed identified food as a pivotal and sometimes polarizing topic for the group. This is not 61  surprising since any discussion of the material-ecological necessities of human life that are deeply implicated in the transition to sustainability would be severely incomplete without broaching the topic of food. Where food and climate change intersect we see serious issues of global food security and disparity in a changing climate, global food chains and the impact of food transportation on rising pollution levels, and heated debates about the merits of organic agriculture, pesticides, monoculture versus polyculture farming, to name but a few. The Otesha group grappled with all these issues in their attempt to eat ‘sustainably’ while making decisions as an intentional collective and cycle-touring extensively in sometimes isolated regions. Haraway (1988) calls objects with significant socio-cultural meaning "semioticmaterial actors" that can crystallize the complex relationships between people and the morethan-human; the unarguable necessity and subjectivity of food in all cultures mark food stuffs as among the most powerful semiotic-material actors and, consequently, Otesha members took decisions and actions around food very seriously. In the Otesha play, food figures strongly as a site where consumers have the power to make informed decisions that influence the world’s food system. The unsustainable origins of many foods commonly enjoyed by North Americans and sustainable alternatives are depicted in sometimes humorous and sometimes grave scenes. For example, in one comic scene actors playing cows react with loud indignation to being injected with steroids, while in a heartwrenching scene dead birds fall out of the sky after pesticide is applied to fruit trees. Off stage, around the campsite, food was at the top of the list of topics around which argument and tension centred, as Nashira describes: Food was definitely…it was the arena in which a lot of our focus for how sustainably we were living ended up? As well as where a lot of group issues came up. Because we had a shared budget and also because that was the one mandatory shared experience, other than the play, basically. People could ride at different speeds, people could buy different snacks on the road, people could take different amounts of time to get places, that kind of thing. But at the end of the day we all had to sit down and prepare and eat and clean up from a meal. (…) Food is a really highly charged environmental issue! (Nashira)  62  One episode in particular highlights the deeply meaningful and complex role food played as a site of conflict during the tour. While shopping for food using the collective funds, one tour member, Nicola, bought herself a banana. She said she was finding it difficult to eat enough dense energy foods to keep up the energy necessary for the tour, so she bought what she considers to be a natural source of dense food energy – a banana. Having done a lot of competitive sports, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about sustaining myself physically, and it involves a lot of, you know, a lot of self-care. So nutritionally you have to be very wary: are you eating enough? Are you eating all the time? Are you drinking enough? You know, the sort of things that keep humans alive, from a physical perspective. So I paid a lot of attention to that. (Nicola) Her purchase caused uproar among other members who rejected her justification for buying the banana. They accused her of complicity in high food miles and crop monocultures. For the buyer, the banana’s nutritive value made it possible for her to keep up with the group and actively participate as an energetic member. Here another tour member, Rachel, recounts the episode from her perspective: One of the most memorable evenings was way in the beginning, probably like the first week, and Nicola had gone grocery shopping and she’d purchased bananas. And it was this huge thing and we had a long, long meeting, and (…) we had this large discussion about ‘how could we do that? That doesn’t fit with our image – we’re so hypocritical.’ I guess it wasn’t even about sustainability. It was more about our image of sustainability, which is a whole ‘nother way of performing sustainability. (Rachel) As for Nicola’s explanation for the purchase, Rachel says, For our budget, which was a huge limiting factor, due to our budget this was packed with the most nutrition. Even though it might be full of pesticides and the people that produce it aren’t treated well and it has to travel thousands of miles… For these two months, at least, it should be allowable. But we ended up – well, we never bought bananas again.  63  In this episode, a pivotal object and semiotic-material actor – the banana – opened a discontinuity between the tour member’s corporeal and social needs by challenging or breaking the sustainability-themed behavioural code established by the group. In his study of ‘green’ cultural codes among English environmental activists, Horton observes that often codes of sustainable behaviour are “neither so rigid, mechanical and determining as rules, nor so free and voluntaristic as options” (2003:72). Whether it is accomplished through an explicit conversation or is the result of emerging social norms, the behavioural codes established by a group define what is acceptable and what actions break the code. In most communities the behavioural code is a script that allows room for a level of personal agency and improvisation in the performance of the code. For instance, in Horton’s study, he notes that while the green codes in his study community of a largely rural area of Lancaster, England, dictates that travel by foot, bicycle, or public transit are the only acceptable ‘green’ means of transport, for people who have chosen to live on farmland and grow their own food it is acceptable to own and operate a car because otherwise their isolation would be almost total. Horton’s construction of codes and scripts has a direct relationship to performativity: ecoidentities are shaped through iterative and repetitive practices, such as attending rallies and growing vegetables, and eco-identities are challenged and expanded by the performative practice of driving a car to facilitate an otherwise green lifestyle. In the context of my performance typology, cultural continuity is maintained even though the performance element changes (the car rather than another mode of transport), and future performances of eco-identity are influenced by this minor change. In the Otesha episode, Nicola chose to fuel her body in the best way she knew how on a limited budget, and accepted the trade off that this was not a morally good, ‘green’ choice. While enacting the local logic of cycling within an “intentional mobile community” (The Otesha Project 2012), Nicola’s rupture from the group performance when she bought an unsustainable food choice confronted the group’s collective identity by bringing into play questions of personal, corporeal sustainability. Whether or not the banana is always an unsustainable choice was not debated14, and the rest  14  A recent publication that makes an in-depth, integrated analysis of the ecofootprint of bananas and other items of consumption claims that bananas (with certain qualifiers like ‘organic’) are not nearly as poor a choice 64  of the group adhered to normative statements about sustainable food consumption like those depicted in “Reason To Dream”, while the banana buyer adapted the script of her performance to ensure her participation in the group was sustainable. Her performance of personal sustainability subverted the group’s collective performance. Similar to the socio-cultural context of behavioural codes described by Horton, our emotions exist in a social context where we learn what are appropriate reactions (i.e., what to fear, what to find humorous, etc.), therefore emotions can aide in “transmitting cultural values, but also in undermining them” (Milton 2002:69). The larger group’s emotional response to the banana purchase was filled with accusation and anger, possibly with the intent to cause Nicola to feel ashamed of her choice. Citing Naess, the founder of the Deep Ecology movement, Milton states clearly that morality is a “treacherous basis for ecology” (Milton 2002:74) as it urges people to act in ways that can be perceived as against their own interests or selfishly only in the interest of another entity. In a later comment, Nicola disputes the moral argument made by her fellow group members as being overly simplistic and not adequately contextualized. She incorporates the economic concerns of other Canadians to better contextualize how food decisions are made in everyday practice: It’s almost a privilege to participate in the environmental movement. There’s a lot of Canadians, even, in this world who can’t imagine thinking about whether something is local or organic because frankly they don’t know if they have enough money to pay the bills. (Nicola) As a kind of therapy, the group attempted to workshop the banana episode into a new scene for the play. This undertaking could be seen as a form of performative reflexivity. In Conquergood’s terms, Performative reflexivity is a condition in which a sociocultural group, or its most perceptive members acting representatively, turn, bend or reflect back upon themselves, upon the relations, actions, symbols, meanings, codes, roles, statuses,  as most people assume when it comes to the negative effects of monocultures, pesticides, and food miles (Berners-Lee 2010). 65  social structures, ethical and legal rules, and other sociocultural components which make up their public selves. (Conquergood 2006:360) Performative reflexivity describes a process of working through an issue with the performance-building tools such as narrative, plot, character development, and denouement or resolution. This method has been used very successfully by public theatre groups such as Headlines Theatre in Vancouver (Headlines Theatre 2012), and as academic research – most notably in cultural geography (see for example Pratt 2000). Performative reflexivity requires patience, iteration, and open dialogue. Unfortunately the Otesha group’s workshopping process did not resolve the disagreement enough to make it work. One tour member said, “we could have delved more deeply into [the banana episode] but it became difficult to talk about without blame and guilt.” Feeling unable to engage in the issue with the affective depth required, the result of the performative workshopping process was, as Derek describes it, “really just like a bunch of info that we figured most people knew already. And kind of preachy.” Although their staged performance of sustainable food choices in “Reason to Dream” was unproblematic throughout the tour, the banana episode highlights the difficulty they experienced in trying to embody what cognitively seem like the ‘right’ choices while juggling the bodily demands of everyday life. The banana episode illustrates the dynamic nature of decision-making for the future that is inherently tied up with context and personality, and which is a constant negotiation between personal choice and social norms. 3.2.2  Adaptability and improvisation  The second theme adaptability and improvisation takes up what emerges as a dynamic force that shapes and shifts the sustainability practices of Oetsha members on stage and off. In regards to the performance typology, I list improvisation as a performance element that can be deployed as a theatrical technique in order to achieve a particular theatrical or narrative outcome. Its appearance in this theme should not be interpreted as a close look at one specific performance element of the typology. Rather what I found in the accounts of interviewees is that where the qualities of adaptability and improvisation were encountered along the tour highlighted a fascinating tension they felt between the didactic message portrayed in “Reason to Dream” and the negotiated and necessarily adaptive embodied experience of sustainability practice off stage. Including adaptability and improvisation as a major narrative theme 66  emphasises the iterative and cyclical dynamic relationships between performance properties, elements, and concepts and abstractions. Adaptability and improvisation are highly valued in the procedural and emergent form of sustainability, and in fact their presence makes an essential distinction between the substantive approach and the procedural approach: that life is lived at the dynamic confluence of many forces (material, social, cultural, etc.) and emerges from their particular arrangements and enactment. Our ability and willingness to adapt our lifestyles, and our methods for deciding upon and enacting change, define our capacity for resilience. In Grosz's terms, by “enabling the unexpected” (1999:25) to influence our actions on the small scale of everyday activities, we create opportunities for embodied improvisations to refigure social structures and practices (David Crouch 2003). We encounter the world with established yet evolving performative repertoires, which are embodied practices that are rehearsed, garnered over time from multiple sources, and that respond to the particular contexts of the moment (Dewsbury 2000; Hetherington 2003). In this way our ability to adapt to the world around us is a series of smaller and larger improvisations that call upon the performative repertoires we each acquire over time and that open up the “reconfiguring, or reconstitutive, potential of performance” (David Crouch 2003:1947). Performativity is defined, “not by its abiding identity or principle of sameness over time, but through its capacity to undergo permutations and transformations, that is, its dimensionality” (Grosz 1994a:192; as cited in Dewsbury 2000:477). The performative is our potential to carry forward established and iterated performances into the present moment, and to perform a refiguring, a rupturing of the past through our performance in the present. This occurs through improvisation and adaptation, two fundamental characteristics of how we learn and develop in life. They are essential components of sustainability as an emergent system. The developers of the play recognised the importance for actors to express some agency in the making of the play and so “Reason to Dream” was developed with an open structure so that performers could make it their own through improvisation and small rewritings. Interestingly, the 2008 Sunshine Coast tour members decided collectively to limit the amount of improvisation that occurred on stage. Some members felt that improvisation incurred the risk that others would miss their lines, or burst into laughter. While some of their resistance 67  to on-stage improvisation is likely the result of performance anxiety (only two of the eleven group members had some previous experience with theatre), their reluctance to improvise on stage may also be a reflection of the vast amount of improvisation required of tour members as they navigated cycle routes and responded to the constant challenges of establishing their community in new locations, and encountering positive and negative reactions to their endeavour. The play provided some of the most structured moments during the tour, and in the face of so much necessary improvisational coping off stage, members found security in the predictable repetition of their roles on stage. Off stage, because they were riding nearly every day to a new location, tour members worked hard to create a home-like space as they travelled, transforming space into place through the routine and iterative practices they established as a community at each campsite (Tuan 2001). Too often, dramaturgical metaphors suggest performance occurs in a place – reduced to a fixed, if ambient, container. We should instead see places from the perspective of a performance that takes them up and transforms them, redeploys them and connects them through metonymic relationships, or what de Certeau called spatial stories (1984). (Coleman and Crang 2002:10) The routine-ness of these practices was often, paradoxically, highly improvisatory. For example, after the disappearance of some kitchen utensils, one tour member carved cooking new utensils from wood found around the campsite. His improvisation adapted the embodied skill of wood whittling to provide a material necessity to the group. Tour members also had to get creative with their food budget because, as I recounted earlier, the high cost of making organic and local food purchases revealed to her how much sustainable food is a privilege that is only available to high-income earners. For their group, saving money on food for example “involved picking berries for the cereal so we didn’t have to buy them” (Nicola). By picking berries on the roadside and accepting food that was nearly spoiled as a donation from grocers, she helped supplement the meagre six dollars a day per person food budget that was not sufficient for purchasing enough fuel for the active cyclists. Edwards (2006) describes adaptations and improvisations as critical acts of inquiry. When the adaptation is an embodied behaviour, it is an actively embodied mode of inquiry into how 68  we inhabit and engage with the world around us. Through iterative acts and reflexive practice, “improvisation can become the basis for a reformed subjectivity” (Holland et al. 2001:18). Tour members performed hundreds if not thousands of improvisations over the course of the tour and through such adaptations gained perspective on how difficult and perplexing the transition to a sustainable future might be, and on how resourceful, creative, and resilient they could be in the face of change and adversity. 3.2.3  Tensions in transformation  The Otesha tour experience was overwhelmingly positive for all tour members I interviewed, but the opportunity to play roles on stage that are perhaps uncomfortable, for instance, an avid environmentalist playing the role of a forester approving a clear cut, and off stage to publicly take a stand for a sustainable future by participating in the cycle tour, did create some tensions for group members. Tour members dealt with intergenerational tension, questions of identity, and complex group dynamics as they navigated around Canada’s Sunshine Coast region. This theme maps particularly well onto the concepts and abstraction dimensions of the performance typology, while of course it also calls upon dimensions from the performance properties and elements as I discussed at the outset of Section 3.2. Tensions experienced by group members during their transformation to sustainability15 influenced their senses of identity and cultural continuity, and raised issues around the message they wanted to perform for audiences, onstage and off. While on tour, Otesha members perform sustainability in multiple ways. Reciprocally, multiple audiences are created during the tour, including audiences who gather to watch the play, people who encounter the group cycling along the road or camped at provincial parks, and tour members act as audiences for one another in day-to-day life throughout the tour. There are also imagined audiences who are not present on the tour, such as families and friends at home, but whose imagined reactions to Otesha performances influence tour members while they are on the road. For example, over the course of the tour, one tour member gained a deeper understanding of the dialogic power of her performance in relation  15  This is in no way a claim that they have completed the transition to sustainability, it is more an acknowledgement that they developed and grew as sustainability practitioners over the course of the tour, and learned important lessons about the negotiated nature of sustainability practices. 69  to her mother, who did not attend a single staged performance. In “Reason to Dream”, this tour member acted the role of a wasteful but generous parent whose son undergoes a significant realization and behaviour change in the name of sustainability. Off stage she began to realize that the tension she felt with her own mother might be based in what her mother perceived to be a rejection of the comfortable life she worked hard to provide for her daughter. The performer’s temporary embodied experience as a mother from a previous generation that espoused different values exposed the intergenerational tension we sometimes see in response to calls for changes in consumer behaviour and sustainability practices. This suggests two things, that empathetic understanding may be a powerful component of the sustainability transformation, and that some kind of embodied performative experience may enable empathetic understanding of the experiences of others that may ease some of the tensions of transformation. Prior to the tour, tour members collectively had far more experience engaging with environmental issues than with theatrical performance, but many tour members related to me how uncomfortable they felt playing an authority figure on environmental issues while both on and off stage. One tour member, Rachel, said that when joining the tour she sought the transformative experience she had heard about from previous Otesha members. She says, “I want an inspiring experience like that!” Unfortunately, instead of a transformative awakening, she felt awkward and ill prepared to perform the role of informed environmentalist. She did not feel that she was adequately educated for the task. Her focus on education as a marker of preparedness for performance indicates to me that she interpreted Otesha’s pro-sustainability message to be a series of normative statements about what is good and what is bad based on expert scientific knowledge (i.e., one-way flow of authoritative knowledge from performers to audience). Without a clear and informed understanding of such statements as they were relevant to her own personal experience, she felt dishonest representing an authority figure for audiences. Although Rachel felt she was prematurely forced into the role of authority figure, we must remember from Butler that through the iteration of performances, what are taken to be ‘natural’ roles can be destabilized during performance (Butler 2004; Dewsbury 2000; Gregson and G. Rose 2000). Conversely, it also follows that unnatural roles can begin to feel 70  natural over time. For example, Nicola recounted that before she joined Otesha she was afraid to call herself an environmentalist because the identity made her vulnerable to attack. After the tour, she was much more comfortable taking on the environmentalist identity in part because of her experience of success embodying the environmentalist identity on tour, but also in part because she felt a newfound freedom to adopt or let go of identities over her lifetime. This flexibility may be the result of playing ‘as if’ she was a host of different identities on stage, or of the success she found in positive responses from audiences when she acted as an authority both in her staged roles and as a behaviour model on her bicycle. Her transition from fearing identification as a ‘treehugger’ to feeling freedom from any permanence of identity is an example of how a performance opportunity can “articulate() the very space in which we can act ‘as if’ and reap its experiential rewards” (Schutzman 2006:290). Through performing, she learned that our roles evolve over time and space, and that by trying on different roles we can learn things about ourselves. From her comment and the next story, we see how the process of performance can shift how we perceive ourselves, our relationships with others, and the context of our practices. For all long cycles, riders would pair up and stagger departures because it was safer to ride in small groups than as one large group on the highway. One day, while moving between Port Alberni and Tofino on Vancouver Island (a very long, windy, and hilly road with no towns along the way), the group planned to meet up and spend the night at an unmarked campground about halfway between Port Alberni and Tofino. On this day, the advance group did not stop at the planned campsite and instead kept riding all the way to Tofino, which resulted in a 100km+ day of riding. The following groups did not know if they had missed the campsite (a small group even turned back to check) and daylight was fading as the riders grew exhausted, but felt they had to continue in order to find their advance group. After long hours of extra cycling on a challenging route, they eventually found the advance group just outside of Tofino. This event caused very hard feelings among the later groups toward those in the advance group including mistrust and resentment. All the riders were exhausted from the extremely long day and long route, and the group did not have an opportunity to speak about what happened to resolve the tension before their next performance. Yet the exhaustion of the ride to Tofino soon dissipated and was replaced by a performance high as group  71  members told me their next performance was the most engaged, dynamic, and unified they experienced over the entire tour. [The events on the road to Tofino] definitely put a very distinct rift in our group for a couple of days, and it was definitely a scary moment in terms of feeling like the group might never recover from it? At that point I went, ‘there might be people going home.’ That was probably the most negative moment [of the tour]. (…) Soon after that, we had one of our best performances! (Nashira) The tension between group members seemed to spur them on to perform with greater energy and intensity. After the show, they finally got to discuss the issue, and they claimed that the performance high they collectively experienced put them in a position to discuss it more reasonably and with less blame or accusation. The affective character of embodiment is strongly present in this account of how the group’s interpersonal psychology is deeply connected to their embodied experiences of negotiating collaborative cycling practices, and to their formal collaborative performances. Their story of the ride to Tofino and subsequent performance success points to the potential for performance to create a space for simultaneous “critical reflection and creative accomplishment” (Conquergood 2002:151). But this was not always the case. Nashira continues, There were definitely times when group tension did affect our performance, absolutely. I think that they did so in terms of people’s commitment to the play. In terms of their enthusiasm about the play, and the energy level of the group. The energy level of the group was really affected (…) if there were negative dynamics going on in the group, then the energy level of the group was often low. And that definitely affected our performance. (Nashira) We can see that in some instances the performative act is not quite enough to override the dynamic emotional and social factors that circulate within the group. But Nashira’s comment that sometimes negative group dynamics pulled down their performance level should not be read in isolation of all the other performances they experienced over the summer in which they ‘clicked’ as a group on stage and experienced “a real performance high!” (Leanne). Rachel also articulates the thoughts of others I interviewed when she says, “it was 72  consistently very energizing to perform the play.” The act of performing on stage stimulated the group and tended to bring them together more often than it drew them apart. It is this context of iterative performance that I want to highlight here, that in the repeated performance act on stage and in the perhaps more mundane performances in the everyday realm exists a learning opportunity that is based in repetitive embodied practice and the transformative potential of performativity. 3.3  Setting the stage for sustainability  It is highly unlikely that sustainability will be achieved through top-down initiatives and the provision of expert-derived information. There is, of course, a role for information and a need for experts to study the science of climate change and the anthropogenic impacts of our actions, however, a definition of the sustainable future equally requires the inclusion of cultural worldviews, social norms and values. Sustainability emerges where experts and nonexperts come together to collectively explore the values, societal beliefs, scientific facts, and governance options that describe the sustainable future. In this model the role of the expert is decentred from being the source of authoritative knowledge conveyed to the audience, and in its place the processes and outcomes of collective conversation gain significance. This is the difference between substantive sustainability, that describes the global-scale achievement of balancing ecological, economic, social, and cultural imperatives, and procedural sustainability that seeks sustainability in the social practices of people, groups, and institutions on the ground (Robinson 2004; Robinson and Tansey 2006). As I have discussed elsewhere, the strategy to authoritatively state what practices and choices are necessary for sustainability (the information-provision model) has not produced transformative change of the magnitude necessary to satisfy substantive imperatives (Owens 2000; Owens and Driffill 2008), therefore we must explore an alternative framing of sustainability that can more powerfully integrate the concerns and desires of people whose practices will build toward a sustainable or unsustainable future. The play “Reason to Dream” is an interesting example of the information-deficit model delivered through theatrical means. The performative effect does alter the approach and the delivery style of classic information-provision theory by emphasising the embodied nature of sustainability behaviours. For example, sustainability behaviours are corporeally modelled in 73  the play as actors perform versions of unsustainable and sustainable behaviour that draw negative and positive reactions from other characters. Instead of merely presenting the information dispassionately, the theatrical form animates and dramatises the issues in the hope of forging stronger affective relations between everyday behaviours and global issues for the audience. For instance, in one scene the protagonist Billy is being shown the impacts of certain food choices while the other nine performers move around the stage taking the form of modes of food transport. When Billy’s guide (at this point the guide is a Starbucks barista) says, “travel by large transport trucks, or by boat!” the actors link arms to make the shape of an ocean liner and, as one, blare the sound of a foghorn. My description does not do the scene justice, because for the viewing audience the effect of this small moment is both humorous and viscerally disgusting since the foghorn blare looks and feels like the actors are belching, spewing toxins, maybe, or bilge water, and as this is accompanied by one of the loudest auditory cues in the performance, it is a very striking moment that strongly resonated for me at the moment of performance and now, years later. In this way they delivered the ‘information’ that when food travels large distances on ocean liners emissions and other pollutants are produced in way that was strongly evocative of the corporeal reality of food transport, a dimension of eating that as consumer we rarely get to see or bodily understand. Following this scene the alternatives to importing food from far away are performed, including one special scene where, as the guide moves through the options available to Billy, the (now) conscious food consumer, the other actors move through representations of farmer’s markets and gardening at home, culminating in the phrase, “You can buy organic!” At this point everyone on stage raises their arms as though to heaven and collectively hums an angelic “Haaaaa!” It is a very funny moment (a precise and clever use of humour as a performance element) but at the same time the message is very clear. While there are food purchases that incur environmental destruction, there are also purchasing options that are environmentally and morally better. By presenting alternatives, play developers intended to produce a piece that showed audiences where they could make better choices, and to some extent, Derek claims, that worked.  74  I think…the idea of the play…it gets a lot of information across but I don’t think that’s the point of it. I think the point of it was…to give people the idea that they have choices. Most importantly, is that there’s choices, because I mean you can talk about these big global issues, and I think a lot of people, I mean the people that come to watch the play, they understand a lot of this stuff now. It’s a pretty hot topic on the planet today, right, so I think it’s more like getting the idea across that you have choices. You always have choices that you can make with everything. Everything you do, you have a choice. Deciding what’s going to be in the play, like issue-wise, you try and cover what you can but it wasn’t really the idea to, to, to provide information, really. That was only part of it, I think. (Derek) During our interview, I had the impression that Derek was a little frustrated with the amount of information presented in the play, and the lack of interactive engagement on the issues he saw during the tour. On his experience of being on stage, Derek reflects, “I always felt like I was saying something important,” but the next moment in the interview he seems to shrug this off and shy away from the authorial position his claim asserts. Derek was one of the tour members who actually participated in the development of the play before the tour so it is not surprising that he feels “Reason to Dream” presents choices because for him the new play is in juxtaposition with the previous play. Nicola was not part of the play development team but she did see the previous play when Otesha toured through her city in a previous year, and she had a strong negative reaction: I found myself becoming defensive while watching the [previous Otesha] play. And I really realized that how you frame a movement really affects who joins that movement, and it affects who feels threatened by that movement. My hope is that in our play we didn’t come off as condescending or arrogant or too extreme for people. Because I feel like those approaches elicit defensive responses, and that cuts off time for self-reflection and change. (Nicola) I do not know if Leanne ever saw the previous Otesha play, but over the summer she learned a very valuable perspective that she will carry forward into her future endeavours. Leanne learned that she wants to “have a conversation [about sustainable practices], not [be] a dictator” to other people about their actions, and presumably, she doesn’t want to be dictated 75  to either. In part this is because she joined the tour feeling a bit uneducated and unprepared, but discovered in time that education is one component of successfully teaching and learning sustainability while the larger component is openness and willingness to jump in and try: I had this notion that you had to know so much going into it, but that’s bullshit, I don’t know why I thought that. You go into these organizations to learn and grow, and then prosper from it, but I was always like ‘I don’t really know enough about this issue so I can’t really be part of it.’ (Leanne) I heard from many tour members that they came into The Otesha Project expecting to learn a lot about sustainability, but found by the end of the tour that the group actually had not talked about sustainability much at all. Many people said they learned very little about sustainability apart from the actions that were necessary in order to be part of the group (i.e., an emphasis on a local, organic, vegetarian diet; all travel performed by bicycle). If the group did not discuss sustainability, then where was the conversation occurring during the tour that leads to statements like Leanne’s that she wants to have a conversation about sustainability rather than be a part of a top-down, expert-driven, information-deficit approach? Where is the emergent form of sustainability coming from that we see quite clearly in their reflexive accounts of their experience? The ‘conversation’ was happening in the embodied social practices they individually and collectively performed over the course of the tour. In the absence of explicit discussion about the goals and processes of sustainability, tour members developed their understanding of what sustainability is and how it is achieved by experimenting in their embodied practices. Leanne describes her sincere efforts to live differently, to practice differently, while on the tour than she normally would in her regular life: The biggest thrill for me was the challenge of living as sustainably as possible. And I feel like I was one of the people on the tour, not to, like, toot my own horn or anything, but I was one of the people on tour who really took that challenge upon – like I didn’t shower for the whole two weeks, or two months, I mean. Like, I didn’t use water for that, and, you know, I really tried to seek out – to really challenge myself to think about all the choices that I was making. (Leanne)  76  Sustainability is an emergent property that we will achieve through an ongoing conversation that connects multiple voices and perspectives, but what is particularly evident in the experiences of this group, and that we can take away to influence future sustainability work, is that it must connect multiple embodied practices. The process of transformation is fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty that will not resolve into a single bounded outcome because, by the principles of procedural and emergent sustainability, the sustainable future is a fluid, ever-changing and highly complex emergent state. Tour members were often frustrated by the difficulty they experienced trying to collectively embody the kind of static and didactic sustainability portrayed in “Reason to Dream.” Their public, authorial performances of sustainability in the play were often at odds with the adaptability and negotiation necessary to embody sustainability in performances off stage within the group. Tension between the substantive message of sustainable consumption in the play and the procedural process of crafting sustainability performances in daily life is clearly evident in Nicola’s account of the banana episode. For me, I recognized immediately that six dollars a day was not enough money to sustain me. I do support a local, organic, vegetarian diet – that’s pretty much how I’ve eaten my whole life, but [my diet before the tour] did involve more products such as eggs and also more high protein products. So I was eating protein bars throughout the day, especially on the riding days when I felt like that helped me stay strong physically. (Nicola) In other words, the pre-determined message performed in the play did not reflect the more fluid, socially mediated and negotiated understanding of sustainability that emerged from the group’s embodied social practices. Here Nicola speaks again on the constant negotiation that was necessary from tour members in order to maintain a functional social dynamic while meeting their personal needs. In the group I tried to balance going with the flow with ‘this isn’t working for me, I’m wondering if this is happening for other people? If so we need to talk about it.’ (…) I felt like within the group that my opinion was heard when it needed to be heard but also I felt like I tried to use my discretion. You know, you don’t always want to be the one who’s having a problem, because you can’t satisfy all eleven people all the time. 77  (…) I had to think to myself, ‘how important is this to me? And how important is it to the group?’ That’s a dance, right there. I tried to balance it. (Nicola) The daily agenda on tour included a debriefing session every evening to deal with problems or issues before tour members relaxed into leisure time. It was planned but unstructured conversation and, in this specific Otesha group, tended to be dominated by one tour member who required extra support because she lacked confidence in her position in the group, and lacked camping and outdoors experience so she was often afraid. It seems that as a group they were not well equipped to handle the emotional, social, and governance complexities that emerged from their ideological undertaking. In the case of the ride to Tofino, successfully performing16 on stage together while waiting to deal with a tense and emotional group issue allowed the group to feel reunited and capable of discussing the issue reasonably after the performance. Yet during the banana episode, their explicit use of theatre to find a resolution to the conflict was abandoned when the emotional burden of the issue proved insurmountable. It is therefore not clear from this case study that aesthetic performance provides a straightforward route to addressing serious points of disagreement in public sustainability dialogues. However I do conclude that when the sustainability message is performed as a process of collective learning through embodied practice (or with a strong bodily component), as it was in the off-stage moments of group life, it can have profound effects. Performing a play about conscientious consumer choices was both a pedagogical and learning opportunity for Otesha members, however they learned more about the messy, slipperiness of how sustainability can be embodied by performing iterative practices while cycling and around camp. Tired, aching legs and backs craved the creature comforts provided by the market economy, yet many tour members were soon surprised to find they were energized by long hours of riding instead of feeling defeated by the miles spent in the saddle. As a group they learned more about the deeply intimate relationships that tie their bodies to food, and, further, to the personal and political relationships that are established around food with other people and ideologies. 16  I think a successful performance can be defined in large part by the experience of the performer and the audience, whether they felt engaged and connected during the performance. As I did not interview audience members, and was not at this performance in Tofino, I can only report that the performers felt connected to one another and to the audience, and they experienced the rush of a performance high that night. 78  3.4  Conclusion  Cutting across the themes of material-ecological influences, adaptability and improvisation, and tension in transformation, two key findings are apparent. Firstly, tour members experienced performative tension between substantive sustainability and procedural sustainability as they worked to perform a cohesive and authoritative identity of sustainability for audience members and other people they interacted with during the tour. Otesha tour members are not experts in the field of sustainability – they are devotees, and therefore they were mostly content to perform a play full of expert-derived instructions for making sustainable choices, but they struggled to embody the static and didactic sustainability message in their off stage social practices that, like all practices in everyday life, are socially, culturally, and bodily mediated. Furthermore, they found that as a group they rarely discussed sustainability. In the absence of discourse, performances of sustainability emerged from their embodied social practices. This suggests that sustainability is more realistically and more usefully framed as a procedurally achieved emergent property of complex embodied social practices rather than a definitive collection of expert-derived substantive imperatives. Secondly, framing the layered multiplicity of social practices by group members as performances provides insight that collective expectations, group dynamics, and self-perception all influence embodied social practices of sustainability. This finding suggests that social practices occur within a complex performative process involving multiple players and audiences; therefore the performance lens of analysis is a productive tool for framing sustainability practices. The multidimensional accounts of embodied sustainability by Otesha members provide valuable insights into how the social, political, visceral, and material-ecological intertwine in every level of performance, from the stage to the everyday, and offer support for the potential of collaborative participatory projects like The Otesha Project to help engage individuals in collective action for a sustainable future. However formal projects like Otesha’s may not be necessary as I have shown that their embodied learning occurred more often and more profoundly off stage, within the dynamic group interactions and by way of emerging and experimental embodied practices. I argue that including an embodied element in dialogic 79  processes for public engagement with sustainability establishes a platform for the performance of the values, beliefs, and practices that support the sustainability transition. The process of performance provides an opportunity for learning about and exploring the conflicts, losses and benefits of a sustainable future, but, as the experiences of Otesha group members have shown, if the performance is a direct presentation of a pre-determined script about the substantive, expert-derived form of sustainability, something of the performative potential for change and transformation is lost. An alternative, performative methods that create space for improvisation and dialogic interaction, should be explored for their potential to influence sustainability studies of social practices, and social practices themselves. In this chapter I used conventional sociological qualitative methods for data collection, and in reporting my findings I applied the performance typology for clarification and guidance. In the next chapter, I introduce research methodology that is better suited to access the everyday embodied experiences of sustainability via an emphasis on creative and reflexive praxis. A participatory photographic method, paired with focused interviews, produces visual and anecdotal accounts of the social practices at play in a recycling initiative in Vancouver. The first half of the next chapter explains the relevance of an arts-based methodology to procedural sustainability that works within the embodiment paradigm. The second half of the chapter presents the findings from the photographic project by integrating the performance typology with social practice theory in a more seamless presentation to demonstrate how embodiment praxis can flow smoothly between research theory and research practice.  80  Chapter 4: Exposing embodied sustainability in the UBU cart program 4.1  Introduction  In the previous chapter I studied a community whose embodied sustainability practices were intentionally performative. Even outside of their formal theatrical production, members of The Otesha Project tour group understood that they were publicly performing sustainability for one another and for other people they encountered while on the tour. In this chapter I study a community whose bodily practices within a community-scale recycling initiative are related to sustainability, but are not intentionally performative. Shifting focus to the more routine practices of people in the practical realm (i.e., people who have not committed time out of their regular lives to participate in an unusual endeavour such as The Otesha Project) further tests the applicability of performance theory and the embodiment paradigm as a frame for understanding social practices for sustainability. In an attempt to access the embodied dimensions of social practices in this community, and to encourage reflexive and creative contributions to the study, a participatory arts-based method is employed. The title of this chapter is a play on the process of exposure that creates a photographic image, and the process of discovery enabled by the use of photography in the community engagement process. Through the act of taking pictures of their experiences within the recycling initiative, participants crystallize a moment in their embodied experience, thereby affording a kind of temporal deceleration. When captured as a photographic image, the moment that is experientially brief gains a degree of permanence and the possibility of transmission through sharing the image with other people. The image provides a focus for reflexive study of the embodied moment of a sustainability practice. The societal transition to sustainability is a process rife with emotional, political, cultural, and practical meaning, and as cultural theorist Hans Dieleman explains, “In a change process that is surrounded with emotions, conflicting interests and that challenges existing knowledge, skills, and routines, [a reflexive, artistic approach] is (...) potentially very powerful” (Dieleman 2008:128). Dieleman’s research focuses on extolling artists as particularly well-prepared change agents: “Artists often challenge traditional and scientific approaches in terms of conceptualizing  81  reality, using the capacities of lateral thinking and intuitive searching. This offers them very interesting opportunities to be change agents in sustainability” (2008:134). By extension, the kinds of processes of inquiry and expression artists undertake may also present opportunities for people who are not artists to engage with the world differently and, in the process, see connections and prospects for change. In this chapter, I describe my interaction with people involved in a small scale recycling program as they engage in a photographic exercise to share their experiences and conceptualizations of the recycling program. This chapter is a hybrid of methodology and empirical findings that argues for the use of alternative methods of data generation under the embodied approach to sustainability studies, describes the advantages of visual methods and specifically photographic modes of research performance, and presents the findings from my engagement with community members in the recycling program. 4.1.1  United We Can and the UBU cart program  Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is a dense urban area that is one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods. It is characterized as a drug-riddled, violent, and in all ways nefarious zone, but residents of the Downtown Eastside share a slightly different narrative. By dint of geography, Vancouver’s busy harbour on the Pacific Ocean is at the centre of Canada’s illegal drug trade, and the Downtown Eastside is the centre of the city’s illicit drug culture. While the drug trade contributes to and is sustained by a host of social problems, including prostitution, petty crime, addiction, disease, and homelessness, there is also a long-standing tradition of social activism in the Downtown Eastside. For example, the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA) was formed in 1973 to lobby for neighbourhood rights and low-income housing, and the Downtown Eastside Woman’s Centre was founded soon after to protect local women and women’s rights (City of Vancouver 2009). In 1995, the United We Can bottle depot (UWC) opened its doors, largely through the efforts of community organizer and binner17 Ken Lyotier. UWC operates as a self-sustaining socioeconomic enterprise, providing recycling services to individuals and businesses in the  17  A binner is defined on the United We Can website as “Someone who works scavenging through the garbage bins with the prospect of finding reusable and recyclable items that can be exchanged for cash.” It is not a derogatory term, nor a badge of honour, merely a term of identification. 82  Downtown Eastside. In this environment, the bottle depot helps create community-driven collective action for environmental stewardship, job creation, community inclusivity, and advocacy for marginalised people in the area (United We Can 2009). The business serves as a community hub where many area residents congregate to socialise and, for some, to find some work. UWC operates numerous eco-equity programmes that employ local residents. One of these is the Urban Binning Units (UBU) cart program that sends UWC employees to local businesses and condo associations in order to collect recyclables for a deposit (this is called a pick up by the group). Michael Strutt, then a student of industrial design at Emily Carr Institute for Art and Design in Vancouver, designed the cart used in this program. It is a robust design featuring a large catchment area, one axle, rubber tires, a long, broad handle, a collapsible design, and an adjustable hitch so that the cart can be pushed by hand or attached to a bicycle (see Figure 4.1). The cart program earns income for the binners (either a flat rate of five dollars per pick up or a percentage of the deposit income), a charitable donation for the bottle depot, and a small income for the business or condo strata if they choose not to donate the full amount. Originally it was thought binners could buy a cart through a rent-to-own scheme, which would amount to them being set up as independent entrepreneurs. This plan was not desirable to many binners in part because few area residents have somewhere to store a large cart, and in part because they resisted the responsibility of ownership and the sense of being ‘tied down’.  83  Figure 4.1 The Urban Binning Unit cart can be wheeled by hand or attached to a bicycle  Local businesses choose to participate in the cart program for many benefits including the charitable donation, the opportunity for performing a social good, and to save money on private, large-scale pickup. In my conversations with UWC representatives and some of the cart program binners, it became apparent that the UBU cart program was experiencing some issues that were barriers to its expansion. In particular, a lack of social connection between the cart program binners and employees at the pick-up businesses and condo associations was noted as a significant barrier to improving the working conditions for the binners and to the overall functioning of the program. UWC hoped to expand the cart program by enrolling more binners and securing more contracts with businesses and condo stratas, but they weren’t sure how to go about resolving the current issues, advertising for more contracts, or enrolling more binners to join the cart program. This study involves residents of the Downtown Eastside whose sustainability behaviours through their work at the bottle depot and in the cart program weave together numerous social practices that span socio-economic, cultural, and ecological concerns. Previously, the resident population was heavily exploited by academics and mined repeatedly to inform 84  academic studies in many disciplines. Academic work in this area now more commonly occurs with the participation of people and organizations in the community, mostly focused on the causes and effects of the extreme disparity in privileges and resources that exist between the population in this specific area in comparison to other areas of Vancouver and, indeed, Canada18. One of the reasons more recent academic work in this area is often highly respected is because the community has learned to police which researchers and which projects are permitted access to the experiences of area residents. With growing trends toward Community Service Learning and Community-Based Research in many academic disciplines, most notably – but not exclusively – health and public policy (Conway, Amel, and Gerwien 2009; Mobley 2007; Ward and Wolf-Wendel 2000), increasingly the research permitted by the Downtown Eastside community benefits the community directly because the research questions, methods, and applications are developed in partnership with community members in order to meet their self-identified needs. Meaningful and dialogic engagement with communities is an explicit goal of strong procedural sustainability, and the practical conditions of service learning translate very well as the kinds of collaborative processes from which sustainability can emerge as a product of a conversation. 4.2  Embodied research methods  To go beyond the cognitive approach of conventional sustainability research requires an approach that values practices as they are performed in our everyday lives. In his discussion of the ‘cultural turn’ in human geography, Latham complains that although new research has emerged that values the performative quality of everyday life and embodied practice, “We [cultural geographers] simply do not have the methodological resources and skills to undertake research that takes the sensuous, embodied, creativeness of social practice seriously” (Latham 2003:1998; see also Lorimer 2008; and Thrift 2000b). He attributes this disability to a lack of willingness to experiment beyond “now canonical cultural methods: indepth interviews, focus groups, participant observation of some form or another” (2003:1998). While my engagement with The Otesha Project (cf. Chapter 3) relied on ‘canonical’ methods of social science, in this chapter I turn to more recent methodological  18  An excellent example of a publication facilitated by academics that sensitively and candidly presents the embodied voices of seven women living in the Downtown Eastside is Robertson and Culhane’s (2005) In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. 85  design that responds to Whatmore’s claim that the cultural turn carries with it an “experimental imperative”: Let me dwell for a moment on just two aspects of this experimental imperative. First is the urgent need to supplement the familiar repertoire of humanist methods that rely on generating talk and text with experimental practices that amplify other sensory, bodily, and affective registers and extend the company and modality of what constitutes a research subject. Second, the experimental demands of ‘more-thanhuman’ styles of working place an onus on actively redistributing expertise beyond engaging with other disciplines or research fields to engaging knowledge practices and vernaculars beyond the academy in experimental research/politics. (Whatmore 2006:606–7). These authors are not satisfied by a simple acknowledgement of our embodiment; for example, Latham (2003) strongly criticizes a paper on the corporeal geographies of consumption (Valentine 1999) for the author’s lack of engagement with the sensuous, synaesethetic experiences of the embodied consumer, describing the article as yet another piece of highly cognitive research. What, then, does methodology look like “if we are to be more sensitive to the creativity of practice? (…) [To] take the flow of practice and its complex intersubjectivities seriously” (Latham 2003:1999)? Latham argues, and I agree (cf. Chapter 2), that embodied knowledge, which can also be thought of as practical knowing, is not ordered through discourse and therefore to study it we must move beyond the discursive approach. In Whatmore’s excerpt above, she too emphasises the need to go beyond ‘talk and text’ in our methodologies; further she claims that the experimental imperative of social practice theory necessitates ‘redistributing expertise’ beyond the academy. Her statement raises the question of power in research relationships and points to the improved equality in participatory research practices such as service learning that engage non-academics in research design, execution, and application. To overcome “the hegemony of textualism,” Conquergood champions the performance studies approach that allows for “another way of knowing that is grounded in active, intimate, hands-on participation and personal connection” (2002:146). Participatory practice in research (that can occur in many other forms besides Conquergood’s emphasis on extended-contact participatory ethnography) can 86  help to level the playing field of research in that an inclusive and participatory process, accomplished with mutual respect and integrity, establishes a more horizontal distribution of power that removes (some of) the onus of authority from the researcher and creates space for more equitable contribution by all participants (Gaventa and Cornwall 2008). It is worth noting that inclusivity and equitable distribution of power are qualities of research that are not merely compatible with the aims of procedural sustainability, they in fact describe the qualities and processes necessary for the kind of collective conversation that will produce an emergent vision of sustainability (Robinson 2003, 2004; Robinson and Tansey 2006). They also describe the kind of active, dialogic approach necessitated by the embodiment paradigm. Embodied research methods should have the same fundamental characteristics as embodiment, i.e., they should be collaborative (dialogic and relational), creative (requiring the synthesis of ideas, experiences, and capacities), sensitive to the place where the research occurs (both in terms of its social and emotional history), and iterative (sensitive to the mobility of experience through space and time) (cf. Chapter 2, Section 2.3.4). In this vein, McCormack (2008) distinguishes between two kinds of what he calls the ‘disciplinary grammar’ of human spatial relationships: thinking about space, and thinking-space. The first, thinking about space describes a process focused on looking backwards to experience, which is a second-order derivative activity, always kicking in just a little too late to capture the movement of experience in the moment. In this grammar, the logics of how experience is constructed are often subservient to those of critique. In contrast, thinkingspace might be understood as the “co-intensive sensing, in affective-dynamic terms, of the creative processuality of something in the world forcing us to think” (McCormack 2008:3). What I think McCormack means by this is that thinking-space is the actual, processual experience of sharing space through embodied interaction, while thinking about space is a reflexive practice after the event that functions to translate embodied experience into language. Something is always lost in this translation – perhaps even the “intimate ties to our embodied modes of conceptualization and reasoning” (M. Johnson 1999:81) become severed in the process. Thinking-space, on the other hand, is an embodied act of performing relationships in space that embraces possibility and fluidity. It is process oriented rather than ends oriented, and the outcome is a different valuation of embodied action than as a mere 87  means to an end. In performance theory we also find this distinction between the lived moment of thinking-space and the document or record produced by thinking about space: Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance. To the degree that performance attempts to enter the economy of reproduction it betrays and lessens the promise of its own ontology. Performance’s being, like the ontology of subjectivity, (…) becomes itself through disappearance. (Phelan 1993:146) This concept, or rather, this praxis, thinking-space, for me clearly resonates with the claim by Thrift and Dewsbury that by turning to the embodied, kinaesthetic moment as the moment of production (rather than abstract theorization after the kinaesthetic moment), “leads us inevitably to the performing arts, for it is amongst their practices that we find fluid spaces worked up, worked on, and worked out” (Thrift and Dewsbury 2000:19). But isn’t the act of performance, in the sense of the performing arts such as dance, theatre, and live music, simply the act of doing art? And by this I mean to ask, is it in the creative moment of aesthetic performance that space for reflection and emergent dialogue is produced? If this is so, then performances outside of the performing arts offer the same potential for creatively thinking-space in the kinaesthetic moment. If the life of a performance is fleeting and ephemeral, as Phelan says, “performance’s only life is in the present” (1993:146), then the researcher is faced with a temporal conundrum: every performance, even a reiteration of a previous performance, exists solely in the moment and very few traces of the performance are retained in documents or records. What, then, exists as ‘data’ for researchers to take up, except perhaps memory. “Through repeated exposure to situations, places, objects, etc. we commit to memory the sensations, emotions and practices that these elicit in the body, whether we are conscious of this or not” (Merchant 2011:63). In this way we build and carry experiential memories with us at all times that “operate as an active character of performativity” (David Crouch 2003:1956). The power of embodied memory makes us capable of ‘knowing’ things in a bodily way even when our engagement is only partial (Merchant 2011), for example, although engagement with a photograph is only partial because it directly engages only our visual organs, seeing the 88  image can call up other sensory stimulations and socio-cultural and spatial contexts not visibly present in the image. Further, viewing images of your own experiences provides “an extension of embodied existence (…) by means of a (albeit compromised) re-living and differently situated (…) view of a previous engagement with the world” (Merchant 2011:64). Photographic documentation of the event cannot possibly preserve the lived experience of the collaborative, dialogic work accomplished during a performance but Martin claims, and I agree, that a practice of documentation can potentially “recognise the disruptive effects of the work of participation lost to representation” (1997:321). While I agree with Thrift (2000) that watching recordings of a performance or reading the resulting document not only alters the performance but establishes a different aesthetic of performance, I extend this line of argument to add that the traces of a performance, such as photographic images, new and different though their aesthetic may be, can be interpreted up against the experiential memory of the original performance to potentially expose new insights. The photographs stand as artefacts, representations of an embodied moment. They are not the performance itself, but a trace of the performance that is somehow retained (Phelan 1993). The interview, too, figures as yet another performance enacted during the research process. As “a reaccounting, or reperformance” loosely centred on the moment of experience depicted in the photograph, the interview is a unique performance in and of itself that is entwined with (and possibly inseparable from) the images produced by the interviewee cum photographer (Latham 2003:2002). Figuring the interview as a performance in and of itself “helps to deflect us away from looking for depth (in the sense of a unified truth) and directs us toward detail (in the sense of a fuller and more variegated picture of the interviewee)” (Latham 2003:2007). The photograph also acts as a kind of mirror to the viewer’s own engagement with bodily knowledge; this evocative engagement is effective for the viewer/photographer as well as the viewer/researcher, and any other viewers who approach the visual image through their own embodied understanding. Together the photographs and the interviews function as both thick context and descriptive narrative of the embodied experience of the recycling program as seen “from a body, always a complex, contradictory, structuring and structured body” (Haraway 1988:589).  89  As the researcher, I also perform in multiple and complex ways that constitute the research in collaboration with study participants. My own reflexive work as a participating agent in the research process tells a particular and situated embodied perspective of the practices that occur within the recycling program. But bodily experiences, although structured by the “enunciative frame” of the body we all mostly share and which “define[s] what it is possible to see and to say” (P. Harrison 2000:506), are subjective and dramatically shaped by personal experience, emotional states, unique bodily capacities, and more. I cannot be a transparent communicator of the embodied experiences of others, because my own embodied subjectivity gets in the way. But the researcher can be someone who ‘orients’ the participants to report on “that which might usually remain unsaid” (Blackman and Venn 2010:18). This ‘orientation’ to embodiment is a very important step because, as discussed in Chapter 2, socio-historical shifts have created a situation in which we, as a society, have learned to dull down the importance of our essential embodiment in favour of more cognitive-heavy modes of interaction and production (Abram 1997; Berman 1984, 1990). Within this societal context, attempts at embodied research practices can be frustrating when “such fleeting, immanent feelings, sensations and connections could simply be forgotten or not deemed worthy of exploration by research participants” (Merchant 2011:58). In order to ‘get at’ what the sensuous experience of living is for participants in the specific context under study, here a community-driven urban recycling program, we can look at the potential of aesthetic performance through the use of arts-based methods for creatively thinking-space in the embodied moment. 4.3  Visual arts-based methodology  The point at which human action becomes art-making is sometimes difficult to distinguish, and it is well beyond the scope of this chapter to explore the myriad ways in which art and life bleed together. Acord and DeNora describe the distinction thus: “While all social action is creative, aesthetic, and practical to some degree, artistic engagement is defined by the unique ways it creates space for experimentation with social, political, and aesthetic projects” (Acord and DeNora 2008:230). As a research practice, then, artistic engagement allows for creativity and experimentation, and provides an opportunity for reflexivity by participants and researchers alike. In systems theory thinking, reflexive practice is a key component of creating change (Dieleman 2008). Remember that systems theory supports the procedural 90  approach to sustainability whereby sustainability is an emergent property of dialogic processes (Robinson 2004, 2008; Robinson and Tansey 2006). The potential for using artsbased methods to engage with community members on sustainability with a collaborative and exploratory embodied approach holds great promise as a way of building shared understanding and reflexive capacity. The process of photography offers an opportunity for reflexive engagement with the concept and practice of sustainability within the cart program, and the images produced provide visual cues to the affective relations within and around the cart program. This approach is strongly procedural in its intent and execution. “Art understood as verb, rather than as a noun, is about interactions, experiences and processes in their vitality, rather than about fixed end products, objects, and achievements in their excellence and glorious intemporality” (Kagan 2011:31). And Kagan continues, “Art, as a verb, should not be understood as limited to a specific sector of society labelled as ‘the arts’. But professionals who do work in the artistic sector can very well be catalysts for others to become reflective practitioners, and for communities to tap into the potentials of their collective intuitions.” (Kagan 2011:35). So while Conquergood (2006) calls for researchers to put down the instruments of observation and take up new practices of bodily participation, participatory arts-based methodologies call for research participants to, in effect, pick up the instruments of observation and aesthetic expression so that they can themselves curate their contribution to the study (Latham 2003; Pink 2006). And while the production of images is not the primary goal, rather the process of photography is the focus, visual media such as photographs can convey non-visual aspects of perception and therefore act as tools of communication (Pink 2006; G. Rose 2007). Together the creative process of taking a photograph and the interactive reflective practice of talking about what is ‘in’ the image in terms of emotions, unseen connections, and sensations, can provide “pathways to the other senses and resolve the difficulties [researchers] face in research and communication concerning emotions, time, the body, the senses, gender and individual identity” (Merchant 2011:60). In the context of photography, and similarly many arts-based methods that are not exclusively performed in the body such as painting, the process of art-making is mediated by the technologies employed. As 91  Haraway describes it, photography’s camera operates as “a semiotic-material technology to link meanings and bodies” (1988:585). The presence of the camera shifts the moment of experience because suddenly, in the moment of deciding to depress the shutter button, the photographer imagines how the scene before them will appear to the viewer of the photograph. The viewer becomes an audience to photographic performance. In this way, “the camera creates performances as bodies map particular trajectories in order to take photos – attaining specific positions in the landscape, ordering spatial relationships with others who may be included or excluded from the photo”19 (David Crouch and Desforges 2003:13). More importantly, to the study presented here, performance for and with the camera orders the presence and position of the photographer, encouraging the study participants to imagine another view of their own practices that calls upon their reflexive capacity and creates the possibility for change. 4.3.1  Photographic method  I made contact with Ken Lyotier and the UBU cart binners through the UBC Learning Exchange, a branch of the university situated in a storefront in the Downtown Eastside. The Learning Exchange in 1999 was established in order to build relationships between the university and other communities, and acts as a learning hub that serves community members and connects researchers and students with community groups (UBC Learning Exchange 2012). Margo Fryer, then the Director of the Learning Exchange, understood my interest in community-service learning and suggested Ken Lyotier as a possible starting point for looking at sustainability practices in the Downtown Eastside. I met with Ken, and subsequently with other people at the bottle depot over many months, and sometimes accompanied a cart program binner on his pick ups. Over time I was told about the problems and growing pains they were experiencing with the cart program. I suggested a photographic method might be a good fit to try and accomplish a number of their goals: to identify barriers and opportunities within the program, to build social capital between binners and  19  For further reading on this fascinating aspect of photographic production, Judith Butler writes on who is included, implicated, and excluded through the process of photographic documentation, specifically in the new form of embedded reporting that produced disturbing images of the humiliating torture of Iraqi detainees by American military security contractors at Abu Ghraib detention centre, as an act of moral interpretation. Butler presents a brilliantly complex analysis of the situational context of the photographs as they are revealed to the American viewing public (2005). 92  participating businesses, and to produce images that could be used in pamphlets and other advertising material to expand the program. After some negotiation about the particulars of how it would work, six people, including three binners in the cart program and three employees at a pick-up business, agreed to participate in a photographic process. They were each given a kit in a large sealable plastic bag containing a 24-exposure disposable cameras (with flash), small hand out sheets explaining the purpose of the photographic project and giving contact information at UBC and United We Can, multiple copies of consent forms to be read and signed by anyone appearing in the photographs, and pens. When the kits were handed out, we discussed what was the intention of the photographs, and agreed on an intentionally broad statement that photographers were to take pictures of their experiences within the cart program. We also discussed the multiple intended audiences for the photographs: other project participants, non-cart program businesses who might receive an advertising pamphlet containing the images, and potentially a larger unpredictable audience at a public exhibition for the project. The study participants were entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring everyone appearing on film provided signed consent in accordance with the UBC ethics review board requirements. They used the cameras over approximately three weeks, then I collected the cameras and consent forms, and had the films developed and copied to a DVD. I then conducted interviews one-on-one with every photographer while we sat at my laptop and viewed the images they had produced. The images functioned as anchors for the conversation, and springboards for new topics or additional explanation. Interviews were semi-structured and open-ended, and all audio recorded, bar one who asked not to be recorded. Similarly, some participants asked not to be identified by anything more than an initial, so to respect their wishes while keeping distinctions between participant voices simple for the reader, I adopt a simple coding for this chapter. GP, SP, and KP are all employees at the business participating in the cart program as a pick up site (hence the subscript P to designate pick up), and DB, CB, and MB, are all binners in the cart program (designated by the subscript B). Participants related to me that they felt shy and awkward asking other people to read and sign a consent form in order to appear in study-related photographs. In the end, all the participants chose to intentionally avoid shooting people who 93  were not a part of the photographic project from the outset. I did not receive a single signed consent form from someone outside the project, and from the entire set only three photographs were unusable because they contained the image of someone without consent. The three participating binners produced almost eighty photographs. Of this number, approximately sixty were directly related to the cart program, meaning they were taken at pick ups or the bottle depot or feature the UBU cart, and approximately twenty were either tangentially related to the cart program (photographs of their living spaces taken to show it would be impossible to keep a full cart of bottles overnight), or not specifically related to the cart program but showing contextual images of the area, for example. The employees at the pick up business produced around forty photographs, and almost all the images related directly to their activities or concerns within the cart program. I should note that, at the outset, the methodology of choice was a process called Photovoice (Wu et al. 1995; Wang and Burris 1997; Wang et al. 1998; Wang, Cash, and Powers 2000; Wang 2003). As a community-based, participatory methodology designed to effect change from a grassroots level, photovoice was first developed as a research tool for women’s reproductive health in China (Wu et al. 1995). Photovoice integrates a process of documentary photography in a community, with sharing and discussion of the photographs produced, and involves identified change-makers (e.g., policy makers, elected officials, community leaders) so that the lessons learned from the photography and group discussion can be used for “catalysing personal and community change” (Wang 2003:181; see also K. Harper 2009). Two key aspects of photovoice were not realized in this study: (1) although interviews were conducted with participant photographers and some of the group interacted during the regular course of the recycling program, the six participant photographers were never brought together at the same time to collectively discuss the images and experiences of the study project; and (2) key change agents were not involved in the study. There are numerous intersecting reasons why the full potential of the photovoice process was not achieved. Quite soon after the photography phase of the study was completed, and before we could organize a group discussion, Vancouver hosted the 2010 winter Olympics. United We Can bottle depot, and specifically the cart program, earned an unprecedented contract with the City of Vancouver to pick up and remove any cans or bottles from the City94  sanctioned celebration areas. The Olympics lasted twelve days but the crowds and celebrations spanned almost two months. All of the binners and my contacts at United We Can were understandably distracted during this time by the increased workload and the new opportunities they found through the Olympic contract. They remained just beyond my reach for an extended period of time as the Olympic contract led to more opportunities around the city. Over this time, interest from both the binners and pick up employees in meeting to collectively view and discuss the images and the cart program waned. Furthermore, although I discussed the possibility of a public final phase of the photography project with each participant in an effort to attract the attention of change agents (for example we considered holding an exhibition of the images for the public or putting together a digital photojournalism piece for a local online magazine,) and they initially seemed enthusiastic about the possibility, as the reality of a public forum became the next goal to work toward, members of the binning group and the employee group balked at the idea of showing their images publicly. I had to respect their wishes, but without a public forum the aim of involving change agents to help create larger scale effects was made more difficult. Eventually my own academic responsibilities and personal need to press on resulted in a shift in my priorities, and without sufficient interest from the community to continue, the study was ended. This is all to say that, although the procedures of photovoice were our initial guide, the data collected more closely resembles results of a participatory photo elicitation process (D. Harper 1998, 2002; G. Rose 2007), although with a stronger emphasis on uncovering the embodied experience. 4.4  Seeing sustainability as performed  The sustainability practices of people involved in the cart program touch on all the dimensions of performance in my typology (see Figure 2.1). In an effort to represent their sustainability practices as lived, complex experiences that are embodied and performative, the following sections of this chapter are written in a way that integrates the performance typology, embodiment characteristics, and social practice theory with the findings of the photographic project. I hope this approach helps the liveliness and tactility of performing embodied sustainability in the cart program shine through these theoretical lenses, and  95  demonstrates the strengths of a creative, embodied praxis approach for studying sustainability practices. 4.4.1  Re-materializing patterns of practice  Social practice theorist Hargreaves, in describing his study of a workplace group trying to change the wasteful practices of their colleagues, says that an initial audit quantifying waste in the workplace was “vital in helping to re-materialize inconspicuous consumption patterns, and also in localizing and connecting ‘the environment’ to everyday practice” (2011:86). In his analysis the term ‘re-materialize’ is used to describe the audit process that made the patterns of material consumption in the workplace, such as paper use, more tangible and concretely known. Similarly in my study, participants related that involvement in the photographic project helped re-materialize their activities in the recycling program. Through being a part of the photographic project, participants found they were able to bring to light certain practices and conditions that have otherwise gone unseen. For example, two of the binners do extra chores at some of the pick ups that is not part of the agreement with the participating businesses. They clean the recycling room of condo towers, and sort and arrange other items in the area that they can’t take as part of the recycling program. For instance, DB regularly sweeps and tidies a recycling room at a condo tower because, although he himself completes his work there neatly, he often finds the room in a messy, dirty state (see Figure 4.2). He claims this must be due to residents of the tower disrespecting the space because it is unlikely an ‘outside’ binner (meaning a binner who is not part of the cart program) could gain access to the room since it is inside three locked doors, although this does sometimes happen, and with negative consequences.  96  Figure 4.2 DB cleaning up the recycling room at a condo tower pick up.  The week before our interview, DB and MB were told they would have to be chaperoned into the recycling room of one of their regular condo tower pick ups. They were not told why this change in security was being made because until then they were let into the room by the building manager or his assistant, then left alone to do their work of collecting and sorting. They realized what must have happened: a resident surprised an ‘outside’ binner who had somehow gained access to the recycling room, and the binner was “ripping through the garbage and making a mess, and [the resident] assumed it was one of us and filed a complaint” (DB). It is clear that DB and MB take a lot of pride in their work with the cart program, and take care not to appear messy; in fact they go some lengths beyond the requirements of the job to participate in social practices of order and ‘pride of place’. Their actions performatively constitute the standards of the cart program. These extra measures quietly help sustain the recycling program, they claim. DB has never told anyone about this extra work before the photographic project but with the camera he chose to make the invisible visible by documenting an aspect of the recycling job that has gone unremarked. He feels pride in his efforts and resentment of the actions of ‘outside’ binners that might give  97  people the wrong impression of DB’s work ethic. Perhaps their extra service to the pick ups is a case of DB and MB ‘making place’ (Tuan 2001), which is accomplished, according to Latham, “through the work of embodied routine, routines of occupation, and use” (2003:2001). In practical terms, the extra labour of sweeping, tidying, and generally taking care of the areas where they pick up their commodities, adds to the amount of time spent at a pick up, which is essentially an out of pocket cost to the binners. They are paid by the pick up business or condo tower and could be spending that additional time doing either another pick up or regular binning along the streets and alleys. Also in the process of making the invisible visible (or in making the personal political) the binners chose to make the work conditions of the best and the worst pick ups visible to all participants. Some pick up conditions are excellent as we see in the left hand image of Figure 4.3, but some are heinous, as shown in the photo on the right which is a picture of the ooze and goo and broken glass at the bottom of a recycling bin at a pick up.  Figure 4.3 A clean and organized pick up, and an unclean and dangerous pick up.  The image on the left shows a pick up that is exceptionally organized, kept clean and tidy by someone who works in the office. An employee has obviously taken on the responsibility of managing the recycling closet, but CB, who makes the pick up with her cart every week, has never met whoever that is. According to CB, having a known and regular personal contact at a pick up is a key to good working conditions for the cart program binners because the contact person feels some level of responsibility to the binner once a personal connection is 98  established. At the pick up pictured on the left, CB has learned it is one particular person who cares for the recycling area, but has not had the opportunity to meet them, and therefore the high level of care shown is unusual in that it is maintained without a personal connection to the binner. The image on the right in Figure 4.3 is a peek into one of the worst maintained pick ups that constitutes a hazardous working condition for the binner who has to make that pick up. Even broken remains of a bottle are worth money, so long as the origin of the bottle can be identified, so binners will work to retrieve every salvageable bottle or shard to exchange for the deposit, often endangering themselves in the process. These and other photographs of the variety of work conditions at pick ups can now be shown around to participating businesses to convince them there is a more equitable and healthy way to participate in the cart program. In the following excerpt, DB explains some of the hazards of binning, including as part of the cart program. At the time of the interview, DB suspects he has a small piece of glass in his eye that has been bothering him for a couple days. My problem, the only big, biggest hazard, the only two ones, you could say is first broken glass. Not only do I get sometimes big cuts but sometimes even more small glass, that’s why even I’m worried about my eye, say just small glass shards, right? Or unfortunately, and this happens honestly probably once or every week or two, but sometimes, like that’s why I always wear gloves, right. It’s happened to me a few times, so that whole myth of being poked [by a needle that is possibly infected] in a garbage bag. Like sometimes on the [sorting floor at the bottle depot], like I’m not on the floor much anymore – I’m supposed to be on the counter, but anyways, before, sometimes there would be like dirty needles like all in there, at the bottom or like, you know, and if you’re in a rush sometimes you grab it and next thing you know you’re holding a whole bunch of dirty needles. Like (laughs), what the hell, man? What kind of retards throw all their dirty needles in a garbage pail? Just stupid. So not only is there a real and common risk of bodily injury in encounters with materials necessary for the continuity of his job, glass shards, but DB is also rightly concerned about the threat posed by needles found in amongst the waste. When a needle punctures the skin, it is not a simple transgression of the bounded bodily self; the needle bears (the risk of) 99  infection and instantly materialises the permeability and vulnerability of the body to disease, social stigma, and even death (Grosz 1994b; Rudge and Holmes 2010). In DB’s experience, the social practice of addiction is sometimes performed as the careless disposal of used materials that, through an unanticipated encounter, can potentially disrupt a person’s identity by seriously impacting their health and social reputation. Perhaps the case of dangerous work conditions being perpetuated in the cart program seems less serious in comparison to the biopower of HIV/Aids, but they are linked by a similar lack of respect or care by addicts and employees at the guilty pick ups for the individuals who physically deal with their garbage. It may also be a lack of relational understanding for how those jobs are done that leads people to establish a pattern of what is, essentially, abuse of the individuals in such jobs, albeit ignorantly. I heard repeatedly that by their involvement in the photographic project the participating employees at the pick up learned a lot more about the cart program (its premise and organization), and about the lives of the binners involved. The following images show something about the living arrangements of MB and DB:  Figure 4.4 Stairs in the building where MB rents a room.  100  Figure 4.5 The entrance to DB’s small room in a low-income housing project.  Through our conversations and interpreted through the daunting perspective of Figure 4.4, and the crowded perspective of Figure 4.5, it is clear that these binners do not have the ability to keep a cart full of cans and bottles outside of the bottle depot open hours. While CB now owns her cart (she took advantage of the rent-to-own scheme in the early days of the cart program), the other two binners borrow the carts from the bottle depot in order to complete their pick ups. MB says that where he rooms residents are not allowed to bring in bottles and cans because the building manager wants to avoid the associated smells, stains, and potential pest problems. The situation is similar for CB and DB, so CB can only bring the cart home with her when it is empty. While CB has room at her home for her cart (the carts do collapse somewhat), there is no way DB could fit an empty cart, let alone a full cart of cans and bottles, into his room. With nowhere to store their commodities overnight, missing the open hours of the bottle depot represents a loss of income. MB would definitely have a difficult time trying to bring a full cart up multiple stories of a steep and narrow stairway. I conveyed this reality to GP during our interview and he admitted that the notion of not having somewhere to take the material outside of depot hours had never occurred to him in DB’s 101  case because GP knows DB has a room. On the other hand, he says, “One of the things that I’ve learned from DB is the reason you can’t get people to go into shelters when it’s minus seven degrees (Celsius) is because there’s no place to put your carts. So there’s no security.” Through their interaction in the cart program, GP is learning quite a lot about what living in the Downtown Eastside is like. His preconceived ideas about archetypal characters and what their existence entails are being challenged and becoming more informed. 4.4.2  Affording practices with carts and cameras  Taking part in the photographic project allowed participants to make visible the actions and practices involved in the cart program that are normally unseen. The project also invited new emergent forms of performance that provide additional insight into the embodied experiences of participants in the cart recycling program. Although the cart program was established in order to provide recycling services for area business, many employees at participating businesses actually bring their recycling in from home in order to donate the deposit to the cart program binners. In the images produced by KP, there is a lovely vignette of her cans and bottles travelling from home to the pickup area of the office via multiple modes of public transit.  Figure 4.6 KP’s images follow the bag of cans from her home by bus and skytrain to the workplace.  Of the experience of photographing on the subway platform and at the bus stop, KP says gleefully, “I felt like a performance artist!” And further explains:  102  I just thought it was funny – it was almost like performance art or something. ‘The bag of recyclables comes to work’. [I wanted to show] its life cycle. It lives at home and then it sits in my storage cupboard there, and then, you know, it comes to the bus top and then the skytrain. It was sort of funny. People were looking at me because I was taking a picture of this bag on a platform of the skytrain because there’s always somebody there so… [Me: How did that make you feel?] Oh, it was just funny. It was pretty silly. If I saw it I would think it was pretty silly too. (laughs) Although she describes feeling like a performance artist as a good feeling, the next moment she wonders if she looked crazy on that subway platform with a camera. Her actions made her feel self-conscious: People were looking. It is a bit odd, and you can see what’s [in the bag]. I am aware that I’m nicely dressed and going to work and have a big bag of bottles and cans! (laughs) But, you know, really, it’s not that big a deal. Similarly, I asked SP if the odd looks she received when taking pictures in the office parkade were intimidating or disturbing. Her reply: “Honey, I’m a short ethnic girl. I’m visible no matter what. And I think I’m six foot tall so in my mind I think I walk tall, so no, no. No problem at all.” SP embodies a high sense of the performative everyday that she attributes to her physical appearance and that she feels set her apart from other people. Also publicly performing as a photographer, then, was no extra burden of visibility outside of what she normally feels. I asked KP about the more routine experience of bringing her cans and bottles from home when she’s not charged with documenting her actions, and she responded that she thinks it likely that people notice a discrepancy (professionally dressed yet carrying bags of empty bottles) but she has ceased to take notice of them. It was more obvious, she says, when she used to transport the cans and bottles in an oversize Mexican duffel, but when using the bag pictured the contents are less visible. Although there are likely many reasons behind choosing this different bag over her previous open-style duffle, her choice of bag, which is from an upscale housewares store, also plays to a particular audience of fellow commuters. In the public transit setting, while travelling into the financial and business district of Vancouver, KP performs a situationally appropriate 103  identity through her choice of materials, performatively informing the perception people have of her during the commute. The photographic project afforded her a chance to stand out from the crowd and draw attention to her actions. She did not resent the attention, and in fact seemed to welcome it (i.e., her delight in feeling like a performance artist). In terms of public performances, all the participating binners explained in their interviews that they feel they are regularly perceived as dirty, scheming and threatening, even at some of their pickups, but they do find they receive greater respect when they are operating as part of the cart program. DB says, That’s the cool thing about the cart, is well, it’s more, more, it’s just a lot more respectful? Instead of going, like, around [with] a shopping cart and around the garbage and all this, the carts, you know it just looks more professional, right? So instead of looking at you like you’re going through their garbage, it’s just, you know you feel more like a professional recycler guy, right? So it’s better. (…) Yeah without the cart if you’re just going around like this, yeah it just seems weird, like it just seems…like not negative, like not negative negative because it’s, you’re still, like, picking up the recycling so, but it’s still, people still just kinda think you’re, you know, just ah, a homeless person, just as, you know, picking up bottles. The material presence of the cart is that it is built well and looks quite professional. Also, the binners are asked to wear identifying vests with reflective tape to increase their visibility but also to mark them as members of the UBU cart program. CB describes the vests as heavy and scratchy, and very uncomfortable when they get wet in the rain. Because the vests are not liked among the binners, it is primarily the carts that lend cart binners a higher level of legitimacy and acceptance among mainstream society. MB describes the best attributes of the carts and links them to the reception people give him when he’s binning with the cart program: You know, binners in a way have got a bad reputation, which some would deserve, but, you know, it’s like a small percentage can ruin it for everyone. Particularly in the west end [an affluent area of high-end highrise condominium towers adjacent to the downtown Eastside], running through at midnight and making a bunch of noise and 104  roughing, swearing, throwing garbage all over the place… One thing, it’s [the cart is] much quieter, doesn’t make as much noise, right. The carts are well designed. On the bike they look good; they’re not messy. Uh, we tend to take pride in what we do, we’re always, you know, we always make a point in leaving the place in better shape when we leave than when we arrive. (…) I think some people are jealous on the streets and that, right, because we’re sorta the cream of the crop in a way (laughs). Not only do people in mainstream society treat him differently when he is using the cart, so do his peers in and around the United We Can bottle depot. He says the cart binners always make a point of leaving a positive impact on the pick up spaces (as I also discussed earlier), and he identifies the way power flows among people in the Downtown Eastside in this instance. Pile reminds us to watch the flow and course of power, for it is inconsistent and changeable: Power seems to be everywhere, but wherever we look, power is open to gaps, tears, inconsistencies, ambivalences, possibilities for inversion, mimicry [and] parody. … At the heart of questions about resistance lie the questions of spatiality – the politics of lived space. (Pile 1997:27) Pile’s conception of power promises the possibility of subversion and even inversion by the practices we embody in everyday life, similar to how Butler describes the subversive potential of performativity (Butler 2004; Gregson and G. Rose 2000). Further to the legitimacy that binners feel when using the carts, they describe the effect of carrying cameras for a university project as being a source of pride and public interest. MB was stopped by shoppers in Gastown (a high tourist area that overlaps with the Downtown Eastside and where some of the pick up businesses are located) who asked about the camera and the cart. He used the opportunity to give them one of the handouts with details of the project and they had what he describes as a good long conversation about the cart program and the study project. He feels that would not have had the conversation without the camera as an instigating object. MB also creatively used the opportunity afforded by the camera to demonstrate how he believes non-binners perceive him. 105  Figure 4.7 MB in the left image brandishing a weapon, in the right image using it as a binning aide.  In the image on the left, MB poses in a threatening way, brandishing what looks like a vicious sharpened baton. The image on the right shows how MB actually uses the tool to prod and poke and retrieve bags and items from a dumpster. He calls it his second most useful piece of equipment after the cart. I think it’s, like, a golf club, but the end of it has been [bent], like at a ninety degree angle and filed down to a point. So I mean you can take it, right, and actually use it like a prod, and just from the sound of what you’re hitting you can tell what’s in – without ripping open the bags. And again that’s not even getting in, I don’t even have to get in the bin. [Me: Where did you get it?] Ah, I just found it in a bin! (laughs) Where else? Same place I got those cowboy boots. (laughs) The mental image he provides, that of an abandoned pair of cowboy boots lying next to the most effective tool for binning he could have dreamed up, conjures for me a sense of cosmic theatrical direction in that both his costume and his prop were made available to him. MB shares this sense of theatre and performance, and it shows in his images which tend to be more designed and more thought out than the images produced by other contributors. This is not to say the images produced by other participants are lacking in creativity, but perhaps  106  there is an argument to be made for play as a key component of images that create a compelling message. 4.4.3  Material entanglements  The photographs and interviews reveal many anecdotes about the material practices involved in the recycling program. So while socio-economic entanglements are strongly present and influential in the program, the continuing success of the program will be decided where the rubber meets the road. In the original design, the cart’s wheels were inflated rubber, much like a bicycle tire, and binners found they would pop regularly, particularly under heavy loads. The binners took the initiative to replace the inflated tires with hard rubber tires, like those found on a tricycle for a young child. MB and DB have been sailing over rough terrain carrying heavy loads for a couple years now. CB switched back from the hard rubber tires to inflatable tires because, she says, “they are better for going through the bush in Stanley Park20 – for off-roading.” Each individual using a cart develops routines and preferences over time through repeated engagement with the cart and their surroundings. I asked whether the cart could use any adjustments or alterations to the design to improve its functionality for the purposes of the cart program, and although all three binners agreed the cart’s current design is excellent, some changes may improve it. “There’s a couple of joints [on the cart] that don’t seem to take the weight, particularly if you get them full of wine bottles. You know, that’s a lot of weight”. MB highlights the fact that the load on a cart can change dramatically depending on its contents. Glass bottles are much heavier than plastic bottles by volume, so a load that is predominantly glass can stress the cart. Sometimes when the cart is extremely full – a state that everyone involved wants to see – the weight of the load can cause the cart to tip backwards. On the following memorable occasion, recounted by MB, excess weight even forced the back tire of the bike off the ground. A call came from Stanley Park requesting the United We Can truck come to pick up 20  Stanley Park is a large urban greenspace, approximately 400 Hectares, located on the western tip of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. It is a site of First Nation’s heritage, a major tourist attraction, a recreation area, and where many homeless people find community and shelter. Timothy Taylor’s (2001) fictional novel Stanley Park weaves an engaging account of a Vancouver chef whose father lives in the park and scavenges for food, including one night illegally killing a Canadian Goose. 107  a large number of cans and bottles left after an organized group picnic. The truck was not available, so three carts and three bicycles were organized to go pick up the load. We loaded so much on there that we were actually getting branches off trees and sorta making special support structures so we could build up the carts and balance them. I mean I had to stop and pick up a garden hose to use as a rope! We had so much weight on there that we had it perfectly balanced so that if we hit a bump it would actually lift the back seat of the bicycle right up! (…) There was a lot of physics involved, if you think about the balance and the weight… It must have been quite disconcerting for MB to suddenly find himself floated into the air by the weight of the cart behind him, which also meant that he had no peddle power since the drive chain of a bicycle powers the rear wheel. Since that experience, binners distribute the load towards the front of the cart as much as possible for big loads, often loading more by hanging or bungeeing bags off the outside of the cart rather than inside or on top of the basket of the cart. They improvise weight distribution, tie-down options, and personnel solutions to meet the changing needs of the bottle depot business. Part of the weight distribution issue could be resolved by a design change: shifting the axle back from being centred under the cart would shift the centre of gravity and allow heavier loads to be pulled by bike. This change may impact the cart’s use as a handcart, and so a second suggestion is to make the position of the axle adjustable between two or three set points. Because the cart is brought in to businesses, including office floors and restaurants, the width of the cart is sometimes an issue. In Figure 4.8 the photo on the left shows DB tipping a bin of recyclables into his cart outside a pickup. It is a small, crowded bar and the cart does not fit through the small hallway that accesses the area where the empty bottles are kept. Usually this bar, that only serves bottled beer and not draft beer, has a large glass load for pickup so DB spends a lot of extra time moving bins from behind the bar to his cart outside, which leaves partial loads in the cart vulnerable to theft on the street while he is making numerous trips inside. On the other hand, Figure 4.9 shows that the cart is narrow enough to fit easily between cubicles in a workplace environment. GP, whose role at work is similar to that of a building manager, says, “The fire marshal wants between thirty-six inches and forty-two inches for people to have walkways. (…) I mean I guess you could maybe make the cart 108  bigger, slightly bigger, to take more goods but then how does that affect the other uses of the cart?” The problem GP identifies is not that the cart is the wrong size, but that the loads are sometimes too big. But of course, this is not a problem for the cart program – it is the aim of the cart program to collect as many cans and bottles for the deposit as possible.  Figure 4.8 DB shown at a bar pick up where he must carry full bins outside to his cart.  109  Figure 4.9 DB and GP wheeling the cart between cubicle walls in the workplace with ease  The fact that the cart attaches easily to a bicycle makes it possible for the cart program to accept contracts with businesses that are further away from the bottle depot, even outside of the Downtown Eastside, such in the Stanley Park example described above. Still, the further the pick up from the depot, the bigger the task is for cart binners. Greater distance means two things in particular: it is less likely that a binner will desire to travel excessive distance for a pick up, and, because Vancouver is quite a hilly city, it is more likely that you will encounter hills during the trek to a distant pick up. DB shares the exhilaration and the danger of pulling a large cart load by bicycle on the city’s hilly streets: They sell a lot of uh… those large iced tea, that come in glass, right? They’re pretty heavy; it’s a lot, a lot of glass. They have a lot of those, right, and I only go there like once every week or two. They say I could go there more but to me, you know (…) it’s my furthest pick up too, you know like, on Howe [Street] and… yeah, yeah Helmken [Street], so it’s my furthest one, right. So I said the [contact] person’s great and, like, since the load’s so heavy and especially, like, going there is all uphill so, and it’s far, and then coming back is all downhill and usually I’m like, you know, like riding my 110  [bike], and I just fly! And then finally one day going down Pender [Street], I don’t know if you know that hill? That starts right on, I guess, Beatty [Street]? So, just katchoooooo (makes a noise like swooping down a hill at speed) and all of a sudden my cart, since it’s so heavy, it starts shaking, and uh… usually there’s clips in it? Yeah, usually they’re so tight but I guess now since we’re using it so much, I guess so they’re getting looser and looser. So now it starts shaking like this (rocking the table side to side) and all of a sudden I’m like, and of course since the cart’s so heavy, and heavier than me I guess, so now all of a sudden I notice my bike starting to move, so finally I, luckily, I was able to slow down at least, by at least half my speed at least, but then finally the cart just ended up going this way, and yeah, and wiping out, and the cart fell and you know. The bottles were in bags so luckily they weren’t going to fly everywhere, but some of them broke, but not that many but, yeah. I still fell you know and, (laughs) people were looking at me (laughs), so now I take my time down that hill (laughs). Even the simple retelling of that episode brings him viscerally back to being in the moment. He re-embodies the feeling as the cart’s bulk starts to force the bicycle side to side, and he rocks the table we are sitting at in order to bring home the experience for me. At the moment in his storytelling that the cart crashes and the bags of cans ‘fly everywhere’, DB flails his arms and legs, splaying out almost horizontally in a feat of balance on his chair in the hallway where we’re talking. DB’s positive attitude shines through this interview excerpt, and it points to his ease with bicycling in the urban area. He mentions many times that he likes to ride his BMX bicycle for fun, and has even considered the possibility of working as a bicycle courier if the cart program ceases to be an option. He obviously deeply enjoys the feeling of swooping down a hill at top speed, and even though the story ends in a crash that is observed by other people, he laughs off the accident. Through his regular cycling practices on his BMX bicycle, it is likely he has fallen many times while attempting tricks, which has taught him not to fear falling or be traumatised by an accident in which he was not seriously hurt. DB’s regular and repeated material engagements with bicycle riding have prepared him very well for the skills necessary to bodily and socially manage the loaded bicycle in the cart program.  111  4.4.4  Agents of change  Recalling Dieleman’s (2008) argument that building society’s reflexive capacity is a significant step towards effecting change in terms of sustainable transitions, I now look at the ways this photographic project enabled performances by participants as agents of change, including myself. Every person interviewed over the course of this study indicated that they learned a great deal through engagement with the photographic project about how the cart program functions, how it was established, and who is involved, and they built stronger connections between members of the sub-cultures of the cart program. This effect of building social capacity was experienced at all the pick ups where binners took photographs, but, not surprisingly, was strongest at the pick up where employees were also performing as photographers. SP says that, although she has been participating in the cart program for many months, including driving huge bags of cans and bottles to work from her suburban home to donate to the cart program, I didn’t know much about [the cart program] until you. Until your project, I’m learning more about [the cart program]. And actually getting more awareness out of it as well. And to see how much more binners exist other than DB, and what happens in their world, you’ve educated me much more on that one. KP also expresses the impact of her participation in the photographic project in terms of her increased connection to DB: Now, obviously being part of the [photographic] project I’m more friendly with [DB]. We were before but not in the same way. The other thing, too, is that I used to feel badly that he would come and there was almost nothing in there so part of my motivation was at least I’ll give him something to have. (laughs) KP used to donate her cans and bottles to her son’s middle school which operated a perpetual bottle drive as its major fundraising campaign. Her son graduated from the school and instead of returning the items herself for the deposit, she asked GP if they would allow her to bring in her home items to donate to the cart program. In social practice terms, she sought to continue to perform as someone who gives the deposit as a charitable donation to a person or 112  organization with whom she has a personal connection. She was motivated in part by her concern that DB did not make the trip to her workplace in vain, which suggests that she sees a kind of similarity between DB and her son who used to be the recipient of her giving. By redirecting her charitable action rather than recycling the items herself, she has also forged another kind of connection with her son: With my son, you know all the kids are really into recycling and that now, so when he was asking ‘oh where do you take it now’ and I was telling him, you know, he was really happy about that. So it’s kind of a family thing too. Carrying the cans and bottles to work once a week satisfies her son’s desire to see both her sustainability and her charitable practices continue. In some ways, KP’s son is an agent of change in that he encourages his mother to seek out some way to continue the social good she was contributing to his school. In other ways, KP is the change agent who demonstrates for her son, her audience on public transit, and her colleagues, that there are many ways to recycle and many ways to ‘give’. As in KP’s example of charitable and sustainability practices, numerous social practices overlap and intersect in the recycling program. For example, the social practice of ‘working for a wage’ intersects through the actions of the binners with the practice of ‘proenvironmental activity’. In terms of ‘working for a wage’, one of the cart program’s stated goals is to build a sense of responsibility and accountability in participating binners. For security reasons, GP, who is the primary contact for DB at this particular pick up, escorts DB around three floors of offices while doing the pick up rounds. GP sees that DB’s presence at his workplace has a positive impact on the people who work there and he takes opportunities to try and influence how other people see DB and to promote the cart program: I know a few people that don’t work at [the business] in the building and I’ll introduce DB to them as, well… If we’re riding the elevator, I just introduce him as my friend, DB ,who works for United We Can and he picks up our pop bottles and cans – trying, subversely (sic), to, especially if they’re not [our] staff, [to suggest] maybe we could do that in your department, in your section.  113  GP describes the cart as a great conversation piece and sees it as a pivotal object that gives DB access to spaces that are otherwise denied to a binner, and gives GP’s colleagues access to him by starting a conversation about the cart. While DB is the site of a possible social connection, the presence of the cart and its professional appearance facilitate the path to trust and acceptance of DB’s presence in the workplace. “DB’s appearance might change, between the clothes that he’s wearing or whether he’s had a shave or a haircut, something like that. But you recognise the cart, right? So, yeah, he should be there” (GP). Across the range of the images they produced, the photographers constructed and demonstrated the “proliferation of identities” (Ravetz 2007:260) variously assumed within the recycling program including ambassador, janitor, treasure-hunter, collaborator, benefactor, photographer, colleague, and friend. Through the embodiment of these identities, the participants show pride in their accomplishments, capacity for creativity, reflexivity and hard labour, and a sense of anticipation for what the cart program is, can be, and will be. 4.5  A comment on aesthetics  Briefly, I want to address the question of aesthetics in relation to this photographic project. Achieving the aesthetic principle through advanced or skilled photography was never the goal of this study. The production of images was a goal, with the intention that the images could potentially be used in publications for advertising the cart program, and of course for reproduction and analysis in this dissertation. But it was the active and highly contextualized process of art-making, not the art itself, that created the possibility for reflexivity and, therefore, the potential for change. Schutzman uses the term kin(a)esthetics21 in order to emphasize the active and procedural intent of action-based research: Performance studies has affected the very way in which we theorize by foregrounding kin(a)esthetics. In harnessing motion as a way to perceive, we discover motion in what we study; in allowing thought to stray, we discover invaluable deviations and digressions. Kin(a)esthetics marries kinetics (action, transition, force) with aesthetics  21  Schutzman is American and so would normally use the American spelling ‘kinesthetic’. Although adding the (a) results in the Canadian spelling ‘kinaesthetic’ of the same term, his argument for the integration of aesthetic principles in how we research moving bodies is still relatively innovative, and helps describe the performance approach to understanding human action. 114  (strategy, style, perception). Employed as a critical tool, it provides a way to discern the unrecognized aesthetics of performances of everyday life (whether they be material, emotional, or ideological) as well as the movement hidden in seemingly static aesthetic representations of the real. (Schutzman 2006:279) In Schutzman’s description, I read a rich mode of engaging and learning through embodied praxis. By marrying the embodied mobility of kinetics with the emphasis on harmonics and beauty of aesthetics, Schutzman proposes that studies of human action meaningfully consider the ‘strategy, style, and perception’ with which we move through life. I have not promised nor delivered an aesthetic analysis of the images produced during this study, and to be fair many of the images will not yield much in the way of aesthetic value. But a small handful of images do reflect aesthetic principles, particularly those photographs taken by MB. During the interview, which occurred after all the preliminary meetings, and the period of photography, and subsequent meetings, MB finally disclosed to me that he has some aesthetic training, acquired while he pursued a diploma in media studies somewhere in California. Although he did not complete the diploma program, his eye for design and photographic composition is clearly quite developed as evidenced in many of his photos. It is also clear that he had a personal interest in the photographic project from the sheer volume of images he produced, not only with his own camera but because he also took over partially completed cameras from other participants, who felt they had done all they wanted to, and finished the rolls himself. When looking through a roll of film, it is easy to discern where the previous photographer’s shots end and MB’s begin. His images display a trained perspective that seems to portray the dynamism and affective capacity of the medium. For example, Figure 4.4 is an image of the central staircase in the building where MB lives and was made with the stated intention of showing me, the viewer, the truth of ‘how it is’ in his living arrangement that makes it very difficult to bring a cart full of recyclables home for the night. But far more than a simple act of ‘witnessing’ or documenting, his choice of angle and perspective give me a sense of vertigo, immediately conveying the daunting task of ascending or descending the stairs with a large, unwieldy cart of glass and plastic bottles.  115  Figure 4.10 This image is an example of the beauty and artistry evident in some of the images produced.  Figure 4.10 is an image of pigeons in flight taken by MB while he was leaving the bottle depot one day. Perhaps it has little to do with the sustainability practices in the cart program, but is a beautiful image filled with dynamic movement, glorious and awkward flight, and many small visual moments that draw in and fascinate. It is aesthetically engaging and some might find it surprisingly that this image was taken as a single image (i.e., not layered by double exposure or in post-production), with an inexpensive disposable camera. MB also produced images that display the pathos experienced by many in the Downtown Eastside who suffer from addiction and the injuries of a hard life. A sense of resilient humanity pervades his photos, capably portrayed through the use of composition, strategic lighting choices, and perspective. MB has a trained eye and a clear political agenda to show the viewer that the harsh reality of life in the Downtown Eastside is accompanied by a deeply felt sense of community and collective resilience. Through his acts of photography he performs a political role as a witness and a storyteller for those people and those contexts that cannot (or do not) speak for themselves. So while the goal of this study was not to specifically leverage the power of the aesthetic image, subsequent work on sustainability practices can and should 116  delve deeply into the aesthetics of social practice and the potential for an aesthetic approach to have a profound influence on sustainability discourse and its evolution. 4.6  Conclusion  Figure 4.11 DB mugging for the camera. The image will make an excellent publicity shot for a pamphlet.  While there was also a practical goal of producing images that could be used in publicity material to hopefully expand the cart program to more businesses and to include more binners (see Figure 4.11), the procedural intention of taking on a photographic project was to highlight the embodied practices of sustainability routinely enacted by participants that might otherwise slip away from our attention as being unworthy of study. As Merchant (2011) points out, it is possible that research participants do not feel that their embodied experience, in all its sensuousness and vitality, is worthy of study. I found this to be a true and frustrating phenomenon during the course of this research project. When encouraging participants to describe how a moment felt or what aspects of the moment pictured were particularly embodied or performative (although I used more common language with questions such as ‘what does it smell like there?’ or ‘is that bin/bag very heavy?’), I repeatedly encountered resistance to ‘go there’, an omission which seemed to me to stem from the participants’ lack  117  of belief that I really wanted to know their bodily sensations in experiential detail. They often defaulted to responses that upheld the notion of ‘social good’ that circulates within the cart program. For example, when I asked SP if bringing six large bags of recycling in to work for DB’s pick up required any extra effort or ever felt like ‘work’, her emphatic reply came very quickly, “No. Oh no. I like to do it because I know it’s for him.” The question was not whether she enjoyed disliked the task, but whether or not it required larger effort to load the bulky bags into the truck, commute two hours from her suburban acreage (she otherwise travels by transit when not transferring the cans and bottles), negotiate downtown traffic, and find time and space within her work day to meet with DB and GP in the parkade. The question was meant to determine what that process is like in tactile, bodily terms. I suppose that I was hoping for an account relatable, or at least comparable, to DB’s vivid description of the glass shards and needles. Certainly it is possible that she honestly feels no extra burden of labour on these days, but her quick default to an ethical framing of the labour leads me to suspect that she does not think I want to hear about the tactile, sensuous moments of shifting smelly, bulky waste from her garage to her vehicle, and that I in fact want to hear about how perceptive she is to the socioeconomic imbalance that exists between herself and DB. This kind of avoidance was more present in interviews with employees at the pick up, but was also strongly present in CB’s interview and somewhat in MB’s interview. DB provided many strongly felt and evocatively re-performed embodied accounts. For it is no simple task to “take the sensuous, embodied, creativeness of social practice seriously” (Latham 2003:1998). To do so entails walking the narrowest of fences between treating the richly poetic precognitive and pre-lingual lived experience with the reverence it deserves, and satisfying the expectations of study participants and the hegemony of textuality demanded by academia. Latham designed his study of public life in Aukland, New Zealand (which included a diary-photograph and diary-interview methodology), to be “(a) respectful to the people and communities involved in its making; and (b) [to embody] a certain truthfulness consisting both of an intellectual rigour as well as a certain emotional resonance” (Latham 2003:2012). I hold his study, and the thoughtful and reflexive academic publication resulting from it, in high esteem as a very good example of academic work on embodied experience and social practice that directly confronts the bodily exchanges, attitudes, and actions that form the patterns of our lives, and equally meets the theoretical demands of 118  academic publishing. The fact that I feel I was somewhat unable to invoke the “fleeting, immanent feelings, sensations, and connections” (Merchant 2011:58) from many of my participants is likely, in part, a reflection of my constant frustration to express my own embodied experiences in terms that adequately convey the lively sensation of being in the body, in space, and in constant unfolding and becoming with the world. To conduct academic research on the embodied practices of sustainability within the cart program, I have strived to operate within the embodiment paradigm. In this respect, embodied research methods should be collaborative; they should draw upon the creative potential of participants; development of the research and methods should be sensitive to the social and cultural place of participants; and the research should create space for reflexive practice by all those involved (cf. Chapter 2, Section 2.3.4). These conditions were satisfied in the design of the study, but could definitely be taken to another level of integration and influence in future studies of embodied practices, potentially through the application of another method such as video, or combined methods such as combining photography with a written diary (see Latham 2003). The findings from the photographic study with members of the cart program show the deeply entwined relationships of the four substantive sustainability imperatives (ecological, economic, social, and cultural) when sustainability hits the ground running and social practices are performed in everyday contexts by regular people. For example, participants were unable or unwilling to separate the economic drivers of the program from the social entanglements that support and sustain the cart program, and the same can be said for the ecological impacts of recycling and the social milieus through which the cart program (by way of bodies, cans, bottles, carts, vests, bicycles, garden hoses, boarding houses, and subway platforms) circulates. For participants, engagement in the photographic project highlighted the social and economic connections that accompany the ecological goals of the cart program. The procedural intention of the photographic process was to momentarily slow down the actions of the binners and the business employees to provide both space and time for them to reflect on what is involved and what is required for these actions to take place. The photographic method functioned as a kind of reflexive intervention for participants in that 119  they identified and photographed the various material, social, and cultural elements that make up their embodied social practices, and furthermore reflectively identified this process as a learning experience. I see relationship here between the camera as a material intervention that conjures an assumed audience and therefore potentially shifts the practice slightly, and the act of photography as an embodied intervention that repositions the photographer and the photographer’s actions as operating within a more explicit performative web of social relations. Paired with the interview as a unique performance in and of itself, but inseparably linked to the photographic acts, we learned valuable insights from the experiences of people involved in the cart program relating how their social practices in other realms intersect with the practices in the cart program. For instance, KP shared that her motivation for bringing cans and bottles from home grew from and now informs her relationship with her son and his ideas about sustainability practices. Another example is the efforts that binners put in at pick ups to perform a professional image and to distinguish themselves from other binners ‘outside’ of the cart program. All these small performances by individuals within the cart program assemble to form collective practices of sustainability that interweave social, cultural, economic, and ecological dimensions in sometimes unexpected or unanticipated connections. From this kind of approach, as I have shown, it is possible to describe and analyse the circulation of new practices and concepts. Sustainability studies can benefit from these kinds of insights into the embodied practices of people in their everyday routines by learning to see where patterns emerge and change, and from that understanding develop a more effective approach to shift social practices toward sustainability. Together these findings suggest that participatory artsbased methods of engagement can potentially increase the reflexive and social capacity of participants, and illuminate the interplay between substantive imperatives of sustainability in social sustainability practices, where procedural sustainability emerges.  120  Chapter 5: New forms of participation in governance for sustainability This chapter was first wrtten as an article for the academic journal Culture and Local Governance (O’Shea 2011). The version that appears here has been revised from the published version; however the key arguments and some artefacts of the original article remain. By artefacts I mean that the focus of the journal shifted the language and focus of my analysis away from a close embodied perspective of sustainability practices, and toward larger scale implications of participatory embodied research approaches such as arts-based methods on deliberative governance models. The value of the approach in this chapter is clear: pointing beyond individual embodied practices (that are always socially embedded and materially contingent) to the collective scale of action described by governance firmly ties the abstract concept of governance to the bodily ways we make sense of the world (cf. M. Johnson 1999), here manifested via the arts-based methods in my two case studies. The reader of this dissertation will note some repetition in the case study material, but it is reproduced in this chapter to emphasize the project of translation I undertook in order to make embodied practices for sustainability research resonant with the academic literature on participatory governance. Similarly the tone of this chapter is perhaps slightly different from the other chapters of the dissertation. This is a reflection of the intended audience of the journal, and I have left the tone intact here in the dissertation to emphasize the adaptability of an embodied approach when tackling even abstract conceptions such as governance. 5.1  Introduction  “Unleashing the creative imagination can bring about the most extraordinary manifestations of vision and purpose.” (Hawkes 2002:11) Substantive approaches to sustainability seek to address the multiple dimensions of sustainability. For example, Robinson and Tinker (1997) suggest that sustainability requires the achievement of three imperatives: to stay within the carrying capacity of the Earth, to have a just and equitable distribution of resources that provides an adequate material standard of living for all, and to establish patterns of governance that support and reflect the values people hold (also see Robinson 2004). A fourth imperative, to nurture cultural vitality, was first proposed by indigenous communities and soon adopted by international bodies such as 121  UNESCO. In 2004 the cultural imperative was formalized by the United Cities and Local Governments group (a collaborative of 100+ cities worldwide) in the Agenda 21 for culture, a worldwide reference document that advocates for cultural development and the explicit inclusion of culture in governance for a sustainable future (UCLG 2012). These arguments suggest that a style of governance that fully integrates cultural considerations and understands the cultural implications of policy is better able to dynamically address the integrated aims of sustainability and to guide the transition to a sustainable future. To better integrate cultural concerns in governance for sustainability, it is possible to build on the now widely employed participatory processes of deliberative democracy. Deliberative democracy falls within the broader concept of discursive participation, in which the primary activity for engagement is talk which can occur in formal institutional forums or informal interactions including technological forums such as email or internet chat rooms (Delli Carpini, F. L. Cook, and Jacobs 2004; Mendelberg 2002). The aim of a deliberative democratic process is to create a situation in which a variety of stakeholders are brought together to engage in meaningful deliberation on issues of local and/or national or international importance (Ryfe 2005). Including citizens from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles in participatory consultation events helps to reflect the mosaic of society’s values, beliefs, and traditions, but the textual bias of conventional deliberative processes may limit the ability of some members of society to contribute due to language barriers or lack of understanding of the process (Chambers 2003; Delli Carpini et al. 2004). Expanding the scope of deliberative processes beyond mere talk to include alternative modes of inquiry and expression might help to eliminate some such barriers to meaningful participation, and along the way potentially help prolong engagement since participant drop-out is another recorded issue in the literature on deliberative democracy (Ryfe 2005). Although culture permeates all aspects of social and political life, the influence it exerts on governance and policy is difficult to assess, and conversely the impact of policy and governance on cultural understandings and practices can be exceedingly hard to trace. Hawkes (2001) warns that while we must be careful not to conflate culture with art, it is through the arts that communities ‘unleash the creative imagination’ and produce new ‘vision and purpose’, as he states in the quote at the beginning of this chapter. Current styles of 122  governance that favour bureaucracy and limited methods of assessing the needs and desires of the population are often at odds with the adaptive and creative nature of the arts and multivocal, multi-dimensional culture. Potentially, an alternative method of consultation with citizens may have some influence on the style of governance that emerges, and on the outcomes of decision making. Undertaking arts-based approaches for citizen engagement produces new forms of knowledge that are participatory and possibly more equitable than talk-based methods, and that have the potential to contribute to a style of governance that emulates the strengths of cultural and arts-based approaches. Embracing new modes of engagement with citizenry may also shift the locus of governance away from the bureaucratic centre outwards to communities where changes are made on the ground. In this chapter I suggest that including artistic processes in participatory consultative events informs new culturally inclusive styles of governance. This shift also supports an open, adaptive, participatory, and creative governance model that can potentially respond to new voices and alternative modes of communication that have been previously excluded due to the nature of conventional processes. I argue that integrating cultural knowledge in governance through novel forms of engagement helps build equity and social capacity between social groups and between present and future generations, and is better suited to support the transition to a sustainable future. Empirical examples of arts engagement with The Otesha Project and the UBU cart program help demonstrate the power of artistic engagement as a site for the exploration and expression of social values with the aim of building social and cultural capital among citizens and decision-makers alike, and to potentially contribute to an inclusive and innovative style of governance. 5.2  Culture and cultural capital  The first strategy necessary for the inclusion of ‘culture’ in planning, policy-making, and governance, is to determine the most constructive meaning of the term. Colloquially, culture is sometimes defined as the traditional rituals practiced by ethnically defined groups, or as the economically-valued aesthetic products of artists, or sometimes as the trivial indulgences produced liberally by the entertainment sector, i.e., ‘pop culture’. These definitions are neither comprehensive nor productive. In the academic literature, definitions range in level of specificity and in the value that is placed on artistic endeavour in the definition. For example, 123  where sociologist Giddens (1982) equates culture with the fine ‘high’ arts of painting, literature, and music, a more anthropological interpretation defines culture as a set of values and beliefs that inform practices in societies or organizations (Darlow 1996; Throsby 1995). In a similar vein to Darlow and Throsby, Hawkes, who argues for strong integration of culture in governance and planning processes, explains culture as “’the social production of meaning’ or simply ‘making sense’” (2002:11). Similarly, performance studies scholar Conquergood (2006) argues that culture is made in the moments of relation between people and so should be treated as a verb rather than as a static noun because of its active, relational quality. Together these authors argue convincingly that culture is the milieu and the process of how society ‘makes sense’, however culture also has concrete material artefacts and powerful institutional structures that need to be made sense of in our definition. The phrase ‘cultural capital’ was first coined by Bourdieu (1986) to mean assets that provide an individual with social leverage. The assets of cultural capital can take on embodied form as skills acquired over time; they can be objectified in the form of art works, texts, buildings, and other exchangeable assets that hold wealth in the economic sense or the social sense; and cultural capital can be institutionalized in the form of academic qualifications or certifications, meaning it is recognized in an official form by members of society (Bourdieu 1986; Throsby 1999, 2005). Thus, cultural capital can be thought of as the operationalized potential of culture, made operational either through an embodied performance of skills and specialized knowledge, the exchange of cultural objects through economic interaction, or through the cachet and status signification of institutional awards, degrees, etc. These operations, when cultural capital is exchanged or leveraged, exist in the realm of interactions between people and/or social institutions. Currently the predominant form for citizen engagement in government affairs is talk and text-based discourse. None of the forms of cultural capital defined by Bourdieu are accommodated in discursive participation except language skills, such as literacy and rhetoric, which are considered embodied skills acquired over time and experience. Therefore, to incorporate cultural concerns in government processes, we should devise ways of including the range of cultural capital assets in processes of citizen engagement.  124  For the purposes of this chapter, culture is defined as an accumulation of myriad exchanges of beliefs, values, and norms within a localized social realm, which culminates in art works, institutions, innovations, and leverage-able skills. The embodied, objectified, and institutional forms of cultural capital are products specific to the unique assemblages present in a specific social realm. From the social practice perspective (that I adopt throughout this dissertation), both the processes and products of creativity are valued as cultural dimensions of practices in and of themselves, and their economic and social values are entwined. If culture describes how we make sense and the results of that sense, then art describes that aspect of cultural action in which creativity and imagination are the key drivers, where we discover meaning and community in ways that are intuitive, nonlateral and unpredictable, irrational even. (Hawkes 2002:11) As Hawkes states art is a form of cultural action that evokes our creativity and reflexivity. While most art and artistic processes including art with high aesthetic value, conceptual art, and participatory art have reflexive merit and can contribute to collective understandings and mobilisations, Hawkes is most interested in participatory and collaborative arts at the community scale because, the “practice embodies the principle that we are all creative and that we all have a right, a responsibility and a desire to be actively involved in making our own culture. And that if we don’t, it is inevitable that we will become alienated, disconnected and mightily pissed off” (2002:11). Hawkes describes the negative results of denying the creative input of citizens: alienation, disconnection, and frustration or anger. Avoiding these risks through the recognition and incorporation of citizen participation builds social capital of citizens and governments alike. In turn, social capital strengthens “civic participation and localized empowerment via social interaction and sense of community” (Dempsey et al. 2009:1). Participation in civic social life is shown to build social capital and can engender a sense of community with others (Hawkes 2001; Putnam 2000, 2002)22. With specific reference to  22  By this measure, the entertainment sector is a product of cultural processes and in turn produces cultural products, a fact that some critical cultural theorists may deride. Yet the values of society are explored, encultured, and disseminated (perhaps in altered or exaggerated form) via media produced by the entertainment sector, and media (television programming, music, videos, interactive games, etc.) carries weight in today’s 125  deliberative engagement, Mendelberg summarizes an extensive list of studies that report the positive effects of participation: Deliberation is expected to lead to empathy with the other and a broadened sense of people’s own interests through an egalitarian, open-minded and reciprocal process of reasoned argumentation. Following from this result are other benefits: citizens are more enlightened about their own and others’ needs and experiences, can better resolve deep conflict, are more engaged in politics, place their faith in the basic tenets of democracy, perceive their political system as legitimate, and lead a healthier civic life. (Mendelberg 2002:154) Engagement with the arts can result in similar outcomes including increased reflexivity, improved sense of community, transformed perceptions, and new understanding of complex issues (Kagan 2011), so although the talk and text emphasis in deliberative democratic processes probably produces some results that non-lingual processes of engagement are less likely to achieve, the overall effect of engagement on civic issues through the arts may have relative implications for participant learning. Strategies for sustainability that integrate cultural considerations can be defined by five principles which share some of the characteristics of Mendelberg’s list: the advancement of both material and non-material wellbeing; intergenerational equity, including sustained cultural capital; increased equity among the current generation; recognition of the interdependence of all systems (Throsby 1995); and enhanced citizen participation (Darlow 1996). These are essential components of sustainable communities where culture plays a vital and influential role in supporting social cohesion:  information and technology-driven world. The broad reach of communication technologies allows for a wide distribution of media and provides multiple forums for participation by experts and lay people alike. In this dissertation I focus exclusively on embodied moments of performance in real world contexts, where the reach of the bodily practices of community members easily delineates the geography of a given community, but it must be noted that increasingly virtual technologies are effectively defining new communities whose collectively achieved geography transcends the notion of community as a neighbourhood in physical space (cf. Erickson 2010; Hampton 2002; Haythornthwaite 2007; Parrish 2002). The governance implications of virtual communities established and maintained through dispersed technological interactive tools are global in significance and, by virtue of bridging ethnic, political, and religious cultures, intensely complex. The embodied experience of participation in online, technologically mediated, and geographically dispersed communities is far outside the narrow focus of this dissertation, but readers who are interested in this aspect of embodied community participation can begin with (Biocca 1997; and T. L. Taylor 2002). 126  Social cohesion involves building shared values and communities of interpretation, reducing disparities in wealth and income, and generally enabling people to have a sense that they are engaged in common enterprise, facing shared challenges and that they are members of the same communities. (Jenson 1998; as cited in Hawkes 2001) Here Jenson claims another strong argument for incorporating culture into governance processes is the additional benefits of improved economic distribution, and an empowered, responsible citizenry. Explicitly including culture as the fourth imperative of sustainability promotes an ethical and moral approach that elevates cultural acts from being perceived as trivial entertainment or archaic rituals, to being perceived as dynamic and critical expressions of society’s values, hopes and fears. This is fundamental to the complex systems approach that is implicit in sustainability studies (Berkes 1999; Berkes and Folke 1992; Hawkes 2001; Robinson 2008; Throsby 1995), in particular, to sustainability studies that call for interdisciplinary research, integrative policy, citizen participation, and inclusion of the sociocultural dimensions of sustainable futures conveyed by multiple stakeholder voices and inputs (Robinson 2004; Robinson and Tansey 2006; Robinson et al. 2006; Salter, Robinson, and Wiek 2010). Cultural ecology scholar Berkes (1999) argues that the transition from chaos to sustainability23 depends on the existence of diversity; human cultural diversity and biodiversity are equally essential for long-term survival of human life on earth (Gadgill 1987). While we know that variety and diversity are inherent to healthy, resilient systems, the dominant processes of citizen engagement operate almost exclusively through talk and text. This bias is a disservice to the many modes of communication such as gesture, body language, facial expression, drawing, and other actions people use every day to participate fully in society. If what is being sought through such processes of engagement and participation is a fuller picture of the perspectives of individuals who make up society, these processes of engagement should reflect the dynamism and complexity with which we express our views.  23  This is not to say that chaos and sustainability are polar opposites. In fact, complex systems thinking would perhaps argue that some element of chaos must be present in a sustainable system that is dynamically stable. A chaotic element that perturbs the system initiates change and tests the adaptability and resilience of the system. Adaptability and resilience are key characteristics of sustainable futures. Rather, by making the distinction between chaos and sustainability Berkes highlights the need for recognition of the interconnectedness of all things, and the need for balance between components of a system. 127  5.3  Governance for sustainability  Sustainability is a multidimensional and dynamic concept that has fundamental implications for the governance of society. “The concept of sustainability has brought with it recognition of the limits of rigid analysis and the inadequacy of policy approaches that aim at planning and achieving predetermined outcomes” (Voss, Bauknecht, and Kemp 2006:4). Integrating diverse cultural perspectives into governance and policy is thus essential for good governance for a sustainable future, however this requires that the processes of data collection and measurement used to inform governments and used to assess the cultural impacts of policy be inclusive, equitable, and receptive (Healey 2004; Markusen and Gadwa 2010; Rathgeb Smith 2010; Sandercock 1998). This is a daunting task for governments that are deeply immersed in governance cultures of restraint and top-down control (Healey 2004). Culture is difficult to assess and measure because it is constantly evolving. Concurrently, the norms and goals of cultural planning and policy are rarely explicitly stated (Darlow 1996; Markusen and Gadwa 2010). This points two ways: that a functional means of accurately measuring and assessing cultural impacts has yet to be designed24 (and culture is inherently at odds with measurable accuracy in the sense that it eludes capture through constant evolution and iteration), and that a style of citizen consultation could be developed that better embraces culture as a critical and influential component of our dynamic society by opening up modes of participation to include the exchange of cultural capital. Going even further, without the acknowledgment and integration of culture in policy decisions, it is less likely that communities will support the resulting policy with trust or acceptance. Hawkes suggests that: No amount of government regulation will be effective unless it is administered in a climate of widespread community commitment to these concepts. This climate can be facilitated by concerted cultural action. (Hawkes 2001:37) For all the slipperiness of culture, art remains “the paramount symbolic language through which shifting meanings are presented” (Hawkes 2001:23). Engagement with the arts builds  24  There are economic models of culture’s value to society, the most recognized being Florida’s (2005) evaluation of the ‘creative class’ and its ability to attract financial growth to urban centres. Such models are premised almost exclusively on the asset value of cultural products and processes, which is a severely anaemic reduction of the integrated and multifaceted model of culture taken up in this chapter and dissertation. 128  creativity, lateral thinking, risk-taking, cooperative willingness, and innovation (Hawkes 2001), which are many of the same advantages claimed by proponents of deliberative democracy (Chambers 2003; Fishkin 1995; Mendelberg 2002; Ryfe 2005). Related to this discussion of what the arts can offer governments in terms of participatory processes, governance scholar Healy (2004) takes her cue from artistic processes to ask what influence creativity can have on governance models and practices. She argues that three manifestations of creativity should become objectives for an improved style of governance, including: being adaptive and flexible, enriching human experience, and creating new objects like market niches, governance practices, or infrastructure. While a model of governance that values emergence would be adaptable and flexible under changing conditions, having the strategic capacity to perceive innovation and foresee its potential application is equally, if not more, important than having the capacity to adapt to changing conditions. Increased citizen participation multiplies the diversity of inputs to decision-makers, improving the rate of innovation while also building social capital through strengthened civic participation and empowered citizenry (Dempsey et al. 2009; Robinson and Tansey 2006; Salter et al. 2010). By increasing the kinds of participation available to citizens, such as including arts-based activities in deliberative processes, the number and diversity of voices brought into discussion on the issues is likely to further multiply, and more people are exposed to the hoped-for benefits of engagement such as increased buy-in and acceptance of policy decisions. This is the best-case scenario: that participatory engagement results in improved quality of decisions and increased trust and acceptance of decisions (Salter et al. 2010). The positive effects of participatory engagement are well documented, but they are certainly not guaranteed (Ryfe 2005). Pointing to the risks and disadvantages of public participation, Sandercock (2000) claims that increased participation in a system of communication that is foreign to many citizens will rarely result in consensus and, even in cases where consensus is achieved, it is even more rarely transformative. This may be due to barriers in language, cultural tradition, or simple ignorance of the processes of governance and participation. Delli Caprini et al. (2004) report on studies that found two possible negative outcomes in deliberative scenarios where the group is composed of sub-groups of differing language ability. In some cases, the views of people of lower-status (who generally in these studies also have lower language ability) converge toward the views of the higher-status group 129  members. In other cases, language differences serve to reinforce sub-group boundaries and decrease willingness to cooperate across sub-groups. The point here is not to suggest replacement of established discursive processes for engagement, but to offer additional opportunities for engagement that appeal to people who will not or cannot respond to calls for discursive participation. Artistic civic engagement through photographic projects, painting, drawing, musical or theatrical performance, or other kinds of creation and expression present other possibilities for deliberative participation that is perhaps more appealing or more accessible to some members of society whose views are equally valid although possibly more rarely heard. In regards to Sandercock’s emphasis on consensus (above), in the terms of procedural sustainability, the primary goal of participatory processes is the facilitation of dialogue as an end in itself, not the establishment of consensus. Solutions, suggestions, and new questions can emerge from interactive conversation, and as I discuss in Section 2.2.2, sustainability can be usefully thought of as a robust property that emerges from collaborative practices and conversations (Robinson 2004; Robinson and Tansey 2006). The literature on deliberative democracy similarly values process over end product, stating that consensus need not be the ultimate goal of deliberative processes for benefits to still arise (Chambers 2003; Delli Carpini et al. 2004; Fishkin 1995). Fishkin argues that in practical circumstances, deliberative democratic processes will always be imperfect and incomplete (meaning actual deliberation is not fully achieved), so improving deliberation “is a matter of improving the completeness of the debate and the public’s engagement in it, not a matter of perfecting it” (1995:41). However, prioritizing collaborative, dialogic process over consensus building does not reduce the need to address the barriers to participation Sandercock raises. She suggests that city officials train to become versed in “a range of ways of knowing and communicating: from storytelling to listening to interpreting visual and body language” (2000:25–26). Including innovative forms of public participation such as artistic forms of engagement led by trained government officials may help bridge the barriers to meaningful participation identified by Sandercock. Similarly, cultural planners should receive interdisciplinary training to reflect the evolving goals of urban development (Bianchini and Parkinson 1994; 130  Ghilardi 2001). City and cultural planners should be sensitive to the tensions that exist between the goals of achieving sustainability and embracing a governance style influenced by culture and the arts. For example, cultural planners often want to centralize the arts into one district that can function as a nexus of creativity. Sustainability planning directives prefer to distribute cultural assets around the city, decentralizing to take better advantage of cultural diversity in neighbourhoods and to reduce measures such as travel time to and from venues (Darlow 1996). Therefore, rather than focussing on the products of citizen consultation as the site where cultural concerns are addressed, such as municipal zoning plans, a more fruitful strategy focuses on supporting experimentation and increasing the reflexive capacity of citizens and officials, alike. The search for socially innovative governance initiatives should therefore focus on the capacity for experimentation and reflective learning, and on actions which destabilise existing relations and open up the ‘cracks’ and contradictions, not just the most visible innovations which introduce a new arena, actors, repertoire, policy idea or practice. (González and Healey 2005:2065) Transitioning to governance models that promote citizen engagement and equitable (accessible) participation, and which are adaptive to changing circumstances is not simple. It will take “slow, hard, conflict-ridden, time-consuming and time-taking micro-level work” (Healey 2002:176) to build the social capital required of those who govern and those who are governed. The line between the two camps will blur as the locus of governance shifts and expands, reflecting a more fluid system of regulation and information flow that breaks down the assumption that there exists a boundary that separates the governed from the governors in an us/them relationship. In fact, although governance in its broadest sense is about directing the trajectories of social change, the mechanisms of governance often result in unpredictable and unexpected social practices. “Governance practices evolve in an historically and geographically situated way, through all kinds of synergistic encounters, contradictions, conflicts and active struggles” resulting in complex trajectories of transformation that are unpredictable and contingent (González and Healey 2005:2056). Engaging communities through artistic approaches can build reflexive capacity among participants and therefore better prepare citizens and governments for the transitions ahead (Dieleman 2008). 131  5.4  Arts inquiry and practice informs new styles of governance  At the level of daily life, the abstract structures and systems crafting the social sphere of action break down into “particular people, practices and performances” (Conquergood 2006). To this end, the local and everyday scale of governance and policy impacts can be meaningfully investigated by thinking of society’s arts as performative actions that reveal our norms, beliefs, and values – that is, our culture. Bourriaud describes art as “an interface between human society and the invisible forces governing its movements” (2002:27). And Thrift & Dewsbury (2000) argue that because we experience ‘meaning’ and ‘sense’ in life as contingent and fluid, as responsive to the material and social context of the moment, this “leads us inevitably to the performing arts, for it is amongst their practices that we find fluid spaces worked up, worked on, and worked out” (2000:419). Dieleman (2008), too, argues that engaging people through the arts empowers them to be reflexive and emotional in a way that other text and talk-based forms of deliberative engagement cannot access. He believes that “we should look at sustainability as a ‘more than rational’ change process” (2008:117), requiring “the language of forms and metaphors, images, music, theatre, and the like” (2008:136). People cope with daily life by acting creatively, constantly generating relational and dialogic approaches that respond to unique situations uniquely. At the same time, our actions do not exist in a social or political vacuum; Human actions have moral, ethical, and practical dimensions. Coping with daily life depends on having fluency with multiple modes of communication (language, bodily practices, facial expressions, economics, and others) (David Crouch 2003). The performances of daily life are deeply embodied, soliciting our bodily histories and experiences to help guide our actions in present space and time, while creating and responding to affective encounters (Blackman and Venn 2010). The material, social, and contingent natures of everyday life should be investigated using a method that is synchronous with the experience, that is, the strategy of investigation should be embodied, participatory, and creative, so that those same characteristics of the human experience can be reflected in the data generated. Applying this kind of strategy with communities performing sustainability practices has the potential to paint a more nuanced portrait of how sustainability is embodied at the level of social action. Furthermore, the variety of forms of 132  data produced by using arts-based methods for deliberative engagement can reach new audiences that traditional environmental and social awareness strategies have not reached through their novel appeal and use of varied forms of communication other than merely talk and text (Darlow 1996). 5.5  Lessons from arts engagement with communities  Two examples of arts-based eco-minded community projects that present engagement through the arts as both a critical practice and a meaningful form of inquiry help demonstrate the power of arts-based engagement to build social capital and model possible ways of integrating artistic engagement in deliberative processes. In the first example, The Otesha Project tour group members battle with understanding, contributing to, and accepting collective action and decision-making, while becoming individually empowered to take on new and bigger projects for a sustainable future25. The interplay between their experiences acting on stage and everyday activities off stage reveals the tension they felt between the prescriptive lessons in the play and the heavily negotiated, socially- and culturally-mediated embodied experiences of sustainability off stage. In the second example, participants of the UBU cart community recycling program undertake a photographic method of data creation with the aim of improving the recycling program26. Their project uses artistic engagement as a rich form of inquiry to produce increased social and reflexive capacity among participants and multi-media results that can also be used subsequently as promotional and lobbying materials. This chapter will demonstrate the power of artistic engagement to build social capital and to contribute to a style of governance that is inclusive, participatory, equitable, and sustainable. 5.5.1  Theatre for sustainability – The Otesha Project  The Otesha Project is a youth-run, charitable organization that sends groups of volunteers between the ages of eighteen and thirty on two-month cycle tours in regions of Canada. Through a theatrical play and interactive games, the groups teach audiences about environmental awareness and sustainable behaviours (The Otesha Project 2012). For this 25  See Section 3.1.1 for a full description of The Otesha Project and the methods used in this case study. See Section 4.1.1 for a full description of the UBU cart recycling program, and Section 4.3.1 for a description of the methods used in this case study. 26  133  study, I filmed tour members of the 2008 Sunshine Coast performing and cycling tour as they performed the play in two different locations, and conducted semi-structured, open-ended interviews by phone with five of the eleven tour members and one tour organizer in Ottawa one month after the tour ended. The founders of The Otesha Project intended for the tour experience to be transformative for tour members, teaching them about alternative transportation, collective action, sustainable food systems, and community dynamics (The Otesha Project 2008). Tour members interviewed all reported feeling empowered by their experiences during the tour. One tour member described her fear of calling herself an environmentalist before the tour because the act of claiming that identity left her vulnerable to attack. After playing a variety of roles on stage, she felt more comfortable claiming an identity for herself, secure in the knowledge that she could adopt a new identity in the future. Another tour member reported that he learned from a more seasoned performer in the group to make eye contact with audience members as a stage technique to engage the audience. He now recognizes and routinely uses the power of eye contact in everyday interactions. Three of the five tour members interviewed describe being more willing to engage in other collective activities and new projects after their experience with The Otesha Project since they realized they were able to engage people on these issues without extensive preparation or education. Their confidence grew from navigating their roles off stage within the ‘mobile intentional community’ and with strangers along the tour much more so than from their experience of acting a part (or parts) on stage. I was curious as to whether this outcome was due to the necessity of ‘thinking on your feet’ in day-to-day activities as opposed to performing the prepared lines of a script. When asked about creativity and the role of improvisation in the play, the reaction was mixed. Some tour members felt that improvisation occurred regularly on stage and kept the performances alive, yet other tour members described improvising as “dangerous” since it risked leaving fellow actors unprepared and potentially alienating audiences. During group discussions, they collectively decided to limit on-stage improvisation to minimize that risk, but some interviewees still reported more improvisation happening than they were comfortable with. It is possible that their discomfort points to a deeper issue about the locus of control of their message, including who has the right and the power to decide what goes 134  out to the audience. Discomfort with strict power hierarchies resonates in the creative governance literature where Healey (2004) explains the need to balance the enabling and constraining dimensions of governance. Good governance for a sustainable future must find a dynamic balance between innovation and stability, much like Otesha tour members collectively needed to find a balance between improvisation and consistent messaging. Their opportunity to explore the tension between innovation and routine nicely embodied the tension experienced by institutions and organizations that must respond to changing conditions while maintaining some sense of stability. Those tour members resisting improvisation on stage were afraid that the performance would stray from the script and that improvisation put the success of the performance at risk. The sustainable future remains to be defined, especially in the face of the fundamental uncertainty of predictive climate science (Robinson 2003). Inclusive governance that shifts the locus of control from few to many must acknowledge the potential of emergent solutions that can bloom from innovation, creativity, and improvisation, and the risks associated with such a loss of control. Through their experiences with improvisation, it is possible for Otesha Project members to learn about this tension by performing it in on a small scale, and relating that to larger scale shifts in social practice. Tour members also experienced the tensions inherent in social change that are clearly present in the sustainability transition. One tour member purchased bananas with group funds, which caused uproar when other members reacted against the catastrophe of crop monocultures and high food miles embodied in the banana. This episode sparked a period of conflict as they tried to come to some resolution where all tour members could fuel adequately for the long hours of cycling without expanding the eco-footprint of the group. The play delivered normative messages about acceptable sustainability and consumer behaviours, but tour members struggled to resolve the cognitive substance of the play with their embodied practices off stage. This suggests that in their day-to-day experiences on tour a procedural and emergent form of sustainability was more relevant and immediately meaningful than the substantive and expert-driven form of sustainability depicted in the play, which they continued to feel was also important and larger than themselves in some way. This dynamic of nested scales of meaning and personal or collective relevance is an important lesson that can be related to decisions that must be made at various scales of government. 135  Acting in the play did teach some tour members lessons about the transition to sustainability. For example, playing the role of a parent on stage allowed one tour member to better understand the hurt her parents were feeling when she rejected their consumerist lifestyle. They worked hard to provide all possible comforts for her, and now she could see how her choice to use only alternative transportation, follow a vegan diet, and live simply appeared to reject their well-intentioned efforts. This example demonstrates the power of performative reflexivity to teach empathic understanding, a valuable skill in the context of collective processes of deliberation. In the Otesha example of performance art as the practice of sustainability, tour members gained social cohesion, self-empowerment, and the opportunity to creatively experiment with identity. They collectively explored the advantages and risks of improvisation, encountering at a micro-scale many of the conflicts that serve as barriers to collective decision-making for sustainability at larger scales. It can be seen from the interviews that the performative act on stage opened up the potential for tour members to learn about themselves, their choices, and their social groups. Otesha tour members employed a practice mode of engaging audiences on sustainable choices through an artistic play, and experienced an inquiry mode of arts engagement as they explored living as a group off stage through the lens of the play. Tour members serve as both educators and pupils of how to build cultural, social, and reflexive capital in a sustainability context. Their efforts and personal and collective growth are models for participatory engagement and deliberation that could be adapted for processes of citizen engagement. In the next example, participants in a community recycling programme were invited to participate in an arts-based method of data collection, an explicit use of the arts as a mode of inquiry, in the hope of identifying the program’s successes and barriers to success. 5.5.2  Photography as inquiry – UBU cart program  When I engaged with the UBU cart program, it was experiencing a few problems and program managers wanted to resolve the issues and expand the program to include more binners and more businesses. In particular, a lack of social connection between the UBU binners and employees at the pick-up businesses and condo associations was noted as a significant barrier to improving the working conditions for the binners and to the overall 136  functioning of the program. I suggested we use a participatory photographic method to identify the barriers the program was experiencing, and hopefully strengthen relationships between binners and business and association employees. In this study, three UBU binners and three employees at one of the pick-up businesses took pictures of their participation in the cart program with disposable cameras I provided. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with each photographer based around the images they created during the project. The photographic project allowed participants to document aspects of the recycling program that were going well, and that could be improved. The binners took photographs of pick-ups that are kept very clean and organized, and of pick-ups where the bins are filthy and inches deep in broken glass. Two binners took ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of a garbage room in a condo tower where they spend considerable time cleaning up messes left by other people. The photographic project allowed them to document an action they take pride in but that is beyond the dictates of their job as UBU cart binners. One binner took images of his living space to show the program coordinators why he cannot take a cart home as there is not enough space for it in his small rented room. This identified an issue that must be resolved with the bottle depot of what can be done with the carts if binners miss the depot’s open hours, particularly with a full cart of recyclables that would be stolen if left outside overnight. Two of the three binners in the photographic project reported enjoying the opportunity to engage members of the public in the photography when they had to ask someone to take their picture, which sparked conversation about the recycling program. Binners say they regularly feel spurned by members of the mainstream public, and even some participants at pick ups in the cart program, for appearing dirty and underprivileged. The cameras along with a handout on the project and its association with the university were a form of legitimizing currency that helped build trust with others. One binner, MB, took the opportunity to visually present his embodied experience as a person on the margins of the mainstream. See Figure 5.1 for two images taken by a binner, the first showing how he imagines people perceive him – as threatening – and the second image of him using his ‘threatening‘ tool to access bags of garbage in large dumpsters. The photographic project enabled him to build social capital with 137  strangers who learned more about the cart program when they asked about his camera, and he leveraged cultural capital by producing images that speak powerfully of his experience and which can be shared with other people to initiate dialogue.  Figure 5.1 The image on the left shows MB as threatening. The image on the right shows him using the sharpened club to retrieve garbage bags from a dumpster.  The employees at the pick-up business also described social gains they felt stemmed from the photographic project. One employee says she learned far more about the recycling program and about the binner who regularly works her route through participation in the photographic project than she had learned just by participating in the cart program. She brought her recyclables from home to be collected by the binner for over a year before the photographic project, but had not made a personal connection with him. Another employee said that taking the photographs made her think more deeply about the lifecycle of recyclables and the social network the cans and bottles have created through the cart program and the bottle depot. This demonstrates the power of the photographic exercise to create space and cause for the participant to reflect on her actions and networks. See Figure 5.2 for some images from her “day in the life of” series depicting her recyclables moving from her home to her workplace along public transit to eventually be picked up by the cart binner.  138  Figure 5.2 This series of images shows a bag of cans and bottles being transported from home by bus and subway to the workplace.  An intended outcome of the photographic project is to use some of the images in promotional material that can be distributed in the hopes of expanding the program. Further, with the images in hand, the founder of the bottle depot hopes to lobby city council, demonstrating the social good of the grassroots enterprise to garner support for a second depot in an adjacent region. He believes the images pack an emotional punch that will help convince council members that the depot’s alternative governance and finance models satisfy a green niche market that municipal contracts have been unable to identify (Seyfang and Smith 2007). An unanticipated but very positive outcome that emerged from interviews with participants was that some of them now feel empowered to identify themselves as creative individuals. As one employee excitedly stated, “I felt like I was doing performance art!” while shooting photographs in a public area. This outcome indicates photographic project participants increased their cultural capital, and satisfies Hawkes’ (2001) call to improve the artistic capacity of regular citizens so that they may participate more readily and reflexively in participatory processes to inform governance. In the previous case study, Otesha tour members and audiences also gained cultural capital through their theatrical experiences. In the UBU cart program example of using an arts-based method as inquiry into the complexities of sustainability practices, participants recognized the value of building social connectedness through shared experience. Participation in the project increased their social capacity and improved the longevity of the recycling program in the process by strengthening the social ties between binners and employees at some pick ups. The sustainability of the 139  program was assessed: facilitative infrastructures specific to the program were both identified and imagined, barriers to the program’s evolution were identified, and possible uses of the material products of the photographic project were envisioned that have the potential to support an evolving, sustained community-driven recycling program. 5.6  Conclusions  A sustainable future will be achieved only through significant transformative change in our individual and collective practices, forged in part by citizen participation in governance. The transformative potential of artistic inquiry and practice can be productively taken up in the quest for sustainability by the inclusion of arts-based methods for participatory engagement (Dieleman 2008), and the integration of culture in governance styles for sustainability (Hawkes 2001, 2002). Including a range of opportunities for participatory engagement offers an exploratory, multi-vocal, and ripe ground for civic innovation; this is in distinct opposition to path-dependent top-down approaches to governance in which “entrenched cognitive, social, economic, institutional processes lock us into trajectories and lock out sustainable alternatives” (Seyfang and Smith 2007:588). As vehicles for learning the desires and perceptions of citizens, participatory artistic methods of engagement and deliberation provide a platform for the voices of diverse social actors in sometimes-unusual forms of expression such as visual, musical, embodied, etc. Two valuable potential outcomes have been identified in this chapter: expanding the range of kinds of participation available to citizens should increase the number and diversity of people who choose to participate; and artistic processes provide different kinds of input for decision-makers that reflect the values and beliefs of participants, which may result in decisions that more closely resemble the populations desires and ambitions. Collaborative artistic inquiry can offer rich opportunities for deliberative engagement that requires much more bodily and creative involvement than forms of deliberation that simply consist of talk and text. Embracing a variety of forms of participation is a move towards inclusive practices that establish a supportive environment for more equitable dialogue than conventional approaches to citizen engagement that predominantly use talk as the sole medium of engagement (Chambers 2003; Delli Carpini et al. 2004; Ryfe 2005). Employing arts methods in an effort to improve inclusive and equitable citizen participation is, in part, 140  an attempt to help characterize (as collaborative, creative, diverse, affective) the information supplied to decision-makers such that it might better support and influence governance outputs (policy, norms, strategies that respond to citizen input). It is hoped that policies and strategies produced through participatory processes more accurately represent citizen desires, and research shows that governments employing this kind of citizen engagement also build social capital that bridges across and between diverse social and cultural groups (Dempsey et al. 2009; Hawkes 2001; Putnam 2002). According to Putnam (2000, 2002), social bridging and increased social capital are more likely to mobilize citizens, create safer neighbourhoods, increase economic development, and empower community action. Arts-based methods like theatre and photography, as reported on here, help to make visible the particular people, practices, and performances that shape and are shaped by, in part, the local style of governance. These two case studies present empirical approaches that could be adapted for government-led processes of participatory engagement. They help demonstrate the potential for artistic inquiry to provide opportunities for learning about the self and others, and about local and global processes of change. Results from artistic inquiry-cum research methods provide insight into the lives and practices, beliefs and values of community members, which can then be brought forward into consultation and negotiation processes, enabling participation in governance by citizens who may not otherwise engage of their own accord in conventional talk-based governance forums. However, incorporating cultural dimensions and broadening the scope of acceptable forms of citizen input may also introduce difficulties for which governing groups should be prepared, including lack of consensus. Contrary to this being perceived as a weakness, the lack of consensus resulting from participatory deliberative processes should not indicate a failed process. The act of engaging in deliberation, whether it be talk-based or more artistic in its approach, is a valuable exercise that has the potential to transform perceptions and build a more engaged and informed citizenry. However, governance goals include making decisions that will push economic and social development in one direction or another. To meet these goals while committing to meaningful citizen participation requires bi-directional commitment and education. Citizens should feel that the barriers to participation are low; this condition is improved, I argue, by the inclusion and development of multiple kinds of participatory opportunities. Decision makers need to feel that input from citizens is 141  comprehensible and legitimate; for them to feel satisfied that arts-based methods for engagement produce valuable processes and valid results, they should be exposed to additional training that prepares them for the variety of lessons that may arise during such processes (Chambers 2003; Sandercock 2004). Citizen input that results from arts-based engagement may appear to some government officials as merely window-dressing and will be criticized by some as a distraction from critical issues. These concerns are valid and must be addressed throughout the transition process to a new style of governance if cultural dimensions are to be successfully integrated into governance models, and to positively impact governance processes and outcomes. It will not be an easy transition to a style of governance that emulates the strengths of deliberative, participatory, embodied and creative citizen engagement, and it will take time, but the anticipated results are a more sustainable model of governance that shares the values, beliefs, and desires of its governed people, that values innovation and creativity, and that promotes equity and citizen participation in all forms. New governance styles that integrate cultural concerns by way of participatory engagement processes shift the locus of government outward from the centre to a more distributed model of power. A diverse and distributed system of governance is arguably more robust by virtue of being more representative of society’s values. This model also predicts a more procedurally emergent form of governance that assumes many of the advantages of procedural sustainability including that it emerges from actual social practices, is fluid and adaptive under changing conditions, and contributes to a more engaged and empowered citizenry. The most advantageous outcome of participatory processes for informing governance is increased quality of decisions and greater acceptance of decisions and policy by a population that is engaged and therefore informed. To effect these changes in current forms of governance, government officials, planners, and facilitators must be trained in interdisciplinary approaches and sensitive to a diverse range of ways of knowing and communicating, including through creative and embodied arts praxis. The best strategy for achieving positive outcomes in this model is to focus on experimentation, improved access and inclusivity, and facilitating engagement as opposed to aiming for consensus.  142  Chapter 6: Conclusion 6.1  Introduction  In this dissertation I strove to bring the embodied dimensions of sustainability to the forefront of community-scale sustainability discourse and research practice. Emphasising those embodied engagements that are at the core of sustainability practices supports the argument made by Robinson and his colleagues that sustainability should be studied as a procedural phenomenon that emerges on the ground, in daily life, at the confluence of the material, social, and cultural entanglements that constitute human experience (Carmichael et al. 2005; Robinson 2004; Robinson and Tansey 2006). Linking embodied performances of sustainability in everyday life to larger patterns of social practices locates sustainability at the procedural level of discourse and the human scale of action. This dissertation is premised on the belief that sustainability is culturally, socially, and bodily mediated, and that the bodily component has been significantly understudied to the detriment of the sustainability project; therefore the embodied nature of emergent social practices for sustainability is of paramount importance for work that seeks to facilitate transformative change for the sustainable future. Through investigating embodied dimensions of social sustainability practices at the community-scale, my dissertation project improves our understanding of the procedural and emergent nature of sustainability as a performative and embodied phenomenon that occurs in a complex web of material, social, and cultural concerns. With this project, I aimed to articulate and animate what I see as a missing piece of the majority of sustainability-oriented research, our inherent embodiment. To achieve this aim, in Chapter 2 I elucidated the bodily basis for human understanding, defended the inclusion of embodiment in sustainability research, and proposed performance studies as a strategic starting point for embodied studies of sustainability. In Chapters 3 and 4 I presented two case studies of using an embodied and arts-based approach to study collective sustainability practices (borrowing theory and methods from performance studies). In Chapter 5 I explored the potential implications to governance of including an embodied and artistic approach in participatory studies of community-scale sustainability.  143  In this final chapter I reflect on the process, experience, and outcomes resulting from this approach. One of the primary goals of this chapter is to bring together the theoretical arguments presented in Chapter 2 with the key findings from two case studies on embodied, performed sustainability in Chapters 3 and 4 and the implications of an artistic approach to participatory engagement with citizens discussed in Chapter 5 in order to synthesise the overall findings of the study. I begin in Section 6.2.1 by briefly outlining the structures for analysis developed in Chapter 2 that constitute some of the theoretical contributions of the dissertation, and in Section 6.2.2 briefly describe the case studies and outline the major findings in each. Then in Section 6.3 I weave together the overall findings in the dissertation by revisiting the research questions retrospectively. With this strategy I am able to present my key findings as themes that cut across and between the chapters of the dissertation and reflect on what role performance and embodiment play in processes of procedural and emergent sustainability. In the final section I address the strengths and weaknesses of the approach I took in my doctoral project, and present some possibilities for future research. 6.2  Summary of the dissertation  In this section I briefly reintroduce the supportive structures I developed to frame the research project and guide analysis of the case studies. 6.2.1  Supportive structures in this dissertation  One of the contributions to the academic literature I make is the development of two theoretical structures derived from the literature that I have used as guides while wandering through the difficult tasks of making disparate literatures harmonise and multiple empirical ‘texts’ make sense. In Chapter 2, I presented the results of a major literature review on embodiment by synthesising the vast and somewhat nebulous concept into six fundamental characteristics that define and elucidate embodiment. They are as follows: •  Embodiment is corporeal but not exclusively so.  •  Embodiment is synaesthetic.  •  Embodiment is dialogic. 144  •  Embodiment is historicized.  •  Embodiment is mobile in space and time.  •  Embodiment is affective.  These fundamental characteristics of embodiment informed all of my subsequent work by directing my focus toward particular researchers and research projects that address these qualities of embodied life, methods and methodological approaches that foreground and integrate multiple fundamental characteristics of embodiment, and the selection of communities for case studies where the fundamental characteristics are traceable and highly relevant to the lived experience of community members. Therefore, the embodiment paradigm defined by the six fundamental characteristics functioned as a kind of screening device for the development of the study project. Although this approach allowed me to produce a dissertation firmly anchored in the practices and experiences of sustainability as it is lived in the body, it is an identifiable bias that colours every decision made in the process of navigating my doctoral work. The second structure I developed in Chapter 2 is the typology for structured analysis derived from an extensive literature review of performance studies and other disciplines that have employed a performance approach. While reviewing the literature, I identified dimensions of performance that appeared to be key in performance-type analyses of other researchers, and sought to arrange these key dimensions in a format that reflects the level of necessity and abstraction (or solidity) of each dimension. The typology is formed in three parts: performance properties, performance elements, and concepts and abstractions. The inherent properties of a performance become specified by select performance elements, and together they influence the concepts and abstractions in the performance thereby establishing a new socio-cultural context for future performances (see Figure 2.1 in Chapter 2). Developing the performance typology helped me in two ways: (1) the process of assembling and parsing countless performance-related texts gave me a very good understanding for the style of work and the various approaches used across disciplines in this vein, and (2) the typology operated as a starting ground from which I could begin to build a nuanced yet clear narrative of the complexly layered embodied experiences of study participants in each case study. While my performance typology is perhaps a staid representation of the animated and 145  lively work being produced in academic performance studies, my ability to see (or at the very least, my ability to look for) the elements that make up performances of social practices was improved dramatically by the existence of a structured guide. After deconstructing the performances of sustainability by study participants with the typology, it was then my responsibility to reanimate and re-embody the vibrancy of their performances for my reader in a comprehensive and academically acceptable format. I can only aspire to adequately and honestly re-perform their experiences with this approach, and as Blackman and Venn suggest, in studies of affect and embodied practices, the “researcher is placed not as a neutral observer but rather as somebody who interferes and helps to orient the interviewee to that which might usually remain unsaid” (2010:18). The performance typology I developed helped me to ‘interfere and orient’ participants to the focus of my study, and guided my analysis of the research ‘texts’, but in reassembling participant narratives for the purposes of the dissertation, I erred on the side of integration and complexity in the hope of performing their contributions with the level of multiplicity and contingency they were shared with me. 6.2.2  Summary of case studies and key findings  Chapter 3 details my interaction with members of The Otesha Project 2008 Sunshine Coast performing and cycling tour group. I observed the group over two days, filmed their play “Reason to Dream” on two different nights in two different locations (an outdoor amphitheatre and inside a community centre gymnasium), and interviewed five members of the group by telephone after the tour had ended. Tour members performed a version of sustainability in the play, and performed everyday sustainability practices outside of the play in their various capacities and social roles. My analysis of their performative experiences of embodying sustainability was guided by the performance typology and resulted in two key findings. Firstly, the tension between the substantive message of sustainability in the play and the group’s lived experience as members of an intentional social collective suggest that sustainability at the scale of practice is more realistically and more usefully framed as a procedurally achieved emergent property of complex social practices rather than a definitive collection of expert-derived substantive imperatives. Secondly, the layered multiplicity of performance embodied by group members provides insight that collective expectations, group dynamics, and self-perception all influence embodied social practices of sustainability, 146  which suggests that social practices occur within a complex performative process and therefore the performance lens of analysis is a productive tool for framing sustainability practices. Chapter 4 describes the process and results of a participatory photographic project employed by some members of a community-scale recycling initiative, the UBU cart program. Three binners and three employees of a business that uses the cart program services carried disposable cameras and took photographs of their experiences within the cart program. Interviews were conducted with each participant that largely centred on the images they produced. The images and interview data were analysed together through the lens of performance theory, which yielded three key findings. Firstly, the photographic method afforded participants the opportunity to re-materialize their sustainability practices by taking pictures of activities and settings to share with others, revealing otherwise unknown patterns of their embodied performances in the cart program. Secondly, the photographic method functioned as a kind of reflexive intervention for participants in that they identified and photographed the various material, social, and cultural elements that make up their social practices and identified this process as a learning experience. Thirdly, participation in the photographic project highlighted for participants the social and economic connections that accompany the ecological goals of the cart program. Together these findings suggest that participatory arts-based methods of engagement can potentially increase the reflexive and social capacity of participants, and illuminate the interplay between substantive imperatives of sustainability in social sustainability practices, where procedural sustainability emerges. In Chapter 5, the findings from my theoretical investigation and the two case studies are used to demonstrate the broader implications of procedural sustainability and embodied methods of participation in government consultation. The findings in Chapter 5 suggest that participatory embodied engagement processes, specifically arts-based methods, encourage citizens to productively engage in collaborative reflection and forms of deliberation that are not text-based, which builds the social and reflexive capacity of citizens and potentially also of the governments who sponsor such processes. Participatory reflexive practices can support new governance styles that are more inclusive, adaptive, and representative of society’s values (Healey 2002, 2004, 2006; González and Healey 2005). 147  6.3  Revisiting the research questions  The key findings in this dissertation span across the chapters and integrate the theoretical underpinnings of the dissertation with the empirical approach and processes. Revisiting the research questions posed in Chapter 1 illuminates certain cross-chapter findings and the overall learning outcomes of the dissertation in a praxis approach that reflects the deep integration of theory and methods in my study. (1)  What are the contributions of theories of embodiment and performance to sustainability theory and practice? And  (2)  How can performance theory be harnessed to help understand embodied experiences of sustainability-related practices?  Responding to what I perceive is a significant and worrisome absence of embodied understanding in the majority of sustainability research and media, I propose that incorporating embodied discursive practices into sustainability studies redirects the course of sustainability theory and practice away from the substantive model of top-down, expertdriven imperatives and toward inclusive, dialogic processes that collaboratively define sustainability. Embodiment contributes to sustainability studies in two significant ways: 1) the embodiment paradigm requires a focus on bodily practice; 2) embodiment is an emergent phenomenon that implicates all of the material, social, and cultural dimensions of life. A focus on embodied practice shifts sustainability studies to take seriously the bodily scale of action and interaction where sustainability emerges from and through the activities and relations of people, spaces, and institutions. This supports the procedural model of sustainability but further refines the locus of interest in studies of procedural sustainability to that of social practices (cf. Chapter 2). The second significant contribution of embodiment theory to sustainability theory and practice is a recognition of the emergent nature of embodied praxis which, when applied to sustainability research, calls for an approach that is integrative and interactive. An integrative approach considers the constant interplay of economy, ecology, society, and culture and does not artificially separate these essential components for study purposes. Through the photographic project with members of the cart program, I found that participants comfortably 148  reflected on the integrative nature of their recycling program, moving fluidly in their interviews between the economic basis of the program and the social connections that sustain it, for example (cf. Chapter 4). This suggests that most people have a fairly sophisticated understanding of how the substantive imperatives of sustainability coexist in everyday practices, and therefore integrative approaches that encourage exploration of their interplay, as opposed to simplifying and reducing their interrelatedness, might reveal powerful insights and opportunities for advancing sustainability. An interactive approach incorporates multiple perspectives, desires, and experiences in a flow of information that is multi-vocal and multidirectional (cf. Chapter 5). Otesha tour group members experienced a high level of tension and frustration as they tried to embody the unidirectional message (from expert to public) of appropriate consumer practices for sustainability in their practices outside of the play. Members related that after their tour experience they no longer wanted to ‘dictate’ sustainability behaviours to people, they would instead like to ‘have a conversation’ about sustainability. Therefore although they were not taking an interactive approach in their performance of the play, they came to the realisation that an interactive approach is a more powerful and productive way to engage others and themselves (cf. Chapter 3). When used as a tool for accessing and foregrounding the embodied nature of social practices of sustainability, performance theory frames sustainability practices as occurring within a complex performative process. Performance theory re-centres the body as the first mode of engagement with the world and provides an integrative approach to studying human behaviour that is inherently, profoundly embodied (cf. Chapter 2). This is its major contribution to sustainability theory and practice. Performance theory accounts for multiple, simultaneously encountered elements such as the physical setting of a performance, the copresence of other actors or animals, or the affective register of the performative moment in analyses and representations of being-in-the-world (Dewsbury 2000; Dewsbury et al. 2002; Phelan 1993; Phelan and Lane 1998; Schechner 2002). By looking through the lens of performance theory (aided by the performance typology I derived) at the sustainability practices of my two case study communities, I was able to identify performative elements that, in their assembly, make up a social sustainability practice. For example, in the banana episode of the The Otesha Project (cf. Chapter 3), while the audience, setting, and author of the episode were all obvious, the performance typology helped me to identify which 149  performance elements were a part of the event, including material such as the banana, crop monocultures, transport trucks, her bicycle, and others, and how the performance elements contributed to what message was being constructed and portrayed by Otesha members. For tour member Nicola who purchased the banana, her embodied experience of the episode is a complexly layered assemblage of the fuel needs of an active cyclist, socially wanting to feel accepted by the group, authoring her own script about what it means to be sustainable, and her sense of the larger context of her consumer and consumption actions. Furthermore, the group’s strongly moral reaction to the banana purchase illustrated the performative complexity of the situation as they struggled to define what message about sustainability was collectively being performed. (3)  What, if any, is the relationship between performances of sustainability in a rehearsed theatrical play and performances of sustainability in everyday practices?  In Chapter 3, one of the most significant findings is that the pre-determined message performed in the play “Reason to Dream” did not reflect the more fluid socially and bodily mediated understanding of sustainability that emerged in the group’s activities off stage. In some instances, the group struggled to bring their off stage behaviours in line with the prescriptive behavioural message in the play, for instance during the banana episode. Although “Reason to Dream” was intended to be an open structure that allows for improvisation, and a presentation of the range of pro-environmental consumer options available to people, it is assuredly an example of the information-deficit approach to behaviour change. “Reason to Dream” represents the substantive view of sustainability that seeks to balance ecological, economic, and social imperatives at the global scale and takes an expert-driven approach to inform audiences about how their everyday consumer choices feed into this model of sustainability. Yet while the play endorses the substantive model of sustainability and the information-deficit approach to behaviour change, outside of the play the rational and didactic approach did not correlate with their lived experiences of sustainability as a negotiated, necessarily fluid, and emergent property of collective practices. Telling Nicola that her purchase of the banana was morally wrong led to increased tension, not resolution. The group’s attempt to workshop the banana episode into new material for the 150  play also failed, possibly because of the play’s pre-established emphasis on what is sustainably ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The banana episode occurred very early in the tour, and over time the group of performers seemed to be in transition to a more procedural and emergent model of sustainability. This is made very clear in Leanne’s statement that since participating in the tour she now wants to have a ‘conversation’ about sustainability with people, not to ‘dictate’ what their actions should be. The tension experienced by the group between the substantive framing of sustainability in “Reason to Dream” and their lived experience of sustainability as a socially and bodily mediated emergent practice suggests the need for a very different way to frame the sustainability project. It is very interesting that in the time since my engagement with the 2008 Sunshine Coast performing and cycling tour, The Otesha Project has again created a new theatrical work called “Taking Action”. The new play relies on audience engagement for content that decides the direction of the play. Audiences brainstorm solutions to the environmental dilemmas faced by the central characters, thereby engaging creatively and actively in the production of the play and the resolution of the plot. Their approach in the new play is very similar to Theatre For Living, a theatrical format devised by David Diamond of Vancouver’s Headlines Theatre (Diamond 2007), which in turn builds upon Augusto Boal’s format Theatre of the Oppressed that Boal developed for use in radical popular education movements in Brazil (Boal 2000). While the earlier Otesha play “Reason to Dream” employed the information provision tactic to educate audiences in appropriate consumer practices for sustainability, the new play “Taking Action” takes a cue from Boal’s position that “Pedagogy is transitive, or it isn’t pedagogy” (Boal 2002:266). Essentially, the pedagogical approach should develop from the subject matter to be instructed. In terms of changing practices for sustainability, the pedagogical approach should involve learning through doing, either in embodied terms as practical action, or in decision-making terms as the new play “Taking Action” appears to do by encouraging audiences to devise solutions and make decisions on behalf of the characters. This more recent approach by Otesha offers the benefits of improvisation and engaging in problem-solving to audiences members, but the larger implication of their interactive strategy is that audience members and actors engage together in performative conversation about the options and implications of sustainability-related dilemmas. Although the play may still emphasise the uncritical correctness of certain solutions over others (an expert-driven 151  approach), the interactive style begins to move sustainability in a more procedural direction, demonstrating the advantages of collaborative dialogue and iterative processes. (4)  Can an arts-based method for data generation draw out or capture the embodied experience of sustainability in a useful and meaningful way?  Whatmore (2006) claims there is an ‘experimental imperative’ necessitated by the material turn in cultural geography. Beyond the bounds of cultural geography, studies of embodiment and material engagement more broadly require new methods for generating data that somehow draw out the embodied experience that otherwise tends to elude research because it is “embodied, tacit, intoned, gestured, improvised, coexperienced, covert – and all the more meaningful because of its refusal to be spelled out” (Conquergood 2002:146). In Chapter 3, I did not experiment with the methodological implications of adopting an embodiment and performance lens. Their performances on stage and off stage while participating in a ‘mobile intentional community’ enacted a practice mode of arts-based research by which I mean learning through doing, in particular by moving between the didactic messages of sustainability embodied on stage and the socially and bodily mediated performances of sustainability practices off stage, participants discovered that group dynamics, social expectations, self-perceptions and many other factors influence one’s capacity to embody the substantive imperatives of sustainability. Although I have been candid that my engagement with The Otesha Project was designed primarily to ‘flesh out’ the performance typology, another form of engagement with the group could potentially have been employed to create more space for reflection and experimentation. Adopting a mode of performative reflexivity, for example as demonstrated in Pratt’s innovative research practice (2000), could have provided opportunity for creative participation with the group whereby they more actively engaged with my research goals. However, as discussed above, the group’s attempts to workshop the banana episode did not resolve the interpersonal tension, suggesting that the success of performative reflexivity depends in part on participants’ willingness to engage critically and to go beyond moral imperatives by exploring the thorny issues, the sticking points of transformative change. I took up the experimental imperative of new cultural geography in my interaction with members of the UBU cart program (cf. Chapter 4). The photographic method was initially 152  intended to follow the procedures of Photovoice, meaning after participants take photographs of their experiences, the images are shared among all participants and with key change agents in order to stimulate critical discourse and facilitate social and institutional change (Wang and Burris 1997; Wang et al. 2000; Wang 2003). However, although our project did not see all of the Photovoice steps to completion, the decision to employ a participatory photographic method did position participants as performers in the act of fulfilling their duties within the cart program and in the act of crafting images for the research project. This performative positioning was, I think, essential for the task of investigating the embodied experience of sustainability practices in the context of the cart program. It enabled participants to enact an inquiry mode of arts-based research, meaning they used the active artistic process of creating to reflexively consider their own embodied practices of sustainability. Images of the activities of binners at various pick ups exposed their bodily practices that otherwise would go unrecognized, and in some cases the affective connection provided by the image raised the significance of the bodily practices of cart program members. For example, Figure 4.3 is an image of the deep layer of broken glass and sticky liquid that builds up in the bottom of recycling bins if employees at the pick up business do not take care of the mess. This image paired with DB’s description of the numerous small and deep cuts on his hands, the glass shard in his eye, and the upsetting reality of regularly encountering used needles while binning provides other members of the project, myself the researcher, and you the reader, a more visceral and affective understanding of the embodied risks DB encounters in his daily practices than could otherwise be grasped through interview material alone. The visual cues in their images have the productive capacity to build affective connections between the body of the participant and the body of the viewer. Another example is Figure 4.6 that follows, through a photographic narrative, KP’s bag of recycling from home to work via public transit. In the third image of this figure, the lone white bag of bottles on the subway platform evinces the performative sense of being on display that KP discloses in her interview. The viewer can sense some vulnerability in the bag’s presence (and by proxy in the bag’s carrier, KP) that is manifested through the gaze of the lens representing the gaze of other people on the platform watching this woman with a bag of bottles and a camera. Her routine and iterative performance of participating in the cart 153  program by bringing cans and bottles from home is suddenly, through the performative act of taking a photograph, caught up in questions of visibility, vulnerability, and social performance. Performing as a photographer newly positioned KP as a public figure, which invited her to reflect on other ways that her participation in the cart program is socially mediated and resulted in her identifying the relationship to ‘recycling as a social good’ she shares with her son. In this way, and as described in Chapters 4 and 5, both the products (such as photographic images) and the processes of arts-based research engagement can productively contribute to sustainability discourse, which informs new styles of governance. The products of such methods can functionally be used to communicate issues and promote dialogue, for example in the case of images produced in the cart program that build affective connections between photographers and viewers, and these kinds of processes have the potential to increase the reflexive capacity of participants and governing institutions alike. “The foundation, and essential purpose, of governance is the democratisation and enlivening of the ways in which a society develops a sense of itself and applies that sense to its daily life” (Hawkes 2002:11). Arts-based participation in complex and emergent issues such as sustainability allows the voices of many to be heard, in multiple modes such as visual, musical, and others, that rely less on language skills and formal training in the political system. Participants can instead make their position known, and more importantly can reflexively and critically explore the values and beliefs that underpin their political views, through the use of photography as in the cart program project, or many other possible artistic modes of engagement. This has profound implications for improving access to, and inclusivity in, democratic processes such as those that can engender and support procedural and emergent sustainability. 6.4  Delineations and suggestions for future research  In this section I confront some of the decisions and forces that defined the shape and scope of my research, and in response to these I present some rough ideas of where this research project could lead in future work. I use the term rough to remind the reader that the timespace of research is equally constitutive of the shape and tenor of the research project, as are the unique researcher, study participants, academic department, and academic institution which house the research project. This is all to say that any future work will emerge at the 154  unique confluence of these elements and it is beyond anyone’s ability to predict how a research project will begin, progress, and draw to a close – it has certainly been my experience in this degree that even standing at the helm of the research ship has little influence on its course and even less influence on its final destination. In many ways my willingness to go where the project led me is a strength of my work. Still, some suggestions of what is left undone in the project are reported and possible directions for the next iteration are discussed in this final section. 6.4.1  Case selection  I came to the study of sustainability practices from an interest in embodiment and performing arts. I arrived at the University of British Columbia armed with a host of readings and ideas about embodiment, and an ambition to apply this interest in an area where I felt I could contribute positively to a serious issue facing the global population. Therefore my autobiography explains to a large degree why the embodiment paradigm preceded my choice of theoretical framing for my doctoral research. And while the theoretical framing may have been inevitable as a result of my a priori fixation on embodiment, it carried with it an imperative to seek out and adopt methods that require the active, creative and reflexive input of participants. Specific to the topic of my study, and as a result of my orientation to embodiment, I chose to study the social practices of communities already practicing sustainability. The Otesha Project was a perfect fit because as a group they represented a serious embodied undertaking, the commitment to travel by bicycle across Canada’s rugged terrain, while performing in multiple and complex arrangements of audiences, actors, materials, and locations. I chose the second community of study as a group of people who perform sustainability practices but without an explicit performative goal. The contrast between the intentions of the two groups allowed me to first test the validity of the performance typology to sustainability behaviours in an explicitly performative environment, then secondly test its applicability to sustainability behaviours outside of a performance arena. In future work, a logical next step is to disentangle the other defining characteristics of community practices relevant to this topic, which I see as intentionality and sustainability. For example, it would be very interesting to design a research project that investigates 155  whether or not a community’s practices are intentionally about sustainability and the impact the level of intentionality has on the nature and scale of their collective embodied practices, or a research project could compare a community whose practices are largely unsustainable with a community regularly performing sustainability practices in order to determine whether or not a participatory embodied approach supports critical reflection and collaborative dialogue in all communities of practice. One final point related to the case studies in this dissertation, the issue that some readers may see as a small ‘n’ problem. Having only six interviews in each case study is a very small sample size in relative terms. However I set out to do an exploratory study of the embodied nature of sustainability practices, and by these defining terms, my study focused on the scale of the body. As a lone researcher, the small scale of the participant pool allowed me to connect individually with every participant, building a sort of embodied empathic connection that I felt was necessary for me to re-perform their narratives for my reader. It is also worth noting that in addition to twelve interviews, observational notes were taken in both communities and I engaged in participant observation with the binners in the cart program, and finally two video recordings of the Otesha play and almost one hundred photographs are included in my empirical data. My research has produced some productive results that suggest the strength of this approach and the capacity for embodied research methods to yield powerful insights about how sustainability procedurally emerges from embodied social practice. So while my findings are productive, I accept that at this scale of research they can only be suggestive. Increasing the number of communities involved in future studies, or the number of participants/citizens in each community studied could yield very interesting results, potentially challenging the findings of the research presented here, but potentially supporting my findings and further refining their potential influence on larger institutional forces such as governance. 6.4.2  Marginality of embodiment  In order to research elusive bodily sensations and embodied perspectives, and to overcome “the hegemony of textualism,” Conquergood proposes the performance studies approach that allows for “another way of knowing that is grounded in active, intimate, hands-on participation and personal connection” (2002:146). My empirical studies employed theatrical 156  engagement and photographic creativity to draw in and draw out the performer’s embodied sense of self in the world as it related to their sustainability practices. My original method of choice for the second case study, Photovoice, was designed to give voice to those people who are marginalized or otherwise silenced by mainstream society, but whose perspectives lend crucial insight into how power circulates and what alternatives of social structure exist (Wu et al. 1995). On many levels, I feel that our embodiment has become marginalized from mainstream functioning (cf. Chapter 2), and that a photographic project, or any number of arts-based methods that inspire an active, creative contribution by participants, could equally give voice to the ‘tacit, intoned, gestured’ meaning that resides primarily in the body. This proved to be not as simple as it seemed. In Chapter 4 I concluded that, like in Merchant’s experience (2011), it was common for participants to react as though what I was asking for was not worth studying or discussing. In particular, I found it very difficult to convince the employees of the pick up business to discuss their embodied reality. Furthermore, although I worked diligently to secure more than five interviews with Otesha tour group members, multiple phone messages and emails to the outstanding members were not returned. There are many possible explanations for their reluctance or inability to participate in a phone interview scheduled at their convenience, but I am tempted to extrapolate from interviews with other tour members who expressed confusion and even some suspicion about what I was researching, and thus what I wanted from them. It is possible that my topic of study, the embodied nature of sustainability practices, was just confusing enough to turn them off from an interview. There are some possible resolutions to the problems of embodiment being a marginalized phenomenon, perceived as unworthy of study, and difficult to explain to participants. Merchant (2011) and Latham (2003), for example, are both relatively successful in evoking the embodied perspectives of their research subjects, and they achieved this through their methodological choices. In her attempt to collect and analyze pre-reflective embodied ‘data’ of scuba divers developing environmental skills, Merchant filmed scuba divers with an underwater video camera, then played the video back for the diver in an interview setting and recorded the interviewees’ observations and bodily animations while watching the video. Latham, for his part, asked his subjects to record their movements and experiences around 157  Auckland’s urban centre with cameras and a written diary so that he might develop a better understanding of their practical, embodied engagements with urban social and geographic life. Both authors report significant results in terms of drawing out the subtle, pre-reflective moments of engagement that exemplify visceral, lived experience. In future research, more alternative methods, and the assembly of multiple methods as in Latham’s study, should be explored as options for engaging participants in the task of somehow conveying their embodied experiences to the researcher. 6.4.3  Demands of academic production  The demands of academic production are often at odds with the temporal scale of community-driven, participatory work. Particularly in cases where access must be granted before work can begin, and the researcher with integrity takes the time to get know the community and to find out what aspect of their community life they would like to study, if any. In both case studies, I was prepared to hurry into their relative communities and get my teeth sunk into a research project with their participation. In both communities this was not to be the case. While exploring the possibility of working with The Otesha Project, I was stalled by tour organizers who wanted to protect the interests of their tour groups by allowing them time over the summer to come together as a group, become comfortable with the demands of the tour (including routinely performing on stage to strangers), and come to a consensus on whether or not they would like to work with me. This was a completely appropriate course of action on their part, and although I was somewhat frustrated by the ever-expanding time period, I was willing to wait until the group actually wanted to work with me. After finally meeting with them over two days at the very end of their tour and filming “Reason to Dream”, I was informed they did not want to participate in interviews at that time and would only participate by phone in the coming months from their respective homes across the continent. A similar, but even more extended story occurred in my interaction with the UBU cart program members. I gained access very slowly, over the course of multiple visits and conversations with the director of UBC’s Learning Exchange, and with United We Can founder Ken Lyotier, and finally over many months of generally hanging around the bottle depot when I was invited and going on pick ups with MB when he offered to bring me along, 158  the group began to trust me. Although I enjoyed this period of getting to know some of the people involved with the bottle depot and the cart project, I began to lose hope that they would ever be interested in doing a research project together. I began discussions with other communities, for example Ethical Bean Coffee, in case my time spent in the Downtown Eastside did not result in a research project suitable as a case study for my dissertation. Eventually, of course, it did, and we proceeded to set up the photographic project. Interviews after the photographic project were spread out over three months as each binner and pick up business employee was equally difficult to pin down to a time and place. As I describe in Chapter 4, the 2010 Olympics arrived in Vancouver only weeks after the one-on-one interviews were completed, and the public forum element of the project we had planned for did not transpire. Participants lost interest, and eventually I, too, tired of pursuing an event in which there did not seem to be shared interest. Additionally I was becoming concerned with the slow rate of progress of my doctoral work, and I had other non-dissertation related tasks to complete. As Robinson says, “The results [of issue-driven interdisciplinary work] are often a somewhat uneasy compromise between academic and real world outcomes and products” (2008:75). Although he is writing here about transacademic projects that must meet the needs of community and/or industry partners as well as satisfy the requirements of academic work, Robinson’s point that issue-driven research that integrates the concerns, strengths, and weaknesses of non-academic partners can result in outcomes that compromise the desires of all parties. In the case of my empirical research, the needs of the cart program binners to take advantage of Olympic and post-Olympic municipal contracts compromised my ability to see the Photovoice method through to completion. On the other hand, my need to satisfy the requirements of my degree and other academic-related responsibilities compromised their ability to harness our project further for lobbying purposes. Resolution to this issue of the competing needs of non-academic partners in participatory research is slowly having an effect through the institutionalization of issue-driven research involving communities and other non-academic groups. Robinson (2008) identifies four areas of academic institutions in which interdisciplinarity can be better accommodated. They include concerns within the academic world that interdisciplinary studies raise issues of what are acceptable academic standards, how to assess the quality of such work, and how is the work best evaluated; interdisciplinary studies often raise questions about academic freedom 159  and intellectual property rights when transacademic research is developed in partnership with non-academics; the expanded time commitment of participatory interdisciplinary research is not well addressed in processes of promotion and tenure (and I would add graduate study); the products of transacademic interdisciplinary and participatory research take on many forms beyond the conventional academic publication, a fact that is rarely recognized by academic institutions. 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