Building watershed narratives: two case studies of urban streams in Seattle, Washington
Yocom, Kenneth (Kenneth Peter), 1973-
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My research responds to calls from both practitioners and theorists to broaden the approaches for identifying and addressing the problems inherent within urban streams and rivers by utilizing a narrative-based, case study approach for understanding the historical conditions of a watershed and for examining the values and perceptions that participants bring to the restoration process. Incorporating contemporary methods in spatial analysis, historical research, and participant interviews I have developed a model for restoration research that creates a chronotope for disentangling the multiple histories entwined in the physical, social, political and economic landscape of the contemporary urban environment. I use this model to develop case history narratives of two urban watersheds in Seattle, Washington that have recently been the focus of urban stream restoration practices. Although limited in scope, the problems, issues, and themes that emerge from these narratives are illustrative of the complex and often contentious processes that comprise any attempt to restore urban streams. The findings of this research highlight the need for urban stream restoration to be understood as a process more than from a project-based perspective. My research shows that this process can be more effective if it is scoped from a watershed perspective, historically and spatially grounded, clearly defined yet adaptive to changing social, political, and economic conditions, and inclusive of educational and participatory goals.
- Built environment