Hyperlocal sustainabilities: the effects of social media on community based visual research

Authors: Bethany Cutts*, North Carolina State University, Kaitlyn Hornik, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Andrew J Greenlee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Caitie Nigrelli, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Planning Geography
Keywords: environmental justice, youtube, social media, just sustainability, video, interview; participation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA, storytelling network, digital society
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Barriers to producing and distributing video have never been lower. Consequently, there is new potential to improve participation in and dissemination of research through visual methods.  Within the larger family of community based participatory research methods, the Community Voice Method (CVM) has proven to be an inclusive and community-focused form of public participation. However, it originated before the wide availability of interactive web 2.0 technologies. This paper examines the impact of the hyperlocal public sphere on debate and engagement with CVM. We highlight the tensions and opportunities that arose during a project focused on urban waterway remediation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA). Early stages of research revealed a need to highlight the role of racial disparities and segregation over the initial rationale for our research - access to environmental amenities. At the same time, civil unrest in Milwaukee raised new concerns about the implications of sharing community-based video products through social media platforms. Analyzing concern for the hyperlocal response through a just sustainability lens uncovered the implicitly white lenses of environmental objectives, and conflicts around pursuing CVM as a form of academic research. Findings suggest a need to develop best practices in order to enhance the impact of visual research practices without contributing to social and environmental injustices through ‘hyperlocal’ impacts.

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