Green Infrastructure I: Conceptual Tensions & Foundations

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: HDGC & HRD Symposium: Socio-ecological Justice in Hazards Adaptation
Sponsor Groups: Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 6
Organizers: Marissa Matsler, Zbigniew Grabowski
Chairs: Marissa Matsler


Planners, engineers, community groups, and non-profits in cities around the world increasingly deploy the concept of green infrastructure. However, green infrastructure’s mutability has implicated it in a number of contradictory social programs and impacts: from reducing crime, addressing environmental injustice, and cost effectively providing infrastructural services such as flood mitigation and stormwater management, to accelerating gentrification and further entrenching injustices of uneven development.

As an emergent concept in urban planning, engineering, ecology, and law, green infrastructure represents an interdisciplinary object claimed by many differing definitions and physical forms. Within this milieu, practitioners and academics alike integrate ‘nature’ into various forms of ‘infrastructure,’ deeply embedding green infrastructure within human geography discussions regarding the human-nature divide (Wachsmuth 2012; Gabriel 2014), vital materiality (Bennett 2010), and urban political ecology generally (Gandy 2002; Monstadt 2009; Escobar 1996; Finewood et al. 2019), as well as in physical and interdisciplinary geography discussions regarding climate change, geomorphology, and hydrology, hazards, and environmental justice (Schifman et al. 2017; O’Donnell et al. 2019; McPhillips and Matsler 2018; Thorne et al. 2018; Berland et al. 2015).

This series of three sessions explores the various facets of green infrastructure - where they connect and where they are disconnected - to better understand the impact of this concept on urban form and politics. We highlight researchers grappling with concepts of equity and resilience for humans and non-humans in relation to urban green infrastructure, as well as the uneven geographies of risk and value that green infrastructure programs often explicitly seek to address. Both empirical and theoretical papers will be presented that examine the multi-faceted geographies of green infrastructure.

We plan to structure these three linked sessions to encourage dialogue between presenters by shortening presentation time to brief take-aways and expanding Q&A to a roundtable discussion among all presenters.

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Finewood, Michael H., A. Marissa Matsler, and Joshua Zivkovich. 2019. “Green Infrastructure and the Hidden Politics of Urban Stormwater Governance in a Postindustrial City.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers , March, 1–17. .

Gabriel, Nate. 2014. “Urban Political Ecology: Environmental Imaginary, Governance, and the Non-Human: UPE: Imaginary, Governance, and the Non-Human.” Geography Compass 8 (1): 38–48. .

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McPhillips, Lauren E., and A. Marissa Matsler. 2018. “Temporal Evolution of Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategies in Three US Cities.” Frontiers in Built Environment 4 (May). .

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Schifman, L.A., D.L. Herrmann, W.D. Shuster, A. Ossola, A. Garmestani, and M.E. Hopton. 2017. “Situating Green Infrastructure in Context: A Framework for Adaptive Socio-Hydrology in Cities.” Water Resources Research , October. .
Thorne, C.R., E.C. Lawson, C. Ozawa, S.L. Hamlin, and L.A. Smith. 2018. “Overcoming Uncertainty and Barriers to Adoption of Blue-Green Infrastructure for Urban Flood Risk Management: Uncertainties and Barriers to Adoption of BGI.” Journal of Flood Risk Management 11
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Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Marissa Matsler University of Maryland 5 8:00 AM
Presenter Joshua Lewis*, Tulane University, Green Infrastructure and Socioecological Contradiction in Louisiana 8 8:05 AM
Presenter Clair Cooper*, Durham University, Relationship between Green Infrastructure, Nature-based Solutions, Social and Health Inequality in European cities. 8 8:13 AM
Presenter Lechuan Huang*, Virginia Tech, Theodore Lim*, Virginia Tech, Trends in disciplinary research frameworks for spatial green stormwater infrastructure 8 8:21 AM
Presenter Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman*, University of Maryland, Andrea Gerlak, University of Arizona, Lena Berger, University of Arizona, David Dziubanski, University of Arizona, Marissa Matsler, University of Maryland, Green infrastructure and stormwater harvesting to meet sustainable water use in semi-arid cities: barriers, bridges, goals, and uses for water 8 8:29 AM
Discussant Joshua Lewis Tulane University 9 8:37 AM
Discussant Clair Cooper Durham University 9 8:46 AM
Discussant Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman University of Maryland 9 8:55 AM
Discussant Lechuan Huang Virginia Tech 9 9:04 AM

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