Practicing Place-Based Responsibility
We inhabit a moment characterized by the emergence of multiple, entangled crises: destruction of natural ecosystems, growing inequality, and the rise of toxic ideologies across the globe and within our communities in Canada. Urgent steps are needed to slow and cease ecologically, culturally and socially destructive systems and redistribute power to those with place-based knowledge and sensitivity to contextual conditions.
Place-Based Responsibility enacts this practice by coalescing knowledge holders with long histories of participation in this work – those living and working in ways that express care for place: Indigenous artists and ethno-botanists; community organizers, activists and social workers; gardeners and waste remediators; front-line workers in housing and housing advocacy; advocates for cultural labour; and artists engaged with land and material. Together, we ask what are our responsibilities, reciprocities and commitments to land? How can we as individuals and also collectively take up the responsibility of contributing to the places where we are? What can each of us offer? Within Emily Carr University, a collective of faculty, students, and community members have begun to enact these guiding questions as a series of public roundtable discussions, a place-based collective of graduate students, and an undergraduate course “Practicing Neighbourly Responsibility.” This paper reflects on these actions, and imagines future iterations of this work.
place-based; sustainability; pluriversal; community-based; relationality
Laura Kozak (BFA, MASArch) is a design researcher and community organizer. Since 2005 she has built partnerships and collaborated on projects with local and international artists, designers and community organizations. A core interest in relationality and place-based, collaborative design informs her research and teaching practice. She serves on the Board of Directors at 221A Artist Run Centre Society and teaches in the Jake Kerr Faculty of Graduate Studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She is a Research Associate of the Shumka Centre and DESIS Lab.
Jean Chisholm (BA, BDes, MDes) is a designer, researcher, and educator. Her research explores place-based design practices and community collaborations that work towards relational, ecological and equitable ways of living, and has most recently been published through PDC 2020: Participation(s) Otherwise. She has experience as a graphic designer and art director, designing and overseeing production for printed, spatial, and digital touch points. Jean currently teaches at Emily Carr University.