Research / PhD Landscape Architecture

This doctoral research project seeks to identify practical tools to aid communities to be more inclusive of gender and sexual minority groups as they restructure local economies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Integrating participatory methods, this project uses a combination of oral interviews, oral history interviews, and DIY community archiving to collaboratively explore environmentally sustainable community building practices amongst case studies of feminist/queer groups. ‘Commons’ economies have been suggested to offer promising responses to inequality and climate change. Commons economies support resources, both cultural and natural, to be co-managed by the individuals within a group.

However, issues surrounding social exclusion within commons landscapes have historically been raised by Nobel Laureate, Elinor Ostrom. ‘Commoning’ rather describes the active ‘doing’ of the commons – of maintaining relationships with shared understandings of value, needs and production. Thus, understanding the commoning process itself is key to better sharing responsibilities, resources, and governance within climate change adaptation.

To research LGBTQ+ inclusive practices of commoning landscapes – where landscapes are understood as both natural and cultural forms – this project draws upon ‘queer ecology’. Queer ecology combines queer theory and environmental studies to challenge heteronormativity within environmentalism. In bridging these two fields of study, this project investigates how queer ecology transforms understandings and approaches to commoning. To answer this, this project examines how contemporary queer ‘commoning’ groups have encouraged sustainable and inclusive commoning of landscapes in practice. Through a combination of oral interviews and oral history interviews, this research explores personal journeys of environmental community-building amongst case study LGBT+ inclusive groups. In accordance with feminist and de-colonial methods, the results of this research will be returned to the communities, with consenting interviews later collaboratively turned into a digital archive to share insights into LGBT+ inclusive ‘commoning’ practices beyond the communities themselves. The findings will identify tools for groups wishing to exist not solely on cultural islands, but to transgress and hybridize the commons.