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This thesis is about listening to the “unacknowledged 'stories' present in all objects that surround us” (Knoespel, 1991, p. 109). It is about listening to the voices of the garden – the academics, children, teachers, parents – and “Hey! Don’t forget about rocks!” (as well as other non-human and more-than-human beings). It is about embracing these voices and the conversations that might crop up between them, however discomforting, encouraging, self-questioning, and world-collapsing they may be. Through cacophonic back-and-forths between these voices, I come across an accidental method/ology (Cole, 2017) for researching school gardens. One that embraces, that becomes through, Aaccidental stumblings and stutterings, unexpected encounters with odd characters, tinkering here and playing there, these are the onto-epistemological tendencies of such a method/ology. And in being so, it becomes a way of rejecting academic preferences for anthropocentric and Eurowestern understandings (Martusewicz, Edmunson & Lupinacci, 2011). A methodology that is concerned not with how we as humans can benefit from the garden but how we are part of it, inextricably – if not accidentally – entangled within a messy “web of community obligations” (Apffel-Marglin, 2011, p. 37). A methodology that honours gardening – and working in a school garden – as co-journeying alongside our human, non-human, and more-than-human companions. What might such a co-journeying look, smell, taste, feel, sound like? What knowledges might it uncover? What conversations might we stumble upon? I present here a conceptual work; a “narrative experiment” (Gough, 2010). The characters are awkward and contentious – informed by narrative theory, agential realism, Indigenous knowledge systems, ecocriticism, poststructuralism, posthumanism. The gathering place is the garden, both the physical garden that we tend to with our hands and hearts and the garden within, our “ecology of mind” (Bateson, 1987), wherein we sow and harvest our fruits of knowledge. The medium is a story, a children’s story. A fun one, an imaginative one. And the plot is an exciting co-journeying, from the well-mapped above-ground garden into the unfamiliar below-ground garden. And with such a shift in positioning comes a shift in optics, to reconfigure those that we research not as researched-objects but as our co-researchers.
Ecojustice theory, as described by Martusewicz, Emundson, & Lupinacci (2011), consists of three threads: understanding the interdependence of local and global ecosystems, deep cultural analysis of Western thinking and in situ systems, and “need to restore the cultural and environmental commons” (p. 20). Working with youth (15-18 years) at the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL), an environmental and social justice leadership program, this research project focuses on how youth respond to and share ecojustice learnings beyond the classroom setting, and how it might inform ecojustice pedagogy. Through journal reflections, Forum Theatre (Boal, 2002), and narrative inquiry, this thesis explores methods youth use for sharing their understandings of ecojustice with their families, friends and communities. Synthesis/analysis of data includes a “dataplay” (O’Riley, 2003) where participants’ “data” is presented as conversations in an interactive script and responded to by the participants. This changes the power relations between actor and observer as well as scripted and spontaneous intervention within the research process. The youth participants articulated a desire to overcome apathy among some of their peers, together with a need to develop strategies for having (at times) difficult conversations about social justice and ecological justice concerns around the world. They expressed feelings of guilt and fear, together with a strong desire to create change when addressing systemic global issues like climate change and out of control consumerism. Storytelling, other creative engagements with the issues being dealt with, and personal conversations were offered as possible pedagogic solutions. The students also explored the emotional effects of working with difficult issues. The youth’s responses call on PSYL educators to address ecojustice issues in their teaching, as well as possibilities for actions that the youth can implement in their local communities.
No abstract available.