The Old West End Garden-Park

With the support of the Ball Brothers Foundation, I am working with a group of Ball State students from the Departments of Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, and Anthropology to help develop a new park in the Old West End of Muncie. The project, which began last fall, is a collaboration with the Old West End Neighborhood Association. Students recently completed the final site design and we are the initial phase of the project’s implementation. We will be hosting a work day at the site (on the corner of Main and Cherry Streets) on April 25th. Please contact me if you are interested in getting involved in the project.11146258_10204995118052251_2975285357397323728_n

Social and Environmental Factors Shaping Agrobiodiversity Management in Rural Amazonia

My latest research article was just published online with the journal Human Ecology. Here is the abstract:

Smallholder farmers play a critical role in the maintenance of global agrobiodiversity. However, the social and environmental factors that shape agrobiodiversity and its management in rural smallholder communities are still debated among scholars. This study examines variation in the diversity of useful plant species (i.e., species richness) managed by households located in three distinct environments along the Lower Madeira River in the Central Brazilian Amazon: Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE), upland Oxisols (OX), and floodplain soils (FP). Among the 106 households studied, those located on ADE managed a significantly higher number of useful species than those on floodplain soils but not than those on Oxisols. A generalized linear mixed effects model indicates that the age of the household head, number of household members and adults, and area of land under cultivation are statistically significant factors that influence species richness across all households. Ethnographic data are employed to contextualize these findings and discuss other influences on agrobiodiversity management in rural Amazonian communities, including regional historical ecology and the life histories of individual farmers.

Forests and Favelas

In a few weeks, I’ll be attending the meeting of the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology in Oaxaca, Mexico. The paper I’ll be presenting is titled “Forests and Favelas: Situating Urban Amazonia in the Anthropology of Brazil.” Here’s a brief synopsis:

For much of its recent history, anthropology has been concerned with two Brazils. The first has revolved around indigenous peoples of Amazonia and increasingly, the tensions between conservation and development of Amazonian forests. The second has centered on urban poor, especially those living in the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro and other large metropolitan areas. In many ways, these two centers of focus – forests and favelas – have come to represent “gatekeeping concepts” in the anthropology of Brazil, largely to the exclusion of other socio-cultural concerns and contexts. This paper explores an under-examined Brazil that lies in the overlapping spaces of forests and favelas: the urban Amazon. Drawing for a decade of research in the region, this paper highlights how broader processes and problems associated with urbanization in Brazil emerge in distinctive ways within Manaus, the largest city of the Amazon basin.

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Ball State Graduate School Promotes the HUB Community Garden

Faith Kellermeyer at the Ball State Graduate School recently interviewed me to discuss my involvement with the HUB Community Garden. In this piece, she highlights the origin of the project, its significance to the community, and how it might help to spur future projects, including those for in-coming graduate students. Right now, a group of students from the departments of Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, and Anthropology are all working together to design a new garden-park in collaboration with the Old West End Neighborhood Association. We are hoping to get the project off the ground this spring and implement the site design by this summer. If you’re interested in getting involved, please feel free to contact me.

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2014 Hottest Year on Record

099cff123553ab6feae2ba1507a1d2baThe evidence on global climate change continues to mount. Both NASA and NOAA have declared 2014 the hottest year in the 134 years of record keeping in the United States. These agencies point out that while individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are showing that greenhouse gas release from anthropogenic activities are driving global climate change.