Understanding the role of connections between people and place at CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) in wellbeing.

2017-02-09T05:13:49Z (GMT) by Bailey, Aisling Alana
My thesis presents an ethnographic account of experiences of connection between people and place at the community environment park CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies), located within the urban/industrial fringe of Melbourne. Consideration is paid to the transference of the dualistic nature/culture conceptualisation upon experiences between people and place and how this impacts the wellbeing of people and place. The central questions posed are to what extent the dualistic conceptualisation is responsible for environmental degradation and dissatisfaction with an urban economic rationalist shaped culture with reference to the work of Plumwood (2002), and in response to this, whether a holistic conceptualisation has the capacity to offer experiences between people and place which enhance wellbeing with reference to the work of Bateson (1979), Merleau-Ponty (2006) and Leopold (1966). Paying attention to the two central themes of community and environment at CERES, I assess their historical discourses in relation to their current interpretations present amongst people involved with CERES with reference to the work of Weber (2009), Sworder (1995) and Delanty (2003), their role in generating interest and relationships between people and place, and focus upon the impact of dualistic and holistic conceptualisations in CERES’ efforts of bringing them together. Through fieldwork I examine my own and others personal understandings and experiences of disconnection, connection and wellbeing, through critiques of urban living, desires for community, desires for a sense of place and desires for meaning expressed at CERES. These personal understandings and experiences are explored with reference to the role of empiricism in dualistic understandings, the phenomenology of experience reflective of holistic understandings and the nature of wellbeing. My expectation is that a place such as CERES provides opportunities and inspiration for people to develop meaningful connections with place which can offer reciprocal wellbeing for people and place. My research significantly contributes to a better understanding of how environmentalist efforts not only benefit the wellbeing of the environment, but also the wellbeing of people.