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We opened this volume with sobering stories of the dire global challenges before us. Indeed, one would not be hard pressed to find stories of the urgency of our various environmental and social crises. While we wrote this book, the COVID-19 pandemic raged, towns in the Arctic reached unprecedented temperatures, countless hectares of forests fell while fossil fuels continued to be violently extracted from the earth, and Black, Indigenous and people of colour continued to be exploited and oppressed. Yet, despite all this, or rather because of it, we wish to begin our conclusion with hope and determination. Drawing on Solnit (2016), we believe that there is a spaciousness in the uncertainties posed by the challenges before us in that they offer new possibilities for being, thinking and acting – for renewal and purposeful redirection in our trajectory – and it is through a reawakened awareness of our rich and dynamic relationships to place that we can find a better way forward.
It is now well established that humans are the most powerful influence on the environment. The scale, pace and intensity of human activity is fundamentally altering earth’s climate system (IPCC, 2014) and driving global biodiversity and ecosystem decline (IPBES, 2019). Simultaneously, new forms and patterns of mobility are emerging and accelerating in a world driven by globalised market forces, new technologies, media transformations and related cultural trends of late modernity (Stokols, 2018; Boccagni, 2017; Cresswell, 1996). Indeed, during the final stages of preparing this volume we are experiencing a global pandemic of COVID-19 that is reshaping society – from the way we travel to how we relate to one another (see the Preface). While many of the global challenges addressed in this volume are not new, they are accelerating to such a degree that they are challenging our sense of ‘ontological security’ in the world, a concept that has been useful in international relations research, and most recently climate change research, to articulate relationships between identity and security (Farbotko, 2019; Kinnvall, 2004). Our expectations for the stability and continuity of our habitats and lifestyles are increasingly being challenged.
We unpack the role of sense of place in relation to urban experimentation. We conceptualise urban experimentation as a governance approach to foster and activate innovation capacities of communities and places for climate adaptation and institutional trialling of novel approaches. We focus on an urban living laboratory (ULL) as one specific type of urban experiment that has received increasing attention in European cities recently, and use experimentation in ULL as an example to reconsider a dynamic and pluralistic understanding of place. We find that our case study, BlueCity Lab in Rotterdam, NL provides a space where new place-related narratives of change, novel practices and relations emerge, while being embedded within wider, translocal networks of practice. Backed by these insights, we contend that a translocal, pluralised and dynamic concept of place promises to be a valuable lens in order to understand the impacts, manifestations and appropriate responses to global challenges in everyday life.
Global challenges ranging from climate change and ecological regime shifts to refugee crises and post-national territorial claims are rapidly moving ecosystem thresholds and altering the social fabric of societies worldwide. This book addresses the vital question of how to navigate the contested forces of stability and change in a world shaped by multiple interconnected global challenges. It proposes that senses of place is a vital concept for supporting individual and social processes for navigating these contested forces and encourages scholars to rethink how to theorise and conceptualise changes in senses of place in the face of global challenges. It also makes the case that our concepts of sense of place need to be revisited, given that our experiences of place are changing. This book is essential reading for those seeking a new understanding of the multiple and shifting experiences of place.
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