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The Social Sciences Take on Lot M!

Guest Blogger: Carly Stephens 

Since its inception, Parking to Paradise has been a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration. Many readers are familiar with the Ancaster Creek riparian buffer and restoration work along the Northwest border of the parking lot. Interested parties across many faculties and disciplines have worked together to restore this ecosystem and raise awareness about the impacts urbanization on the natural environment. Nurtured by the time, commitment and hard work donated by volunteers and students, the land has grown into a site of green infrastructure, ecosystem restoration, and sustainable development. Read about Reyna Matties' Master’s work on retrofitting storm water management systems on the lot in the December 7, 2015 post below. Now, it’s the social sciences turn to learn where green infrastructure developments - as with the case of Lot M - fits into our social world.
Students build turtle habitat on buffer

My research involves exploring the various roles that green space plays in our urban social world.  I am using a symbolic interactionist approach, which analyzes the different meanings individuals make about their self, their peers, and their surroundings. I am looking at what green space means to those who use it, in contrast to those who use the parking lot. Understanding these social processes leaves implications for how individuals make sense of their world, and the relationship green space in an urban context has for individual and social functioning.
INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING? 
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Parking to Paradise on lot M is unique as it unites environmental stewardship with social activism to become a socio-environmental intervention. Thus, my research also explores the various ways and reasons one becomes an activist, the effectiveness of the intervention through the perceptions of its stakeholders, and the socio-structural contexts that shape these processes. Ultimately, I hope to lend social psychological insight to help raise awareness and inspire future projects through critical discussion.
If you or someone you know regularly parks in Lot M, or has volunteered with Reyna and Parking to Paradise, I am interested in briefly interviewing you to learn more about your experiences. All interview participants will receive $5 to My Dog Joe!
If you have questions about the research or are interested in participating, feel free to contact me at stephecr@mcmaster.ca.

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