Imaginative Forms Built through Citizen Engagement

Article by Deborah Schrader & Lorelei L. Hanson, International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences - June 2015

In this paper we explore the potential of citizen imaginings associated with municipal food policy development to be utilized as building blocks towards the transformation to a more sustainable food system. We explore this potential through a case study of the development of “fresh, Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agricultural Strategy.” We start from a position advanced by Wendy Mendes (2008, 945) that in making and remaking the city, governmental institutions need to demonstrate greater flexibility and openness in their governance arrangements and institutional capacity, as well as “in how the city’s imaginative form is reshaped and mobilized.” We employ an ethics of care as an analytical frame in reading through in-depth interviews with citizens involved in the development of “fresh,” focusing on their descriptions of sustainability and how to build a sustainable food system in Edmonton. Drawing attention to the ethics of care embedded in these imaginative constructions, we discuss how they can act as entry points into a social and economic transformation process.