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Sunday, March 29 • 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Session 6 Paper Stream 1: Urban Soundscapes and Green Infrastructures

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Session 6 Paper Stream 1: Urban Soundscapes and Green Infrastructures

Eric Leonardson: "Our Sonic Playground: A Model for Active Engagement in Urban Soundscape Awareness"
Our Sonic Playground is the name of a free, public event led by the author at the invitation of the Education Department at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Its aim was to actively engage the public in four ways, to “play, watch, share, and listen.” In this paper, the author offers the experience as a model, template, or "recipe" for future efforts that engage soundscape awareness in urban, built-environments. The role of collaboration, partnerships, and cultural institutions connected to the city’s creative, participatory culture of DIY, hacktivism, grassroots community organizing, theory and practice is emphasized, including the cross-fertilization of experimental, improvised music, audio arts, acoustic ecology and new media arts in Chicago. 

Over the past six years, volunteer members of the World Listening Project and Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology—as critical citizens, students, teachers, artists, scholars, public service workers—have led sound walks, "ear cleaning" and instrument building workshops, and lectures addressing all aspects of the sound environment. This experience informed and established a reputable history for enabling Our Sonic Playground. This suggested the event could serve as a model for actively engaging the public in soundscape awareness, an essential but often ignored aspect of life in urban and other environments. This model is potentially useful for much-needed future engagements. It serves as a recipe or set of practical suggestions as it points to broader concerns with environmental change, urbanism, and sense of place, public space, and the social and aesthetic role of technology. Led by faculty and students at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the city's large creative community shows how art and technology can reach out of the academy and into daily lives of people by effecting the acoustic identities of cities in positive and socially meaningful ways. 

Paul Coseo: "Spillover--The Potential for Public Green Infrastructure Programs to Enhance Private Environmental Actions: A Case Study of Chicago's Green Alley Program"
City officials are implementing environmental adaptation programs to tackle the impacts of climate change. Evaluation of these programs requires the assessment of both the environmental and social outcomes. Climate change will irreversibly alter the places we call home. Through climate change we are disrupting the historic balance between human and natural systems and, in the process, creating a new paradigm of extreme weather with associated societal responses to address these changes. To address these unprecedented changes, many city officials are increasing the compactness of existing settlement patterns to reduce greenhouse gases, promote low-carbon settlement patterns, and adapt to changing regional climates. Yet, increasing compactness usually results in more impervious surfaces (buildings and pavement), which produce a host of environmental problems that exacerbate climate change impacts. Excess amounts of buildings and pavement result in decreased biodiversity, increased stormwater flooding, and more intense urban heat islands. To complicate matters, adaptation programs may conflict with other neighborhood priorities. This conflict challenges city officials to struggle with trade-offs between the best science and other important local issues such as calls for equity, affordable housing, and economic development. Evaluation of environmental as well as social components of adaptation programs is critical to understanding if these strategies are resulting in desirable environmental and societal outcomes. I examine both environmental and social data to evaluate the Green Alley Program (GAP) in Chicago to understand the environmental and societal outcomes of the program. The Chicago Department of Transportation is using the GAP to help Chicagoans adapt to hotter summers and increased torrential downpours associated with climate change. The program uses highly reflective and porous pavements to reduce stormwater run-off and to reduce the urban heat island effect. In the summer of 2010 I collected weather data, along with residential survey and interview data, in six Chicago neighborhoods to understand how the program impacted residents’ personal environmental actions. I used a case-control research design by pairing one green or case alley with one control alley in each of the six neighborhoods. This research helps contribute to our understanding of how environmental programs impact both environmental and social outcomes.

Andrea Williams: "'Soundwalking': A Methodology for Drawing Attention to Aspects of NY Waterways and its Stewardship" 
Citizens and tourists in New York State enjoy the beauty of its fresh water resources, but when these bodies of water become less pristine through pollution, these areas become less desirable, and therefore it is important to consider ways to increase perceptions of ownership and stewardship to protect these precious natural resources. My research will focus on one methodology, termed “soundwalking”, a walk based on listening to different features of a specific environment. Soundwalks used in this research will be based on listening techniques, exercises, and methods of musical composition that were developed through the study of acoustic ecology. Acoustic ecology is the study of the relationship between living beings and their sonic environment. During a soundwalk, one starts to focus on listening instead of seeing and getting oneself from Point A to Point B, and we begin to sense more of what is directly around us. We even feel our other senses engage more intensely, such as touch and smell, and it becomes easier to embody another being or a certain area. When we embody a certain area of the environment, we begin to understand its needs more. We become better caretakers of our environment. 

I am working with The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY on a Troy Waterways Soundwalk. I am also working with the Fund for Lake George on a Lake George Soundwalk at Lake George, NY. The soundwalks are comprised of walking routes of varying lengths that are mapped out in advance to include points of interest to attract the walkers’ attention and serve as an informal cue for them to listen to the sound features. The soundwalks include audio material obtained through interviews with locals and water experts on topics relating to their connection to the waterways. Participants of the soundwalks also fill out a questionnaire on their connections to the waterways; this information is the basis of my findings. (Interviewees voluntarily sign a consent form to allow use of their audio recording and photo for public use that has been approved by the IRB.)  Questionnaires include asking participants to describe their soundwalk experience. Also participants are asked if they feel more connected to the environment around them. If so, how?


Paul Coseo

Dr. Coseo examines how the design of cities impact natural processes and social communities. He approaches research, teaching, and practice with a humble appreciation for how our urban designs impact the sustainability of natural and social environments. Recently, he investigated... Read More →

Eric Leonardson

Eric Leonardson is a Chicago-based audio artist, co-founder and Executive Director of the World Listening Project, founder and co-chair of the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, and President of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. Leonardson is Adjunct Associate Professor at... Read More →

Andrea Williams

Sound artist, researcher, and composer, Andrea Williams utilizes site-specific elements and perceptual cues to reveal the unseen connections between people and their environment. Her compositions make use of field recordings, instruments, computer technologies and the sound of the... Read More →

Sunday March 29, 2015 3:30pm - 5:00pm MST
Art 220 900 S. Forest Mall Tempe, AZ 85281

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