Event Title

Identifying Barriers to Green Infrastructure in Puget Sound Municipalities: An Ethnographic Approach

Presentation Abstract

Historically ethnographic research took anthropologists to the remote corners of the world to study little known indigenous cultures. Ethnographic methods developed in those disparate contexts can be honed and streamlined for rapid assessments of applied problems in complex cultures in contemporary settings. Mixed methods of participant observation, document analysis, interviews, focus groups, and an online survey have yielded intriguing insights into barriers faced by municipal employees as they implement green infrastructure in the Puget Sound region. Maintenance, especially when public agencies need to ensure that it is occurring on private property, appears as the most persistent barrier. Uncertainties in cost and performance increase risk and liability and drive up project costs, posing another widely recognized barrier. The challenge of retrofitting legacy infrastructure appears persistently across all methods of analysis. Communication across municipal divisions, especially those dividing public works from planning and community development, can be challenging for many municipalities. Potential solutions also emerged from the analysis. Reduction of risk and uncertainty with cost, benefit, and performance analyses is widely desired. Making developers responsible for environmental damage through better enforcement has broad appeal. Municipal employees would like better internal and external communication. Grants and other financial assistance for retrofitting legacy infrastructure and for staff, training, and green infrastructure projects are desirable. An ecosystems services approach to municipal and project accounting may help reduce perceptions of higher costs. These findings suggest the utility of ethnographic approaches to the challenging problem of human behavior change in the Salish Sea basin.

Session Title

Behavior Change and the Salish Sea: Science and Application

Conference Track

People

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2016 : Vancouver, B.C.)

Document Type

Event

Location

2016SSEC

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Identifying Barriers to Green Infrastructure in Puget Sound Municipalities: An Ethnographic Approach

2016SSEC

Historically ethnographic research took anthropologists to the remote corners of the world to study little known indigenous cultures. Ethnographic methods developed in those disparate contexts can be honed and streamlined for rapid assessments of applied problems in complex cultures in contemporary settings. Mixed methods of participant observation, document analysis, interviews, focus groups, and an online survey have yielded intriguing insights into barriers faced by municipal employees as they implement green infrastructure in the Puget Sound region. Maintenance, especially when public agencies need to ensure that it is occurring on private property, appears as the most persistent barrier. Uncertainties in cost and performance increase risk and liability and drive up project costs, posing another widely recognized barrier. The challenge of retrofitting legacy infrastructure appears persistently across all methods of analysis. Communication across municipal divisions, especially those dividing public works from planning and community development, can be challenging for many municipalities. Potential solutions also emerged from the analysis. Reduction of risk and uncertainty with cost, benefit, and performance analyses is widely desired. Making developers responsible for environmental damage through better enforcement has broad appeal. Municipal employees would like better internal and external communication. Grants and other financial assistance for retrofitting legacy infrastructure and for staff, training, and green infrastructure projects are desirable. An ecosystems services approach to municipal and project accounting may help reduce perceptions of higher costs. These findings suggest the utility of ethnographic approaches to the challenging problem of human behavior change in the Salish Sea basin.