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Remembering vacant lots:
Residents’ use of informal urban greenspace as
children and teenagers in Japan and Australia
Christoph Rupprecht
Jason Byrne
Environmental Futures Research Institute
Griffith University
Alex Lo
The Kadoorie Institute
University of Hong Kong
“When I was a child,
there were lots of vacant lots
and it was normal for kids to play there.
Today most of them are hard to get into.”
Hiroko, 52, female, from Sapporo
What can informal urban greenspace look like?
Street verge Gap
Railway Brownfield Waterside
Lots
Structural Microsite Powerline
Why use informal greenspace to play?
Play in parks is limited: strict rules, few
animals & plants, prescribed activities.
Young people use informal greenspace to
avoid rules & find chances to
• Play ball, hide and seek, explore
• Modify the environment
(e.g., build huts, tree houses)
• Escape parental oversight
(seek privacy)
No ball play!
IGS as ‘unclaimed territory’, space of becoming-other
Cloke & Jones (2005):
Childhood as fundamentally
‘other’ to adulthood:
‘disordered spaces’/IGS offer
territory to be different,
be a child
Children’s real
experience
Adult constructions of childhood
? Innocence ? Nature
Colin Ward (1978) The Child in the City
Photo removed for copyright reasons:
It shows a child kicking chairs that
burn on the lawn between 1960’s style
rental apartment blocks.
How to study past experiences? Working with memories
Memory as methodology:
important points (Philo 2003, Treacher 2000)
• Memories: window into the past
• Adult imaginations mix with
memories of childhood
• Nostalgia: everything was better
in the past… or was it?
• Researchers’ own experience
and memories of childhood
• Researchers’ point of view: adults
looking at childhood (perception)
Research questions
1. IGS use, frequency and activities?
2. Reasons for using IGS and not a park or garden?
3. Problems experienced when using IGS?
4. Differences between genders?
5. Differences between culture/geography context?
Two cities: case study locations
Location Brisbane Sapporo
Founded 1824, city status 1902 1868, city status 1922
Population 1,07 mil. (2010)  1,3 mil. (2031) 1,9 mil. (2011)  1,8 mil. (2030)
Pop. density 770/km2 (peak >5,000/km2) 1,700/km2 (peak >8,000/km2)
Park space 32m2 per person 12m2 per person
Study methods & sample characteristics
121 sites per city on 10x10km grid
Resident IGS questionnaire
• IGS use as child or teenager
• Reasons for IGS use
• Problems with IGS use
• Open comments
Sample
• N=99/163 (Brisbane/Sapporo)
• Median age 51/58
• Ages 19-84 (B), 21-90 (S)
• Women 59% (B), 53% (S)
Results: Remembered use of IGS in childhood
Percent of child/teen IGS users
0%
20%
40%
Every
day
Every
week
Every
month
A few
times per
year
Never
%ofIGSusers
0%
20%
40%
Every day Every
week
Every
month
A few
times per
year
Never
%ofIGSusers
IGS use as child
higher in Sapporo
IGS use as teenager
higher in Brisbane
85%
72%
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Brisbane Sapporo
%ofrespondents
Results: Remembered activities in IGS
• Playing games
• Exploration
• Walks
• Observing plants and animals
• Secret hiding place from adults
• Other (contemplation,
photography, swimming, taking
short cuts, relaxing, solitude)
Reasons for preferring IGS over parks or gardens
Brisbane Sapporo
It's near my home 76% 81%
It's wild and exciting 54% 31%
It's not crowded 43% 13%
There are more or different animals or plants 21% 17%
It has better privacy (nobody watching) 39% 11%
There are no use restrictions (e.g. no ball play) 35% 31%
It can be used for many things (e.g. gardening) 12% 4%
There are no nice parks near my home 13% 31%
I don't have a garden or similar greenspace 5% 8%
Other 11% 6%
Remembering problems experienced when using IGS
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Childhood Teen age
%ofIGSusers
Brisbane Sapporo
Users who experienced
no problems
Main remembered problems:
• Danger of injury (10-15%)
• Lots of litter (3-9%)
• Parents forbid use (0-6%)
• Hard to access (2-5%)
Analysis: Gender differences in IGS use
Almost no differences between genders, except:
In Sapporo,
Teenage male IGS users more likely to
• Use IGS for playing games (OR: 3.1)
• Observe animals & plants (OR: 4.6)
• Experience no problems (OR: 2.8)
• Use IGS because it had more or
different animals & plants (OR: 3.8)
Female IGS users
• Visited IGS less frequently
as teenagers (r=-.25)
• IGS played a recreational role for respondents of both genders
• Contrast to previous literature reporting larger differences
“Finding bugs, playing in grass as high as the kids themselves –
what a great experience for children! It certainly was for me. I
found bugs that just weren’t there in parks.”
Keiko, 39, female, from Sapporo
City differences: stronger decline in Sapporo IGS use
Child/teen
IGS users
85
%
72
%
Brisbane Sapporo
52
%
21
%
Brisbane Sapporo
Adult IGS use
0%
20%
40%
Every
day
Every
week
Every
month
A few
times
per
year
Never
Use frequency as children
0%
20%
40%
Every
day
Every
week
Every
month
A few
times
per
year
Never
Use frequency as teenagers
Adult IGS perception
65%
17%
12%
47%
5%
8%
19%
27%
0% 50% 100%
BrisbaneSapporo
Better Both Worse Neutral
Analysis: Reasons for declining IGS use?
“Today, there’s no place for young
teenagers to go other than hanging
out in front of convenience stores.”
Akiko, 39, female, from Sapporo
School, parents, peers...
Childhood /
Disorder
Adulthood /
Order
Socialization
Seeking new space
to construct identities
New territory,
e.g. internet
IGS as
unclaimed territory
“I have grown up
and don't use it any more.”
Robert, 68, male, from Brisbane
IGS play: safety vs. adults’ convenience
Hayashi 1999
• No evidence that IGS is more dangerous today
• “Culture of threatened litigation” (Cloke & Jones 2005) ➜
• Parental safety concerns vs. freedom to roam & play
In IGS-related child literature, (Mugford, 2012)
the ‘parent’ constitutes a barrier to children’s
access to challenging places & experiences
Conclusions
1. Most respondents used IGS as children & teenagers
2. Most IGS users experienced no problems
3. IGS use declined from childhood to adulthood
4. Safety concerns may limit children’s IGS access today
References
Cloke, Paul, and Owain Jones. 2005. “‘Unclaimed Territory’: Childhood and Disordered
Space(s).” Social & Cultural Geography 6 (3): 311–33.
Mugford, Katy. 2012. “Nature, Nurture; Danger, Adventure; Junkyard, Paradise; The Role of
Wildscapes in Children's Literature.” In Urban Wildscapes, edited by Anna
Jorgensen and Richard Keenan, 80–96. Abingdon: Routledge.
Philo, Chris. 2003. “‘To Go Back Up the Side Hill’: Memories, Imaginations and Reveries of
Childhood.” Children's Geographies 1 (1): 7–23.
Rupprecht, Christoph D D, Jason A Byrne, Hirofumi Ueda, and Alex Y H Lo. Forthcoming. “‘It’s
Real, Not Fake like a Park’: Residents’ Perception and Use of Informal Urban
Green- Space in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan.” Landscape and Urban Planning.
Rupprecht, C. D. D., Byrne, J. A., & Lo, A. Y. H. (2015). Memories of vacant lots: How and why
residents used informal urban greenspace as children and teenagers in Brisbane,
Australia and Sapporo, Japan. Children’s Geographies.
http://doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2015.1048427
Rupprecht, C. D. D., & Byrne, J. (2014). Informal urban green-space: comparison of quantity
and characteristics in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan. PLoS ONE, 9(6),
e99784. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099784
Treacher, Amal. 2000. “Children: Memories, Fantasies and Narratives: From Dilemma to
Complexity.” In Memory and Methodology, edited by S Radstone, 133–53. New
York: Berg Publishers.
Ward, Colin. 1978. The Child in the City. New York: Pantheon Books.
Thank you for listening!
Questions?
Many thanks to:
Yumi Nakagawa, Kumiko Nakagawa, Hirofumi
Ueda, Brisbane Council, Sapporo City, all
survey respondents
Blog: www.treepolis.org
Twitter: @focx
Google+: Christoph Rupprecht
This presentation is freely available @
ResearchGate, Slideshare, Academia.edu!

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Remembering vacant lots: Residents' use of informal urban greenspace as children and teenagers in Japan and Australia

  • 1. Remembering vacant lots: Residents’ use of informal urban greenspace as children and teenagers in Japan and Australia Christoph Rupprecht Jason Byrne Environmental Futures Research Institute Griffith University Alex Lo The Kadoorie Institute University of Hong Kong
  • 2. “When I was a child, there were lots of vacant lots and it was normal for kids to play there. Today most of them are hard to get into.” Hiroko, 52, female, from Sapporo
  • 3. What can informal urban greenspace look like? Street verge Gap Railway Brownfield Waterside Lots Structural Microsite Powerline
  • 4. Why use informal greenspace to play? Play in parks is limited: strict rules, few animals & plants, prescribed activities. Young people use informal greenspace to avoid rules & find chances to • Play ball, hide and seek, explore • Modify the environment (e.g., build huts, tree houses) • Escape parental oversight (seek privacy) No ball play!
  • 5. IGS as ‘unclaimed territory’, space of becoming-other Cloke & Jones (2005): Childhood as fundamentally ‘other’ to adulthood: ‘disordered spaces’/IGS offer territory to be different, be a child Children’s real experience Adult constructions of childhood ? Innocence ? Nature Colin Ward (1978) The Child in the City Photo removed for copyright reasons: It shows a child kicking chairs that burn on the lawn between 1960’s style rental apartment blocks.
  • 6. How to study past experiences? Working with memories Memory as methodology: important points (Philo 2003, Treacher 2000) • Memories: window into the past • Adult imaginations mix with memories of childhood • Nostalgia: everything was better in the past… or was it? • Researchers’ own experience and memories of childhood • Researchers’ point of view: adults looking at childhood (perception)
  • 7. Research questions 1. IGS use, frequency and activities? 2. Reasons for using IGS and not a park or garden? 3. Problems experienced when using IGS? 4. Differences between genders? 5. Differences between culture/geography context?
  • 8. Two cities: case study locations Location Brisbane Sapporo Founded 1824, city status 1902 1868, city status 1922 Population 1,07 mil. (2010)  1,3 mil. (2031) 1,9 mil. (2011)  1,8 mil. (2030) Pop. density 770/km2 (peak >5,000/km2) 1,700/km2 (peak >8,000/km2) Park space 32m2 per person 12m2 per person
  • 9. Study methods & sample characteristics 121 sites per city on 10x10km grid Resident IGS questionnaire • IGS use as child or teenager • Reasons for IGS use • Problems with IGS use • Open comments Sample • N=99/163 (Brisbane/Sapporo) • Median age 51/58 • Ages 19-84 (B), 21-90 (S) • Women 59% (B), 53% (S)
  • 10. Results: Remembered use of IGS in childhood Percent of child/teen IGS users 0% 20% 40% Every day Every week Every month A few times per year Never %ofIGSusers 0% 20% 40% Every day Every week Every month A few times per year Never %ofIGSusers IGS use as child higher in Sapporo IGS use as teenager higher in Brisbane 85% 72% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Brisbane Sapporo %ofrespondents
  • 11. Results: Remembered activities in IGS • Playing games • Exploration • Walks • Observing plants and animals • Secret hiding place from adults • Other (contemplation, photography, swimming, taking short cuts, relaxing, solitude)
  • 12. Reasons for preferring IGS over parks or gardens Brisbane Sapporo It's near my home 76% 81% It's wild and exciting 54% 31% It's not crowded 43% 13% There are more or different animals or plants 21% 17% It has better privacy (nobody watching) 39% 11% There are no use restrictions (e.g. no ball play) 35% 31% It can be used for many things (e.g. gardening) 12% 4% There are no nice parks near my home 13% 31% I don't have a garden or similar greenspace 5% 8% Other 11% 6%
  • 13. Remembering problems experienced when using IGS 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Childhood Teen age %ofIGSusers Brisbane Sapporo Users who experienced no problems Main remembered problems: • Danger of injury (10-15%) • Lots of litter (3-9%) • Parents forbid use (0-6%) • Hard to access (2-5%)
  • 14. Analysis: Gender differences in IGS use Almost no differences between genders, except: In Sapporo, Teenage male IGS users more likely to • Use IGS for playing games (OR: 3.1) • Observe animals & plants (OR: 4.6) • Experience no problems (OR: 2.8) • Use IGS because it had more or different animals & plants (OR: 3.8) Female IGS users • Visited IGS less frequently as teenagers (r=-.25) • IGS played a recreational role for respondents of both genders • Contrast to previous literature reporting larger differences “Finding bugs, playing in grass as high as the kids themselves – what a great experience for children! It certainly was for me. I found bugs that just weren’t there in parks.” Keiko, 39, female, from Sapporo
  • 15. City differences: stronger decline in Sapporo IGS use Child/teen IGS users 85 % 72 % Brisbane Sapporo 52 % 21 % Brisbane Sapporo Adult IGS use 0% 20% 40% Every day Every week Every month A few times per year Never Use frequency as children 0% 20% 40% Every day Every week Every month A few times per year Never Use frequency as teenagers Adult IGS perception 65% 17% 12% 47% 5% 8% 19% 27% 0% 50% 100% BrisbaneSapporo Better Both Worse Neutral
  • 16. Analysis: Reasons for declining IGS use? “Today, there’s no place for young teenagers to go other than hanging out in front of convenience stores.” Akiko, 39, female, from Sapporo School, parents, peers... Childhood / Disorder Adulthood / Order Socialization Seeking new space to construct identities New territory, e.g. internet IGS as unclaimed territory “I have grown up and don't use it any more.” Robert, 68, male, from Brisbane
  • 17. IGS play: safety vs. adults’ convenience Hayashi 1999 • No evidence that IGS is more dangerous today • “Culture of threatened litigation” (Cloke & Jones 2005) ➜ • Parental safety concerns vs. freedom to roam & play In IGS-related child literature, (Mugford, 2012) the ‘parent’ constitutes a barrier to children’s access to challenging places & experiences
  • 18. Conclusions 1. Most respondents used IGS as children & teenagers 2. Most IGS users experienced no problems 3. IGS use declined from childhood to adulthood 4. Safety concerns may limit children’s IGS access today
  • 19. References Cloke, Paul, and Owain Jones. 2005. “‘Unclaimed Territory’: Childhood and Disordered Space(s).” Social & Cultural Geography 6 (3): 311–33. Mugford, Katy. 2012. “Nature, Nurture; Danger, Adventure; Junkyard, Paradise; The Role of Wildscapes in Children's Literature.” In Urban Wildscapes, edited by Anna Jorgensen and Richard Keenan, 80–96. Abingdon: Routledge. Philo, Chris. 2003. “‘To Go Back Up the Side Hill’: Memories, Imaginations and Reveries of Childhood.” Children's Geographies 1 (1): 7–23. Rupprecht, Christoph D D, Jason A Byrne, Hirofumi Ueda, and Alex Y H Lo. Forthcoming. “‘It’s Real, Not Fake like a Park’: Residents’ Perception and Use of Informal Urban Green- Space in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan.” Landscape and Urban Planning. Rupprecht, C. D. D., Byrne, J. A., & Lo, A. Y. H. (2015). Memories of vacant lots: How and why residents used informal urban greenspace as children and teenagers in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan. Children’s Geographies. http://doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2015.1048427 Rupprecht, C. D. D., & Byrne, J. (2014). Informal urban green-space: comparison of quantity and characteristics in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan. PLoS ONE, 9(6), e99784. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099784 Treacher, Amal. 2000. “Children: Memories, Fantasies and Narratives: From Dilemma to Complexity.” In Memory and Methodology, edited by S Radstone, 133–53. New York: Berg Publishers. Ward, Colin. 1978. The Child in the City. New York: Pantheon Books.
  • 20. Thank you for listening! Questions? Many thanks to: Yumi Nakagawa, Kumiko Nakagawa, Hirofumi Ueda, Brisbane Council, Sapporo City, all survey respondents Blog: www.treepolis.org Twitter: @focx Google+: Christoph Rupprecht This presentation is freely available @ ResearchGate, Slideshare, Academia.edu!

Editor's Notes

  1. Remembering vacant lots: Residents’ use of informal urban greenspace as children and teenagers in Japan and Australia – by Christoph Rupprecht, Jason Byrne, and Alex Lo. Presentation at the Japan Geoscience Union meeting 2015, session “International comparison of landscape appreciation”.
  2. I would like to start with a quote from woman from Sapporo. I call her Hiroko, and she wrote in reply to my survey:
  3. Vacant lots belong to a group of liminal urban space I call informal greenspace. Defined as anthropogenic, socio-ecological space covered partly with spontaneous vegetation, not recognised/managed by owner as recreational, agricultural or conservation space no gardens, parks etc.
  4. Why use IGS? Aren’t parks and other greenspaces enough for children? Not really. Researchers have documented a variety of reasons for using IGS.
  5. When we talk about children, we often think about them as small version of adults who are somehow innocent and pure – a notion we often connect with nature, talking about what is natural. In an important paper, Cloke and Jones have challenged this idea. They ask, what if children are fundamentally different from adults, what if they are what geographers call “other”, opposites of the order of the adult world? In this case, the absence of rules that IGS offer may attract children.
  6. Researchers have written about children using IGS today. But when I talked to people, they always told me about their childhood, how they used IGS when they were little. So I wondered: how DID people use IGS as children?
  7. In comparison, large majority of residents in both cities used IGS as a child or teenager, most of them daily or weekly. Popular activities are similar.
  8. Case comparison study: two cities very similar in some aspects, but different in others. Both cities are young coastal cities with a clear urban core. Sapporo has higher pop. density and less park space. Next, research design.
  9. Introduce study design and locations. Combination of mail-back questionnaire about IGS for residents, and land use survey of IGS percentage, types, accessibility, vegetation structure
  10. In comparison, large majority of residents in both cities used IGS as a child or teenager, most of them daily or weekly. Popular activities are similar.
  11. Perceived benefits show some similarities (e.g. ecosystem services, scenery) and some differences (e.g.). Overall, Brisbane residents named a much larger number of benefits.
  12. Perceived benefits show some similarities (e.g. ecosystem services, scenery) and some differences (e.g.). Overall, Brisbane residents named a much larger number of benefits.
  13. Perceived benefits show some similarities (e.g. ecosystem services, scenery) and some differences (e.g.). Overall, Brisbane residents named a much larger number of benefits.
  14. Why this pressure against using IGS?
  15. Thank you very much for your attention! I would like to thank all the people who supported me in my project. If you are interested in this topic, feel free to follow me on my research blog, twitter or on Google+. You can also find this presentation and other presentations on informal greenspace on Slideshare. Questions?