Seed Stories: A Narrative Inquiry into the Experiences of Urban Recreation Practitioners in Garden, Recreation, and Community Places

  • Author / Creator
    Dubnewick, Michael
  • This paper-based dissertation draws upon wonders grafted from a prior narrative inquiry into my experiences as a recreation researcher-practitioner in multiple community gardens. Drawing upon my grafted wonders of how do recreation practitioners learn to live in relationally ethical ways (Clandinin, Caine, & Lessard, 2018) alongside the people and places they work, I designed a research project in which I narratively inquired into the experiences of two recreation practitioners as they worked alongside urban Indigenous peoples in a community garden project. As we lived alongside (Clandinin, 2013) each other in a community garden project we continually inquired into who we were and who we were becoming as people who practice. As we shared stories of what guided us, what had been planted in us, and how we wanted to live as people who practiced we continually composed spaces to rethink who we were and how we were storied as recreation practitioners.
    Narrative inquiry is both a research methodology and a way of understanding experience (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). In this research I lived alongside participants over one garden season at River Ravine Garden. Multiple times each week I accompanied gardeners and practitioners out to the garden and partook in daily garden activities. During the garden season I composed field notes and had many informal conversations in the garden. The two participants in my study, Margaret and Clark, also wrote weekly reflective journals, which they shared and often conversed about with me. We also engaged in several recorded and transcribed research conversations in the months and years that followed the garden season. By drawing on these diverse field texts I composed a narrative account for each participant, which I shared and negotiated with them.
    Often in recreation practice the diverse lives of practitioners are silenced as notions of professional competence in relation to achieving program outcomes and benefits sit at the fore (Samdahl, 2016). This research makes a significant contribution to the field of recreation and leisure studies by shifting grand narratives of recreation practice by thinking with practitioners as they compose their lives. By thinking with practitioners as they compose their lives on storied landscapes, this research shows how ethical responses are negotiated in the living as lives come together, and not in the predetermined telling of how practitioners should respond. I argue that the narrow focus on the technical aspects of practice (e.g., professional competence and programming outcomes) silences the relational aspects of practice (i.e., narrative experiences of whole lives, personal and professional, coming together with an attention to who we are and how both lives are shaped in the encounter).
    As you read this dissertation it is important to note what holds this dissertation together are puzzles around learning to live in relationally ethical ways in recreation practice. They are methodological puzzles of what reflexive work needs to be continually done so recreation practitioners can live alongside community members in more wakeful ways. They are puzzles of rethinking what matters in recreation discourse when notions of professional competence and programming outcomes/benefits silence the living and building of friendship/relation. And they are puzzles that inquire into how place(s) shape the practice of recreation workers as they negotiate how to live relationally with the people they come alongside in the places they work.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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