Fruitful Connections: The Potential of the Copley Community Orchard, An Urban Commons

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Blachut, Lisa
School of environment and sustainability
This thesis research explored the role of urban community spaces, focusing on the Copley Community Orchard in Vancouver, British Columbia. Using a narrative inquiry methodology, the study used community mapping, photovoice and “clean language” based, semi-structured interviews to gather qualitative data about participants’ experiences in this place. The research process was informed by literature relating to the themes of urbanisation, disconnection from nature, the concepts of time and place, the contested role of community gardens and orchards, and the emerging scholarship on decolonisation in Canada. Participants articulated the ways that the orchard was an important place of personal introspection, interspecies reciprocity, and social connection and learning. Future potential of this space in relation to the ongoing project of reconciliation, climate resiliency, food security, civic engagement, and reclaiming the commons was also discussed. This study also highlighted the possibilities to create urban green spaces that are inclusive and accessible for all, regardless of culture, ethnicity, physical ability, or socioeconomic status. Implications for directions towards future urban planning, with a focus on the concept of the commons, are discussed at the end of this paper. Keywords: urban commons, community orchard, place-responsiveness, decolonisation, clean language, narrative inquiry, community mapping
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