In September 2019, I worked with other students for Professor Pajo on “Environmental Discourse in Urban Setting.” Each team member will collect data across individuals and environment-related organizations in order to find how they practiced their environmental discourses. To find research subjects in this project, I focused on business perspectives, such as environmental-friendly shops. For example, I would look via Airbnb or Tripadvisor for sustainability tours or environmental activities. After I participated in the tours, I would approach the hosts asking if they would like to talk a little bit more about their thoughts on the environment; how they evaluate the relationship between individuals and nature in urban settings like New York City.
In terms of data collection, this research presents more challenging to analyze the data because of its qualitative nature. Conversations were collected with a loose structure, allowing each individual to demonstrate their perspectives in the most applicable pathway. Accordingly, the data is organized by finding common threads of reasoning: what inspires the business owners to do the work they do? What is it about environmental business which creates this sense of dedication?
As a case study, the horticulture community that I discovered in Brooklyn offers an interesting perspective on the relationship of people living in the city and nature. The owner showed great dedication to take care of the plants which decorated the whole apartment; she treated the plants as her equal and full of personalities. In this way, she not only created the sense of family in the space, but also reached the balance of self-care and environmentality. We also talked about how the horticulture community strived in NYC and what problems they faced. For example, since people kept moving around, oftentimes they would abandon the plants and left them to garbage. The community therefore developed their own “plant adoption” and “plant doctor,” as counterparts of “pet adoption or vet”, in order to rescue the plants. For me, this case presents ethnographic details on how individuals develop and adjust their relationships to nature in the urban environment.