Bioregional communication: watersheds, community participation and synchronicity
This thesis is a qualitative study about community participation in watershed management. Specifically, it looks for evidence of bottom-up participation. The study is a meta-evaluation of eighteen watershed projects from the perspective of local change agents. The watershed projects are evaluated in terms of levels of participation from top-down to bottom-up. Agent understandings of participation, their processes of building citizen partnerships and their experiences of trust within communities are explored. The findings show that there is no consensus among agents on what bottom-up participation means, that participation falls along a continuum from ritual to authentic and that participation depends on building trust between diverse stakeholders. The study suggests that authentic communication among diverse stakeholders can build trust, social networks and shared social norms necessary for sustainable bioregions. Beyond this, the notion of synchronicity adds an element of coincidence, or randomness to the dynamics of a project.