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Interpreting amenities, envisioning the future: Common ground and conflict in North Carolina's rural coastal communities

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This paper contributes to ongoing discussions about the implications of rural change and amenity migration for members of diverse rural communities. We engage with recent amenity migration and political ecology literature that focuses on social constructions of nature and landscapes, and how these constructions affect the attitudes and opinions of community members. We use our case study of a mail-based survey in Down East, North Carolina to suggest that the ways in which people conceptualize the particular ‘natures’ and landscapes of a place matters in terms of shaping people’s attitudes with respect to ongoing processes of change. We find that people’s opinions about environment, culture, and land use are often superficially similar but that when conflicts arise or particular actions are considered, substantial differences in people’s underlying conceptual frameworks are revealed. In particular we find that despite widespread shared appreciation of the environment and culture Down East, differing interpretations of these key terms lead to potential misunderstandings and land use planning challenges. KeywordsAmenity migration–Rural–Heritage–Political ecology–Landscape–Community–Planning
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Interpreting amenities, envisioning the future: common
ground and conflict in North Carolina’s rural coastal
communities
Noe
¨lle Boucquey Lisa M. Campbell
Gabriel Cumming Zoe
¨A. Meletis
Carla Norwood Joshua Stoll
Published online: 24 November 2010
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Abstract This paper contributes to ongoing discus-
sions about the implications of rural change and
amenity migration for members of diverse rural
communities. We engage with recent amenity migra-
tion and political ecology literature that focuses on
social constructions of nature and landscapes, and
how these constructions affect the attitudes and
opinions of community members. We use our case
study of a mail-based survey in Down East, North
Carolina to suggest that the ways in which people
conceptualize the particular ‘natures’ and landscapes
of a place matters in terms of shaping people’s
attitudes with respect to ongoing processes of change.
We find that people’s opinions about environment,
culture, and land use are often superficially similar
but that when conflicts arise or particular actions
are considered, substantial differences in people’s
underlying conceptual frameworks are revealed. In
particular we find that despite widespread shared
appreciation of the environment and culture Down
East, differing interpretations of these key terms lead
to potential misunderstandings and land use planning
challenges.
Keywords Amenity migration Rural Heritage
Political ecology Landscape Community
Planning
Introduction
I would like to see reasonable development,
none of the Myrtle Beach high-rise type. I
would like to see enough economic develop-
ment that the young people don’t have to leave
the area to find jobs in other parts of the state
(S#868).
More commercial fishing and less building of
summer homes (S#1121).
Conservation-oriented growth with strong land-
scape management (S#1168).
The above responses to the question ‘‘what would
you most like to see in the future of Down East?’’ hint
at the complex economic, cultural, and environmental
issues being wrestled with as community members
negotiate changes in the rural coastal region of Down
East, North Carolina. The changes occurring Down
East reflect in many ways the global phenomena of
rural restructuring and amenity migration (Cadieux
and Hurley 2010; McCarthy 2008; Nelson 2001b). As
in areas of the American West, Europe, and Oceania,
communities Down East are grappling with declining
primary production activities, increasing numbers of
relatively wealthier in-migrants, and associated class
N. Boucquey (&)L. M. Campbell G. Cumming
C. Norwood J. Stoll
Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC, USA
e-mail: ncb7@duke.edu
Z. A. Meletis
University of Northern British Columbia,
Prince George, BC, Canada
123
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
DOI 10.1007/s10708-010-9387-1
and cultural tensions. How these trends are manifested
locally, however, differs from otherwise similar case
studies in the particular histories of how the land- and
seascapes have been utilized (and conceptualized)
Down East and in the resulting ways that environ-
mental and cultural amenities are currently interpreted
and valued by different segments of the communities.
This paper contributes to ongoing discussions
about the implications of rural change and amenity
migration in terms of how these global trends are
expressed in particular communities and how physical
landscapes and individual geographical imaginaries
are both continually transformed in the process.
Heeding recent calls for better integration of different
approaches to studying the phenomenon of amenity
migration (Gosnell and Abrams 2010; Walker 2010),
we engage with cultural geography, environmental
history, and rural sociology literatures that focus on
the social construction and production of nature and
landscapes (e.g., Castree and Braun 2001; Cronon
1996b; Eden 2001; Greider and Garkovich 1994), and
how such constructions affect the discourses, opin-
ions, and identities of diverse exurban community
members. In addition, we draw on (primarily ‘First
World’) political ecology work that addresses how
these constructions of nature are employed in political
forums and with what effects on the economic and
ecological structures of communities (e.g., McCarthy
2002; Prudham 2007; Robbins and Sharp 2003;
Walker and Hurley 2004). To some extent, we mirror
the theoretical approaches taken by Walker and
Fortmann (2003) and Cadieux (2010) in specifically
considering productions of nature and landscape in
addition to being concerned with the political and
economic dimensions of changing community struc-
tures. Finally, we build on an emerging literature
examining the changing rural American South in the
context of amenity migration and rural gentrification
(Finewood and Meletis 2009; Hurley and Halfacre
2010; Johnson et al. 2009; Nesbitt and Weiner 2001;
Cumming 2007). We compare our regional similar-
ities and differences with these studies and with the
larger body of work examining amenity migration in
the American West and on other continents.
Our purpose in conducting this analysis is to add a
unique case study to the literature examining amenity
migration and related processes, and to compare it with
findings in other areas. Based on our case study, we
suggest that how people conceptualize the particular
‘natures’ and landscapes—or seascapes—of a place
and the history of their use matters in shaping people’s
attitudes and actions with respect to ongoing processes
of change. We find that people’s opinions about
environment, culture, and land use are often superfi-
cially similar but that when conflicts arise or particular
actions are considered, substantial differences in
people’s underlying conceptual frameworks are
revealed. However, these frameworks are not always
easily associated with particular resident types (e.g.,
short-term or long-term, part-time or full-time). This
paper proceeds first with a literature review and
analysis of our case study location, followed by a
description of our research methods. We then report the
results of a mail-based survey of approximately 1,000
property owners and discuss its implications within the
wider amenity migration literature.
The complexities of amenity migration
As the authors contributing to the forthcoming Geo-
Journal special issue Amenity Migration, Exurbia, and
Emerging Rural Landscapes make clear, amenity
migration and its related phenomena (exurbanization,
rural gentrification) are not easily definable processes.
Over the past few years, however, several authors have
made efforts at defining amenity migration. Moss
(2006, p. 3) describes it as simply ‘‘the migration to
places that people perceive as having greater environ-
mental quality and differentiated culture.’’ In his work
on amenity migration in mountainous regions, Moss
identifies the possession of disposable time and/or
wealth as particularly facilitating the process. McCar-
thy (2008, p. 130) adds detail to Moss’s definition,
describing amenity migration as ‘‘the purchasing of
primary or second residences in rural areas valued for
their aesthetic, recreational, and other consumption-
orientated use values.’’ For McCarthy, a key compo-
nent of amenity migration is this idea of consumption,
and research questions focusing on how natural and
cultural amenities—properties, views, recreational
activities, particular social values—are being con-
sumed in new ways are an important part of under-
standing the global characteristics of the phenomenon.
Despite its somewhat loose definition, scholars agree
that amenity migration ‘‘is contributing to the funda-
mental transformation of rural communities’’ espe-
cially in the ‘First World,’ and many questions remain
about what these transformations mean for individuals,
84 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
communities, regions, and within the wider context of
an evolving global capitalism (Gosnell and Abrams
2010, NP).
The focal areas of political ecology provide
guidance in addressing some of the key questions
associated with amenity migration. McCarthy (2002,
p. 1283) lists several concerns of political ecology
particularly relevant to ‘First World’ case studies,
including (among others),
the centrality of livelihood issues; ambiguities
in property rights and the importance of infor-
mal claims to resource use and access; the
importance of local histories, meanings, culture,
and ‘micropolitics’ in resource use; [and] the
disenfranchisement of legitimate local users and
uses.
Each of these concerns are applicable to the study
of amenity migration in different ways. Questions
about how migrants and long-term residents make
their livings, what resources they use—or explicitly
do not use—in the process, and how livelihoods
change over time in a particular place are especially
central to thinking about the economic, cultural, and
political ramifications of amenity migration (Walker
and Fortmann 2003; Walker and Hurley 2004).
Schroeder et al. (2006, p. 167) also comment on
political ecology’s usefulness for exploring ‘First
World’ phenomena, noting that ‘‘the theories of
power and domination that underpin the uneven
development thesis still carry a great deal of analyt-
ical weight when applied to the First World.’’ With
respect to amenity migration, it is thus pertinent to
ask how amenity migrants may be contributing to
uneven development through particular commodifi-
cations of nature or by creating new regional
disparities in wealth (Sayre 2010).
In existing political ecology studies addressing
amenity migration, several themes stand out. Given
political ecologists’ interests in the politics of
resource access and in the ways discourses are
employed by different groups to maintain or create
political power, several studies have examined how
conflicts over changing land uses have played out in
the public sphere (e.g., Campbell and Meletis, in
review; Johnson et al. 2009; Nesbitt and Weiner
2001; Young 2010). Walker and Fortmann (2003)
and Hurley and Walker (2004), for instance, traced
the contentious public planning politics that
developed in Nevada County, California. They found
distinctly different discourses between exurban in-
migrants (interested in preserving habitats and view-
sheds) and long-term locals (interested in maintaining
private property rights and a working landscape) that
contributed to an acrimonious, failed open-space
land-use planning effort by the county government.
While not explicitly employing political ecology,
Smith (2002) also found competing discourses of
rurality in a West Yorkshire, UK community between
generally lower-income locals and the ‘yuppies’
moving in. He also found that real estate agents
played a key role in constructing and commodifying
the rural environment, in effect acting as ‘rural
gatekeepers’ restricting certain groups’ access to
particular housing areas. These studies point to the
cultural and class tensions that can arise in regions
experiencing amenity migration.
Related areas of concern for political ecologists
and economic geographers are the community effects
of moving from a productivist to a ‘post-productivist’
rural economy (McCarthy 2008; Taylor 2010). In
other words, many high-amenity rural areas are
transitioning from productive or ‘worked’ landscapes
of farming, forestry, or fishing to landscapes primar-
ily used for recreation or residential life. Scott et al.
(2010) highlight the distress that long-term residents
of communities in Wales, UK feel regarding the loss
of productive agricultural lands to new developments
for amenity migrants from outside Wales (develop-
ments that often employ an out-of-character archi-
tecture for the region). Related to concerns about the
loss of agriculture are long-term residents’ worries
about the increasing numbers of young people
leaving their hometowns. Economic changes in the
area are thus intimately connected with anxieties
about community character and heritage, family, and
the future. Hurley and Halfacre (2010) also examine
the linkages between livelihoods, land use change
and community heritage in the context of the
sweetgrass basket-making economy of the South
Carolina Lowcountry. They find that developments
catering to amenity migrants, through both habitat
destruction and property access restrictions, make it
difficult for sweetgrass basket-makers to supply their
centuries-old craft. As Cadieux and Hurley (2010)
note, these and similar studies raise new questions
about how traditional productive practices are being
integrated with amenity consumption, and about the
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 85
123
tradeoffs involved in switching from productive to
consumptive activities.
Amenity migration-induced changes in economic
and cultural activities are also associated with the
notion of rural gentrification, which Gosnell and
Abrams (2010, NP) define as ‘‘community change
resulting from displacement of local households
through increases in the cost of living and home
prices.’’ Sociologists in particular are studying the
intersection between amenity migration and rural
gentrification. Several studies have explored whether
long-term residents benefit from amenity migration or
whether rising costs of living diminish the overall
economic positions of long-term residents. Hender-
son and McDaniel (1998) found that employment and
incomes were higher and grew faster in scenic versus
non-scenic rural counties, suggesting that amenity
migration might contribute to gross economic
growth. Hunter et al. (2005) also found that long-
term residents of high-growth rural amenity areas had
higher incomes than their counterparts in lower-
amenity areas. However, they found that these
income increases were largely due to proliferating
low-wage service sector employment and that income
increases were negated by higher costs of living
(Hunter et al. 2005; Saint Onge et al. 2007). Others
have suggested that increases in land values are
particularly likely to cause financial hardship for
long-term residents in rural amenity areas (Ghose
2004;Lo
¨ffler and Steinicke 2006). However, as
Nelson (1997) makes clear, issues of rural growth
are more complicated than simple old-timer/new-
comer conflicts, with both newcomers and old-timers
more economically and culturally diverse than is
often portrayed. Particularly given the tendency for
local planning commissions to concentrate on sim-
plistic community representations and gross eco-
nomic growth in making development decisions,
Burby (2003) argues that it is thus essential for
researchers and planners to address the less tangible,
but fundamentally important social, political, and
environmental implications of changing development
patterns.
Considering heritage, landscapes, and nature
It is important to consider social constructions of land
and landscapes with respect to how existing commu-
nities and amenity migrants conceptualize their
working, recreational, and everyday relationships
with particular locations. Greider and Garkovich
(1994, p. 1) define landscapes as ‘‘symbolic environ-
ments created by human acts of conferring meaning to
nature and the environment, of giving the environ-
ment definition and form from a particular angle of
vision and through a special filter of values and
beliefs.’’ Indeed, the many unique ‘filters’ through
which different people conceptualize landscapes can
create difficulties in communicating and reaching
agreement about land uses in a particular area. Walker
and Fortmann (2003), for instance, describe conflict-
ing ‘landscape visions’ between amenity migrants
seeing landscapes of natural beauty and old-timers
seeing the very same places as landscapes of produc-
tion. This is a common divide in regions experiencing
amenity migration (e.g., Halseth 1998; Smith 2002).
And as Cronon (1996a, p. 16) reminds us, visions of
landscape are intimately related to livelihoods, noting
that ‘‘the dream of an unworked natural landscape is
very much the fantasy of people who have never
themselves had to work the land to make a living.’’ In
a ‘Third World’ example of the material dangers of
this particular fantasy, Neumann (2003) relates the
cautionary tale of how privileging the consumption of
scenic non-human nature over human labor in Seren-
geti National Park effectively denied thousands of
years of human access to the land and altered land-use
patterns outside the park. It is thus crucial to examine
the relationships between socially constructed and
material landscapes [keeping in mind that both are
intertwined and continually being reshaped (Paquette
and Domon 2003)].
In thinking about how amenity communities
interact with imagined and material landscapes,
questions about how histories and natures are
produced can be informative. Walker (2010) argues
that including deeper discussions of history in studies
of exurbia is important for both understanding the
economic place of a community within historical
development patterns and also for understanding how
particular meanings come to be associated with
particular places (which may then be contested as
amenity migrants move in). Further, Harvey (1996,
p. 173) reminds us that discourses about nature are
always ‘‘moments in a social process in which
conflicting forms of social power struggle to gain
command of institutions, social relations and material
practices for particular purposes.’’ It is thus useful to
86 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
consider who controls the formation and promulga-
tion of particular messages about the nature or history
of a place, and who benefits from such discursive
constructions. As Jacob et al. (2005) point out in a
study of historic fishing communities, the use of
‘heritage narratives’ is never politically neutral:
messages touting an area’s rich commercial fishing
culture may be easily co-opted by people (such as
developers, tourist-attraction operators, or restaura-
teurs) whose activities may actually diminish the
viability of commercial fishing by altering patterns of
land use and employment. Real estate developers in
particular use images and stories to commodify the
(sometimes already extinct) heritages or natural
resources of particular places (Larsen et al. 2007;
Park and Coppack 1994; Smith 2002). Given that
many competing discourses about a place may exist
simultaneously, it is perhaps unsurprising that ame-
nity migrants’ ideas about what is ‘rural’ or ‘natural’
may frequently clash with longtime residents’ under-
standings of these same concepts (Gosnell and
Abrams 2010).
Indeed, particular constructions of landscape,
nature, and property by long-term residents and
migrants may have substantial effects on the ways
amenity migration is manifested in specific places.
For instance, Yung and Belsky (2007) explain how
amenity migration disrupted established patterns of
land use and property rights in the Mountain West as
newcomers and long-term residents held distinctly
different ideas about fences and trespassing, with
newcomers being less willing to allow casual use of
their properties. In discussing tensions between
amenity migrants and long-term residents over the
meaning of landscapes, however, it is important not
to lose sight of the heterogeneity of communities
(Gosnell and Abrams 2010; Nelson 2001a; Nesbitt
and Weiner 2001). The influx of amenity migrants
and associated development can act as a catalyst
within already heterogeneous communities, sparking
discussions about the character of their region and
desired or undesired land uses. In areas with historic
ties to particular activities, the importance of heritage
for some segments of the community may become
magnified as threats to it are perceived (Paulsen
2007). Sometimes when a particular activity (such as
ranching or commercial fishing) no longer supports a
community economically, it may retain cultural
dominance in local conceptions of place (Jacob
et al. 2005; Sheridan 2001). Nevertheless, even in
areas where there appears to be broad agreement,
people’s attitudes toward a community’s natural and
cultural resources may be quite nuanced. Nesbitt and
Weiner (2001), for instance, found a ‘social layering’
of geographical imaginaries among community mem-
bers in Central Appalachia which could not be simply
assigned to ‘locals’ and ‘outsiders.’
The heterogeneity of discourses and understand-
ings of nature and culture in communities experienc-
ing amenity migration can lead to difficulties for both
researchers (in defining the issues and processes at
work) and for public planners (in communicating
ideas and intentions to a community) (Cadieux 2010;
Walker and Fortmann 2003). Cadieux (2010) argues
that planning discourses commonly use the category
‘nature’ in ways that obstruct instead of facilitate
public discussion. She describes two key problems
with nature discourses in public planning spheres;
including slippage, or confusion among multiple
meanings, and naturalization, or moral claims about
nature that tend to shut down discussion. Cadieux
notes that both of these problems return to the
questions of whose nature will be managed, in what
ways, and for what ends. Walker (2010) also notes
that planning difficulties arise not just through
conflicts between planners’ and citizens’ conceptions
of nature or landscape, but also through the lack of
understanding scholars have of amenity migrants’
aspirations. We have made little progress to date
understanding what their ultimate goals are in
relocating and how these goals may or may not
coincide with those of longtime residents. Walker
argues that achieving a better understanding of such
aspirations could lead to a more precise definition and
explication of exurbia and amenity migration.
The literature discussed above is useful in consid-
ering how the attitudes expressed by landowners in
our case study area relate to their underlying
conceptualizations of key concepts like environment,
culture, and property. Our study is informed by
previous work that examines the links between
changing productive and consumptive practices asso-
ciated with amenity migration and the concerns of
different resident groups toward new economies and
changing cultural and physical landscapes. Our
analysis furthers these investigations by examining
the differences between broadly-stated attitudes and
more specific explanations of ‘nature’ and ‘culture’;
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 87
123
and by revealing some of the complexity and
contradictions found in a changing region.
The Down East context: coastal communities
confront change
Down East is an unincorporated area of Carteret
County, North Carolina. It includes 13 communities
stretched along approximately 30 miles of inner
(sound-side) coastline from the North River Bridge to
Cedar Island (Figs. 1,2). The communities are
situated between the coast and large federal govern-
ment landholdings (Cedar Island National Wildlife
Refuge and Cape Lookout National Seashore), and
are also bordered to the north by a 44,000-acre
agricultural holding known as Open Grounds Farm.
The communities range in population from 200 in
Stacy to approximately 2,700 in Straits
1
(Carteret
County and Coastal Planning Services 2005). The
topography is very flat, with most communities only a
few feet above sea level. At low tide, mud flats
extend for many acres along the shoreline and the air
becomes thick with the scent of marsh grass and
decaying marine organisms. As one survey respon-
dent described it, Down East’s landscape is ‘‘unlike
any other, but reminiscent of the Chesapeake Bay
Eastern Shore or Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy’
(S#353).
Originally home to the Tuscarora tribe of Native
Americans, English settlers arrived in the Down East
area in the early 1700s. For most of the past 300 years,
residents Down East made a living primarily through
commercial fishing and its support industries (e.g.,
processing facilities, boat building, and transport
services). Over the past three decades, however, the
commercial fishing industry Down East has slowly
declined, and with it have gone many of the small
business and services that support the communities
there. For example, the area used to include about 30
fish houses; there are now approximately five left in
business. Grocery stores, banks, and medical facilities
have shut their doors, and community schools have
declining enrollments that threaten their viability.
While many residents’ incomes are still linked to
commercial fishing, others are now employed by the
State ferry system or by the large U.S. Marine Corps
base in the nearby town of Havelock. In this way,
Down East is experiencing some of the same
challenges faced by rural communities elsewhere in
Fig. 1 Carteret County
(map by J. Stoll)
Fig. 2 Down East (map by J. Stoll)
1
Population figures are by township. Straits Township
includes the communities of Straits, Bettie, Otway, and
Gloucester.
88 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
the country- we see a decline in extractive industry (in
this case fishing) and an increase in problems
associated with declining year-round populations.
The amenity migration occurring Down East is
relatively recent and relatively slow compared with
many locations in the American West (where much of
the existing amenity migration research has occurred).
Unlike the double-digit population growth seen in
some areas of the West (Lo
¨ffler and Steinicke 2006),
most communities Down East are still experiencing
year-round population declines even as the total
housing development is increasing (Carteret County
and Coastal Planning Services 2005). Currently, the
most visible effects of amenity migration are located
in a few pockets scattered amid the communities
Down East and most prominently throughout the
community of Harkers Island. Connected to the
mainland by a short bridge, Harkers Island boasts
excellent views of the surrounding communities and
the Cape Lookout National Seashore, and is also
relatively close to the nearby incorporated town of
Beaufort (about a 30-min drive away). It is likely that
the combination of these factors has helped to make
Harkers Island one of the first communities to
experience increased development Down East.
Whether or not this development can be termed rural
gentrification is a matter for debate; however, the area
has seen the fastest rise in property values of
anywhere Down East. And indeed, analysis of Cart-
eret County tax parcel information shows that only
45% of properties are owned by County residents,
compared to 55% in Down East as a whole. Further, it
is well known throughout the region that many
Harkers Island locals have sold their properties and
now live in newly-formed mobile home parks in
mainland communities like Gloucester (Fig. 3). The
new development on Harkers Island is particularly
prominent in that its architecture differs substantially
from existing development. In contrast to the ground-
level, one-story older homes, new development on
Harkers Island is primarily comprised of two or three-
story homes on stilts with paved driveways and more
manicured yards than are found elsewhere.
As a set of unincorporated communities, gover-
nance of the region falls to the county level; Down East
is governed by the seven-member Carteret County
Board of Commissioners. The Down East district
elects one member of this board, based on their
population in comparison to the remainder of the
county. Land use decisions are made based on the 2005
Land Use Plan. Down East thus currently has no
municipal or regional level zoning in place (since no
areas are incorporated) and until recently, local custom
dictated the construction of mostly one-story, modest
wood or brick homes. However, as amenity migration
has driven the proliferation of relatively expensive
multi-story homes that tend to ‘stand out’ on the
landscape, some residents have grown increasingly
anxious about the future of their communities. In 2006,
a group calling itself ‘Down East Tomorrow’ asked the
Carteret County Board of Commissioners to consider a
one-year moratorium on new large-scale residential
and marina development projects so that Down East
communities could consider how best to plan for the
future. The members of Down East Tomorrow
included both long-term residents and recent migrants
who shared generally favorable attitudes toward plan-
ning processes. The proposal was rejected by the Board
of Commissioners on the grounds that it would place
unacceptable restrictions on development.
The public debate about the proposed moratorium
was highly politicized and often acrimonious (see
Fig. 3 New Harkers Island Development and a Gloucester Mobile Home Park (photos by N. Boucquey)
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 89
123
Campbell and Meletis, in review). While not quite
reaching the prolonged levels of acrimony described
by Walker and Hurley (2004) and Hurley and Walker
(2004) in their study of a failed community planning
process in the Sierra Nevadas, the experience Down
East nevertheless raised similar questions about whose
vision for the area matters and whose definitions of
environment and culture would guide future develop-
ment. During the publicly-recorded debate about
development Down East, both those for and against
the proposed development moratorium argued that
large segments of ‘the people’ Down East were not
being heard, and a frequent comment was that there
was some type of ‘silent majority’. Both proponents
and opponents claimed segments of this ‘silent’ group.
Thus, a primary impetus for this research stemmed
from the dearth of data on how residents and
landowners Down East actually think and feel about
development, and how this data could help explain the
concerns and aspirations of different groups with a
stake in the Down East region. In collecting this data,
we aimed to explore how amenity migration is
affecting this rural coastal area and how such migration
fits into larger questions about rural restructuring and
changing conceptions of environment and culture.
Research methods
This paper focuses on the results of a randomized
mail survey of Down East landowners. However, this
survey comprised only one aspect of a larger mixed-
methods project conducted with input from several
Down East community members and groups.
2
As
discussed above, the impetus for the project itself
stemmed from a vocalized need by several commu-
nity members for more information about the differ-
ent opinions and desires of those not actively
attending planning meetings, as well as the more
theoretical interests of the authors in the processes of
amenity migration at work in the area. Thus in
addition to the mail survey, the project also included
a door-to-door survey (conducted prior to the mail
survey), approximately 70 videotaped semi-struc-
tured interviews with a cross-section of community
member types, and the creation of a documentary film
(based on the interviews), which was then shared in a
series of three public meetings where community
members discussed potential futures for the area in
small group sessions. Although we emphasize the
mail survey in this paper, we mention the larger
project here to place the survey in context and to note
that our interpretations of survey responses are
influenced by our lengthy and continuing involve-
ment in Down East communities.
In order to investigate the attitudes of Down East
residents, we surveyed a random sample of the
property-owning population in November 2008.
Carteret County tax assessor parcel data were
obtained for the Down East area, and after removing
parcels with no address or with public functions (i.e.,
schools, fire stations), twenty percent of parcels were
randomly sampled. These samples were geographi-
cally stratified by township, producing samples
proportional to the population size of each township.
We thus identified 1,070 addresses to survey out of
the approximately 5,300 total addresses Down East.
Surveys were administered following the Dillman
tailored design method (Dillman 2000). Surveys were
mailed in hand-addressed envelopes to the billing
address of each property identified. Follow-up mail-
ings included a reminder postcard sent one week after
the first mailing, and a second questionnaire sent
three weeks after the first. A self-addressed, stamped
envelope was included with each survey. After
accounting for duplicates and undeliverable surveys,
965 original surveys were received by landowners.
We asked respondents a variety of opinion ques-
tions regarding the character of their communities,
the pace and style of development, and their levels of
support for potential policy measures that could
affect the future of the area. We modeled the survey
after a similar instrument used in western North
Carolina, where Southern Appalachian communities
are also experiencing growth and development con-
flicts (Cumming et al. 2008). In this paper, we
analyze the mail survey results of several key Likert-
scale and open-ended questions about community,
culture, environment, and property rights, with par-
ticular attention to differences of opinion between
respondents with shorter- and longer-term connec-
tions to the region, a variable we label ‘generational
connection to Down East.’ For the Likert-scale
questions, we compute Chi-square values to test
2
The project design received input from a cross-section of
community members, including those on either side of the
moratorium debate.
90 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
whether such differences are statistically significant,
and we report the means in order to indicate the
direction of variation in responses by the different
groups.
3
For the open-ended questions, we report the
trends in responses in terms of the themes identified
through reading and coding the data.
In our statistical analysis, we divide respondents
into four generational connection categories: those
with no residential connection to Down East (i.e.,
absentee landholders), first generation residents (i.e.,
moved to Down East within their lifetime), second
generation residents, or those whose families have
resided Down East for three or more generations.
4
This
approach is unusual in the literature, where residents
are most often categorized as either ‘insiders’ or
‘outsiders.’ We go beyond these binary breakdowns
because related work by Cumming (2007) in other
rural North Carolina communities identified varied
generational connections to place to be a meaningful
metric and because our related research on grassroots
organizing in the face of development Down East
reveals no easy distinctions between ‘insiders’ and
‘outsiders’ (Campbell and Meletis, in review). We
believe the generational connections analysis gener-
ally provides a more nuanced look into the opinions of
the changing population Down East. However, we also
present our results in terms of a comparison between
full- and part-time residents and discuss where this is
also a useful measure.
Survey results
Statistical summary
A total of 483 mail surveys were completed and
returned, for a response rate of approximately
50%.
5
Table 1shows the demographic characteristics
of our survey sample. Our sample population is
somewhat older and more affluent than that of
Carteret County as a whole, in which the median
age is approximately 44 years and the median
household income is approximately $47,000 per year
(U.S. Census Bureau 2009). The higher average
income in our sample can be accounted for by the
inclusion of non-resident property owners (i.e., those
who own properties Down East but do not use them
as primary residences), who have significantly higher
incomes than all other categories of respondents
(Table 2). This difference in income is one of the
more striking differences among respondents.
Another substantial difference is the role of natural
resources in respondent livelihoods: as generational
connections to Down East lengthen, income levels
tend to decline and respondent livelihoods become
more frequently tied to the area’s natural resources
Table 1 Survey respondent demographics
Median age category 51–60 years
Median reported income $50,000–74,999
Median education level Some trade school
or community college
Survey completed by
Female 33%
Male 67%
Properties owned Down East
None 1%
One 59%
More than one 37%
Residential status
Full-time 58%
Part-time 42%
Generations lived Down East
0 (absentee owners) 17%
1 23%
28%
3 or more 52%
3
Although it is common practice in the social sciences to treat
Likert-scale questions as interval (numeric) data, here we treat
the Likert scale categories as nominal data (using the Chi-
square test to compare numbers of people in agreement with
particular statements) to avoid assuming that respondents
would all assign the same meanings or numerical weights to
the response categories ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to
‘strongly agree.’ However, we do report the means in order to
give an idea of the strength of opinions for each response.
4
These categories were the answer options to our survey
question ‘‘Including yourself, how many generations of your
family have lived Down East, either full-time or part-time?’’
5
Given the number of total addresses Down East, our sample
size of 483 produces a margin of error of approximately ±5%
at a 95% confidence level (Rea and Parker 2005). Non-
response among different groups of people was fairly even,
although Carteret County residents made up a slightly smaller
proportion of responses than would be expected. While 66% of
all surveys were mailed to Carteret County residents, they
comprised approximately 61% of responses.
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 91
123
(i.e., the longer the connection to Down East, the
more livelihoods are tied to local extractive industries
such as fishing). Table 2also reveals differences in
the ways that newer and more established residents
use the region’s fishery resources, with longer-
generation residents significantly more likely to fish
commercially and recent-generation residents signif-
icantly more likely to fish recreationally.
Overall, we found widespread agreement among
all generational categories with respect to basic
Likert-scale statements about cultural, community,
and environmental values. Table 3highlights a cross-
section of key survey questions we asked within these
categories. For the sake of comparison, Table 4
shows responses to the same questions analyzed by
part-time or full-time residential status instead of
focusing on generational categories. It is worth noting
that both types of analyses showed the same results
(in terms of demonstrating statistically significant or
non- significant differences between categories) for
each Likert-scale question in our survey, with the
exception of two questions. First, we did not find
significant differences between part-time and full-
time residents in terms of their belief that commu-
nities Down East should focus on preserving heritage
and culture, whereas we did find significant differ-
ences among generational categories with respect to
this question (for example, 89% of first-generation
Down East residents wished to preserve the heritage
there while 100% of second-generation residents
did). On the other hand, we found significant
differences between part-time and full-time residents
in terms of considering development inevitable Down
East (with 33% of full-timers versus 20% of part-
timers feeling development to be inevitable), whereas
we found no significant differences between gener-
ational categories with respect to their thoughts on
the inevitability of development.
6
The design of our survey questionnaire, which
included both Likert-scale and short-answer sections
addressing similar topics, allows for comparisons to
be made between the general attitudes of different
groups and their more explicit conceptualizations of
key terms and ideas. In the following sections we first
summarize the Likert-scale responses (Tables 3,4)
with respect to salient themes Down East and then
discuss evidence from the short-answer questions,
which often complicate the Likert-scale responses.
Heritage, culture, and community
In terms of Likert-scale responses regarding culture,
over 80% of respondents in all categories stated that
they appreciated the cultural heritage Down East, and
even higher numbers agreed that the area should
focus on preserving culture and heritage. Neverthe-
less, as noted above there were still statistically
Table 2 Characteristics of landowners Down East
Characteristic Generational connection to Down East Full sample
% true
pvalue
a
None %
true
One %
true
Two %
true
Three or
more % true
Live Down East full time 0
b
61 49 78 58 \.0001***
Live Down East part time 43 32 36 14 42 \.0001***
Engage in commercial fishing 4 7 15 24 16 \.0001***
Engage in recreational fishing 67 65 59 48 56 .0036**
Income is or was linked to Down East land or water resources 8 18 16 55 35 \.0001***
Have income of over $50,000/year 85 62 66 55 63 .0002***
a
p-values are derived from Pearson’s Chi-square test for significant differences between generational categories in terms of the
numbers for which each characteristic is true. Significance levels: * .05; ** .01; *** .001
b
Respondents who answered that they lived Down East full time but had no generational connection to Down East were grouped
with the first-generation residents
6
As a reviewer of this paper correctly pointed out, it is worth
keeping in mind that statistical significance does not necessar-
ily translate into practical significance (e.g., some of the
statistically significant differences we find with respect to
opinions on development and other issues may not necessarily
translate into different votes or other political actions).
92 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
significant differences between generational catego-
ries, with support for preserving culture and heritage
Down East higher among longer-generation residents.
We also found significant differences among survey
respondents in terms of whether or not they felt a part
of their community, with over 90% of full-timers and
third-generation residents feeling part of their com-
munity but less than 70% of shorter-generation
residents and only about half of part-timers feeling
a part of their community.
We also asked respondents to further describe
what they valued about the culture and heritage of
Down East. Specifically, we asked them to complete
the sentence ‘‘the most important part of Down East
heritage is’ There was widespread agreement by
all survey respondents that the key components of
Down East’s heritage are its people and its history of
water-related activities including fishing and boat-
building. People valued ‘‘living on and with the
water’’ (S#286), ‘‘the fishing history and boatbuild-
ing’’ (S#865), and ‘‘the tenacity of its people [who]
preserve and remember the past as well as try to
retain a working relationship with the water’’
(S#119). Similarly, people appreciated ‘‘having small
communities where everyone knows everyone and
gets along with each other’’ (S#999). There was often
a sense of loss associated with people’s comments
about the heritage of Down East. For one respondent,
Down East’s heritage was embodied in ‘‘the fishing
industry which years ago supported in Atlantic three
general stores, grills, pool halls and a theater—
imagine that!’’ (S#878). For another, it was the
‘locals with their ‘ways’ and speech which is all but
lost’’ (S#811). In addition, there was another group of
responses which identified the Down East ‘lifestyle’
as its most important heritage. While full- and part-
time residents commented in approximately equal
numbers on the lifestyle Down East, their interpre-
tations of what constituted the region’s lifestyle
differed. For full-timers, the lifestyle Down East was
about ‘‘pride and independence’’ (S#594) and the
‘freedom to do what you like’’ (S#274); while part-
timers valued the ‘‘rural coastal living’’ (S#544), the
‘laid back and conservation values’’ (S#615), and the
Table 3 Opinions about community, environment, and planning Down East
Opinion statement from survey Generational connection to Down East Full sample %
agree (Mean)
pvalue
c
None %
agree
a
(Mean)
b
One %
agree
(Mean)
Two %
agree
(Mean)
Three or more
% agree (Mean)
I am part of the community 36 (3.2) 69 (4.0) 65 (4.0) 91 (4.6) 75 (4.2) \.0001***
I believe the communities Down East should focus on
preserving culture and heritage
89 (4.3) 89 (4.4) 100 (4.7) 96 (4.7) 94 (4.6) .0062**
I am attracted to the beauty of the land and water here 98 (4.7) 99 (4.9) 100 (4.9) 98 (4.8) 98 (4.8) .5843
I would support policy measures to protect the natural
environment
95 (4.5) 93 (4.6) 100 (4.7) 93 (4.6) 93 (4.6) .3630
I would support measures to ensure enough
affordable housing
48 (3.4) 54 (3.6) 65 (3.8) 70 (3.9) 62 (3.7) .0013**
An individual should be able to do whatever
he or she wants with his or her property
64 (3.8) 53 (3.4) 57 (3.5) 75 (4.1) 67 (3.8) .0003***
The changes brought by development are inevitable;
we can’t do anything about them
23 (2.5) 23 (2.4) 22 (2.4) 32 (2.6) 28 (2.5) .2187
I would support land use zoning by the County 59 (3.5) 63 (3.6) 64 (3.5) 40 (3.0) 51 (3.3) .0001***
I would support incorporation (Down East
towns become municipalities)
42 (3.3) 56 (3.4) 50 (3.6) 50 (3.3) 50 (3.4) .3539
a
Combined percentage of affirmative responses (agree and strongly agree)
b
Likert scale used to calculate means: 1, strongly disagree; 2, disagree; 3, neutral; 4, agree; and 5, strongly agree
c
p-values are derived from Pearson’s Chi-square test for significant differences between generational categories in terms of the
numbers in agreement (agree and strongly agree) with each statement. Significance levels: * .05; ** .01; *** .001
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 93
123
ability to ‘‘see a different time/era’’ (S#301). Thus for
full-time residents, definitions of lifestyle tended to
be associated with self-sufficiency and ‘freedom,’
while for part-time residents the Down East lifestyle
was associated with the tranquility and ‘quaintness’
of the region.
Environment and natural resources
In terms of opinions about natural resources, all
respondents demonstrated a strong appreciation of the
land and water resources Down East on the Likert-
scale portion of the survey. Ninety-seven percent of
all respondents, with no significant differences
between generational groups or between full- and
part-timers, stated that they appreciated the natural
environment Down East. 98% were attracted by the
beauty of the area, and 93% claimed they would
support policy measures to protect the environment
Down East. In addition, 97% of respondents claimed
they would also support measures specifically aimed
at protecting water quality.
Despite the broad Likert-scale agreement regard-
ing the importance of the environment, we found a
range of views in the short answer section regarding
how people feel about nature Down East. When
asked to describe the natural environment Down East,
respondents demonstrated three primary viewpoints:
that it is beautiful and pristine; that it is fragile and in
need of protection; and that it is declining or being
destroyed by development. The most popular
response among all groups was that the nature Down
East is ‘‘too wonderful for words’’ (S#597), ‘‘breath-
takingly beautiful’’ (S#389), and ‘‘the most pristine
on the eastern seaboard’’ (S#854). On the other hand,
almost as many people felt that the nature Down East
is ‘‘not like it used to be’’ (S#278), ‘‘being destroyed’
(S#133), and ‘‘deteriorating because of pollution and
development’’ (S#903). In what is an indication of the
complexity of viewpoints, approximately propor-
tional numbers
7
of the different groups (part-timers,
full-timers, shorter- and longer-generation residents)
felt each way about the environment Down East.
However, part-time residents were disproportionately
more vocal about the necessity of obtaining
Table 4 Part-time and full-time resident opinions about community, environment, and planning Down East
Opinion Statement from Survey Part time or full time residential status
Part time %
agree
a
(mean)
b
Full time %
agree (mean)
Full sample %
agree (mean)
pvalue
c
I am part of the community 51 (3.8) 90 (4.5) 75 (4.2) \.0001***
I believe the communities Down East should
focus on preserving culture and heritage
94 (4.6) 93 (4.6) 94 (4.6) .5137
I am attracted to the beauty of the land and water here 99 (4.9) 98 (4.8) 98 (4.8) .2245
I would support policy measures to protect the
natural environment
95 (4.7) 92 (4.7) 93 (4.6) .1199
I would support measures to ensure enough affordable housing 56 (3.6) 67 (3.8) 62 (3.7) .0193*
An individual should be able to do whatever he or she wants
with his or her property
62 (4.4) 71 (4.5) 67 (3.8) .0498*
The changes brought by development are inevitable;
we can’t do anything about them
20 (2.2) 33 (2.7) 28 (2.5) .0028**
I would support land use zoning by the County 63 (3.5) 43 (3.1) 51 (3.3) \.0001***
I would support incorporation (Down East towns
become municipalities)
48 (3.4) 51 (3.4) 50 (3.4) .5490
a
Combined percentage of affirmative responses (agree and strongly agree)
b
Likert scale used to calculate means: 1, strongly disagree; 2, disagree; 3, neutral; 4, agree; and 5, strongly agree
c
p-values are derived from Pearson’s Chi-square test for significant differences between part-timers and full-timers in terms of the
numbers in agreement (agree and strongly agree) with each statement. Significance levels: * .05; ** .01; *** .001
7
Proportional to the total number of surveys returned by each
group.
94 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
protection for the natural environment. As one part-
timer put it, the nature Down East is ‘‘a unique and
beautiful treasure that should be protected’’ (S#129).
For multiple-generation Down East residents,
‘nature’ is often inseparable from the history and
culture of the region. This differs from how other
residents describe nature Down East. For example,
one multiple-generation resident explained that the
natural environment Down East was ‘‘pristine, abun-
dant, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, fishermen, fish-
ing, scalloping and crabbing and balancing the
environment’’ (S#1064). Another longtime resident
explained that nature Down East included ‘‘the
freedom to roam the land and Core Sound,’’
(S#365) and yet another noted that it was ‘‘still
viewed daily by the local families which depend on it
for their survival’’ (S#1165). This linking of envi-
ronment with the culture of fishing and related values
of independence is common among Down Easters
with lengthy generational connections to the region.
In contrast, many part-time residents view Down East
not as an integral part of their daily lives but rather as
an escape from ‘real’ life, an environment in contrast
to their typical work environments. As one part-timer
mentioned, Down East is ‘‘a great place to escape the
rat race’’ (S#556), and another described it as their
‘escape from the pressures of the West Coast’
(S#1096). A part-timer living elsewhere in North
Carolina called Down East ‘‘a total escape from the
industrial and business sections of the state’’ (S#696).
For some, therefore, the landscape Down East is a
component of daily life- part of a familiar routine
which might include earning a living; while for others
it represents a type of escape or haven.
Property, planning, and development
In the Likert-scale portion of the survey we found
significant differences in the strength of people’s
feelings about the importance of private property, with
full-time residents and those with longer generational
connections to Down East demonstrating the strongest
desires to maintain control over private property. For
instance, 75% of third-generation residents claimed
that an individual should be able to do whatever he or
she wants to his or her property while only 53% of first-
generation residents agreed. The strength of agreement
here was also substantially greater among third-
generation residents than first-generation residents
(Table 3). Those with no generational connection to
Down East expressed higher agreement with the notion
that an individual should have free reign over one’s
property than either first- or second-generation resi-
dents. This may reflect the fact that some absentee
owners have not yet developed their Down East
properties and thus may be wary of potential land-use
regulations.
In terms of land use and planning questions, all
groups expressed dissatisfaction with the existing
Carteret County Board of Commissioners. Only 14%
of survey respondents felt the Commissioners were
doing a good job of regulating development Down
East, while 92% felt that the public should have a role
in developing land use guidelines for Down East. With
respect to specific regulatory tools, however, responses
were mixed. Only about half of all survey respondents
supported incorporation or zoning as potential land-use
planning measures. Furthermore, we found significant
differences among community members with respect
to zoning, with third-generation and full-time residents
significantly less likely to support zoning than part-
time residents or those with shorter generational
connections to Down East. At the same time, full-time
residents were significantly more likely to believe that
development Down East was inevitable. On the other
hand, full-timers and multi-generation residents were
more likely to support policy measures aimed at
ensuring affordable housing in the area. In addition,
79% of survey respondents stated that they would
support policy measures to ensure that new develop-
ment ‘fits in’ with the way Down East looks.
With respect to specific land uses, we asked survey
respondents to describe in their own words what
types of development they would or would not want
to see in the future of Down East (i.e., ‘‘development
I [would/would not] like to see Down East
includes’). There was substantial common ground
regarding development people did not want to see
Down East-the overwhelming majority of responses
from all groups singled out condominiums or high-
rise hotels and apartments as something they abso-
lutely did not want to see in the region. Respondents
expressed fear that they would ‘‘become like Bogue
Bankers’
8
(S#431) if high-rise complexes were
8
An area of Carteret County substantially developed with
condominium complexes, many of which are owned as
vacation properties.
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 95
123
developed in the region. In other areas responses
were quite varied, with segments of all groups
supporting limited development that would ‘‘provide
jobs and stimulate the local economy but not to the
point that locals cannot afford to live there or natural
beauty is compromised’’ (S#509). When asked what
they would like to see generally in the future Down
East, many respondents called for more employment
options and ‘‘permanent people mooring in that
support our schools and churches’’ (S#1027). About
35 people explicitly wanted Down East to maintain
its status quo, but similar numbers called for some
kind of planning to guide future development. One
respondent wanted to see ‘‘more interest in preserving
our heritage by both local residents and county/state
government’’ (S#353), and another wanted ‘‘more say
in how the changes are planned for’’ (S#258). These
answers highlights the heterogeneity of the commu-
nities Down East in the many opinions for how its
future should unfold; opinions which in this case
were not easily differentiated by particular demo-
graphic groups.
Given that Harkers Island is the community Down
East that has seen the greatest amount of concen-
trated new development over the past decade, we
asked respondents to fill in the sentence ‘‘Harkers
Island is’ There were three major themes in terms
of how people described Harkers Island, each of
which received similar numbers of responses
(between 70 and 100 each). The first set of responses
described the island in glowing terms, as a wonderful
and unique place that many call home. People
described Harkers Island as ‘‘a charming, quaint
community’’ (S#950), ‘‘a jewel in Carteret County’
(S#253), and ‘‘paradise on earth’’ (S#306). Slightly
more part-timers than would be expected proportion-
ally described Harkers Island in these terms. As one
part-time resident noted, Harkers Island is ‘‘an
attractive area for retirement with growing needs
for boating access’’ (S#809) and another described it
as ‘‘my home (future) and the place I would most
like to see preserved’’ (S#513). The second set of
comments described Harkers Island in very different
terms, primarily as overcrowded or overdeveloped.
Here, slightly more full-timers describe it in these
terms than would be expected proportionally. In
contrast to the idyllic scenes described above, these
responses called Harkers Island ‘‘overdeveloped and
poorly developed’’ (S#1129), ‘‘getting built up and
expensive’’ (S#852), and ‘‘changing fast due to
pressures of real estate development and traffic’’
(S#353). One full-time resident explained that it was
‘my home but it has become too crowded with
people I don’t know’’ and another claimed it was
‘too full of dingbatters’’
9
(S#789). These diverse
responses highlight the different perspectives that
various generational and residential groups bring to
their experience Down East.
The third theme in responses about Harkers Island
was more extreme and centered around Harkers
Island as the example to avoid- the epitome of
development ‘gone wrong’ Down East. These com-
ments describe development there as a ‘tragic exam-
ple’ of what could follow for the rest of Down East.
Over two-thirds of those utilizing the tragedy narra-
tive were full-time residents, and their opinions were
very strongly expressed. A number of comments
focused on the loss of local culture and the feeling
that the area was being essentially sold to wealthy
outsiders. Harkers Island was depicted by these
residents as ‘‘becoming a rich man’s island’
(S#193), ‘‘turning into a place to visit but not live
in’’ (S#869), and ‘‘an example of what happens when
the local culture is sold to the highest bidder’
(S#252). Similarly, others described it as ‘‘gone to
money people’’ (S#1003) and ‘‘a good example of
how immigrants can destroy (buy) your way of life’
(S#987). One resident stated starkly that Harkers
Island ‘‘has moved to McCabe’s trailer park’’
10
(S#1045). The real bitterness underlying these com-
ments reflects not just concerns about development
itself, but what some longtime Down East residents
see as a co-opting of their culture and a resentment at
being priced out of the most desirable real estate
Down East.
Discussion
A key motivation in conducting this research was to
understand some of the attitudes and values underlying
past development conflicts Down East (such as the
moratorium debate) as well as to explore what different
residents desired for the future of the area. We sought to
9
People who were not born Down East; outsiders.
10
A mobile home park in mainland Down East.
96 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
do this within a framework that would help us to
understand how people’s attitudes were related to their
demographic status and how residents of Down East
might exhibit similar or different attitudes from
residents in other areas experiencing amenity migra-
tion. In this section, we discuss our findings in relation
to the existing literature, first with respect to how key
amenities are conceptualized Down East and then in
terms of residents’ aspirations for the future.
Interpreting amenities
The structure of our survey was particularly useful in
analyzing the differences between broad support for
key concepts and individual understandings or inter-
pretations of those concepts. It enabled us to probe
the notion of slippage, where different meanings may
be applied by groups of people to a single concept or
term (Cadieux 2010). Overall we found that slippage
was common, particularly in people’s interpretations
of the environment and culture Down East. Divergent
interpretations sometimes—but not always—aligned
with key demographic categories.
Down East respondents’ interpretations of ‘envi-
ronment,’ for instance, complicate our existing
knowledge about how different resident types inter-
pret their surroundings. Our finding that all respondent
categories held similar broad appreciation for the
natural resources Down East agrees with several
studies which also found that newcomers and old-
timers alike place similar values on the natural
resources of a particular area (Fortmann and Kusel
1990; McBeth and Foster 1994; Smith and Krannich
2000; Brehm et al. 2004). The open-response portion
of our survey allowed us to see, however, that in fact
there were several distinct interpretations of the
condition of the environment Down East (ranging
from ‘pristine’ to ‘destroyed’) which were not asso-
ciated with one demographic group or another. In
other words, there were clear differences in the
interpretation of the state of ‘nature’ Down East
which could not be ascribed to a person’s migrant
status. This differs, for instance, from the distinct
discourses found in the American West where in-
migrants have generally labeled the environment as
‘threatened’ while locals have disputed these claims
(Walker and Fortmann 2003; Walker and Hurley
2004). The different perceptions of the ‘state’ of the
environment might impact on any attempts to
implement policies to protect the environment, even
though support for such policies in general are shared.
We did find differences between demographic
groups in terms of how they are currently using the
natural resources Down East and how they believe
such resources should be used in the future. For
example, over 55% of third-generation resident
incomes are directly linked to the natural resources
Down East, while less than 20% of each of the other
groups’ incomes involve natural resources. Further,
new residents are more likely to use Down East’s
natural resources recreationally (e.g., as with fishing)
while longer-generation residents are more likely to
use them commercially. These findings agree with
similar studies highlighting that long-term residents’
livelihoods are often more closely linked to the
productivity of an area’s natural resources (while
newcomers are more inclined to recreate in them)
(Hurley and Halfacre 2010; Klepeis et al. 2009; Scott
et al. 2010; Sheridan 2001; Walker and Fortmann
2003). These current uses are perhaps linked to the
more ‘productivist’ versus more ‘consumptivist’ atti-
tudes we find between longer-generation residents and
others, particularly part-time residents. Indeed, chang-
ing economic patterns in rural areas can produce rifts
between segments of communities employed in
‘productivist’ versus ‘post-productivist’ sectors
(McCarthy 2008). Longer-generation residents’ ten-
dency to mix references to both ‘environmental’ (e.g.,
clean water, sunsets) and ‘cultural’ (e.g., family
gatherings, fishing) activities when discussing the
environment Down East suggests a more ‘productiv-
ist’ or use-oriented mindset among this group. When
contrasted with the tendency of some (though not all)
part-time residents to characterize the region as an
escape from reality, some of the tensions with respect
to land and water uses Down East become more
understandable. Similar to the way longtime residents
of Wales, UK feel regarding the loss of productive
agricultural lands (Scott et al. 2010), many multi-
generational residents Down East also express anxiety
about the perceived loss of an active fishing industry
and diminished water access. Thus, added to differing
perceptions of the state of the environment are
different ideas of how such environments are used.
And these, we find, are often linked to historical ties to
the area and ideas of culture.
As with the notion of environment, some of the
basic characteristics of Down East ‘culture’ were
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 97
123
generally agreed upon by different demographic
groups, but the more daily lives and activities were
discussed, the more slippage we found in the concept.
For instance, we found distinctly different interpre-
tations of the ‘lifestyle’ Down East. Here again, these
interpretations largely aligned with more productivist
versus more consumptivist perspectives. While all
groups shared a general narrative about Down East as
having a fishing- and water-oriented culture, when
making specific comments part-time residents tended
to describe the culture Down East in more consump-
tivist (and static) terms. Whereas full-timers often
discussed the Down East lifestyle in terms of work or
other interactions with the water, part-timers were
more likely to describe it in terms that evoked a sense
of separation or viewing distance, for instance as
‘quaint’ or charming. While subtle, these differences
nevertheless help us understand how broadly-pro-
claimed desires to preserve Down East heritage may
mask important variations in how this heritage is
interpreted. For some, environment as a concept is
inseparable to its long history of use and to cultural
identity. For others, environment and culture are
more easily separable.
Our findings reinforce that amenity migrant com-
munities are heterogeneous (Gosnell and Abrams
2010; Nelson 1997; Nesbitt and Weiner 2001), but
that distinct discourses about salient concepts, such as
‘environment’ and ‘culture,’ are identifiable. In most
cases, we found discursive differences Down East to
be aligned with differences in respondents’ residency
or generational status. However, those demographic
characteristics did not prove consistently reliable in
predicting respondent perspectives. These findings
suggest that thoroughly characterizing the competing
discourses in amenity migration communities may be
more valuable than working to associate those
discourses with particular demographic groups.
Aspirations
Given their constructions of environment and culture,
what are some of the aspirations of different commu-
nity members? This is a key first question for amenity
migrant communities in terms of thinking about how
to structure future planning efforts (Walker 2010). In
Down East, people’s aspirations for the future are
directly tied to the changes occurring there today. As
we saw with questions about environment and culture,
there was substantial overlap among all groups with
respect to what they claimed they would like to see in
the future (i.e., better employment options, perhaps
some more residential development but without
condominiums or high-rises). Once again, however,
when specific places or particular actions are consid-
ered, residents’ opinions become more precise and the
cultural and class tensions associated with a changing
landscape Down East become clearer. This is most
obvious with respect to opinions about development
on Harkers Island, where we found a deep well of
resentment among a segment of the full-time residents
Down East toward the development they saw as
changing the character of the island and pricing locals
out of the area.
The unease felt by some Down East community
members toward Harkers Island, and development in
general, is linked to disparities in wealth and differing
ideas about the types of productive and consumptive
activities that should occur in the region. In Down
East it is the residents with the longest generational
connections to the area who have the lowest incomes,
agreeing with studies in the American West and U.K.
where in-migrants have also been shown to be
generally wealthier than long-term residents (Ghose
2004;Lo
¨ffler and Steinicke 2006; Smith 2002). This
situation highlights a problem with uneven develop-
ment that is one of the key issues with amenity
migration (Sayre 2010). Indeed, the development on
Harkers Island is increasingly becoming expensive
development only accessible to outside capital- there
are very few jobs Down East that could finance a new
three-story waterfront home. These new patterns of
growth in wealthy amenity migrant areas raise
questions about how traditional productive practices
are being integrated with amenity consumption, and
what tradeoffs are involved between the two pro-
cesses (Cadeiux and Hurley 2010). In several areas of
Harkers Island, for instance, residents have already
witnessed the transformation of open-access water-
front and working harbor area to closed shoreline and
recreational boat docks. Overall in Down East,
longtime resident concerns about new residents
moving into expensive subdivisions are closely
intertwined with anxieties about these tradeoffs as
well as economic and employment uncertainties (i.e.,
the future of the fishing industry), concerns about
career options for younger generations, and feelings
of cultural and environmental losses.
98 GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101
123
Given people’s varying opinions with respect to
existing development and their concerns about the
future, specific attitudes toward planning Down East
are also important to consider. Unlike many other
areas experiencing amenity migration where planners
and public officials are very involved in a particular
region (with either positive or negative effects)
(Johnson et al. 2009; Scott et al. 2010; Walker and
Fortmann 2003), local government appears largely
disengaged with Down East. Other than officiating
the moratorium debate (which was initiated by a
group of Down East residents), the county govern-
ment has shown little interest in hosting community
forums or engaging in any sort of comprehensive
planning in the region. At the same time, the idea of
planning is an extremely complex issue for Down
East residents themselves. Although as noted above,
92% of respondents believe the public should have a
role in developing land use guidelines Down East—
and people have very distinct opinions about what
types of development they would or would not like to
see in the region—there are also strong anti-planning,
anti-government feelings in the area (particularly
among full-time residents). This internal conflict is
recognized by many residents, who will often in the
same breath lament the out-of-character development
occurring Down East while affirming the rights of
property owners to do as they please with their land.
It is then somewhat ironic that ideas of planning and
zoning are more supported by newcomers and part-
time residents, who are most responsible for changes
in the character of the area. This trend is in contrast to
what Jobes (2000) found in Montana, where oldti-
mers were more supportive of planning than new-
comers, but is similar to what Walker and Fortmann
(2003) found in the Sierra Nevada where newcomers
were more pro-planning and anti-development than
locals.
Conclusion
Researching the phenomenon of amenity migration
involves examining how conceptualizations of land-
scape, nature, and culture combine and are mani-
fested in particular places (Gosnell and Abrams 2010;
Walker 2010; Yung and Belsky 2007). At the same
time, it is imperative to pay attention to how these
conceptualizations are interlinked with people’s
livelihoods and with local, regional, and larger
economic structures. Indeed, studies of amenity
migration should explore how amenity consumption
and resource production are being integrated, and
what tradeoffs are involved between the two for
different actors in a community (Cadieux and Hurley
2010). In Down East, the confluence of particular
understandings of heritage and landscape, rural
livelihood uncertainty, and population losses in the
midst of increased residential development have
helped to create the multidimensional (and some-
times conflicting) geographical imaginaries of heter-
ogenous community members. These conceptual
frameworks then influence how particular individuals
interact with the land- and seascapes Down East, both
through their personal resource use and through their
support for (or opposition to) different forms of
resource governance.
In thinking about the implications of these differ-
ent imaginaries and actions, it may be useful to return
explicitly to the concept of space. As Smith (1984,
p. 116) notes, ‘‘this society no longer accepts space as
a container, but produces it; we do not live, act, and
work ‘in’ space so much as by living, acting, and
working we produce space.’’ In this sense, amenity
migrants are creating new spaces, spaces that are
experienced and interpreted differently by diverse
members of particular communities. As our survey
showed, the residential or generational status of
different community members can provide clues to
how they might think about and interact with these
spaces, but they are not easy predictors of individual
or collective attitudes and actions. These must be
discerned through careful attention to the multiple
circulating discourses of a place. Since ‘‘every
discourse says something about a space (places or
sets of places); and every discourse is emitted from a
space,’’ such discourses can help us untangle the
complex processes and problems of amenity migra-
tion (Lefebvre 1991, p. 132). Indeed, the challenge
for researchers is to identify the unique spaces from
which discourses originate (and about which they
speak) and to relate these discourses to the particular
socioeconomic and political changes occurring in an
amenity migrant region.
Acknowledgments This research was funded by North
Carolina Sea Grant and the Duke University Marine Lab, and
Meletis’ participation was supported by the University of
GeoJournal (2012) 77:83–101 99
123
Northern British Columbia. We are grateful to the many
volunteers who assisted with administering our survey: Sean
Crowder, Caroline Good, Bill Herring, Alice Ren, Katherine
Straus, Lori Troutman, and Danielle Waples. We thank Myriah
Cornwell, Amy Freitag, Nicholas Mallos, and Cristina
Villanueva for comments on an early draft. We especially
acknowledge the interest and support of a number of people
Down East who have provided guidance throughout the
project, in particular Karen Amspacher and Gail Cannon.
Finally, we thank the many people who completed and returned
our survey.
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... Fishery allocation questions between recreational and commercial groups have a lengthy history, and are becoming increasingly heated in the US as historic (often rural) commercial fishing communities struggle to compete financially while facing increasing recreational fishing tourism and coastal infrastructure changes (Boucquey 2016;Boucquey et al. 2012;Campbell and Meletis 2011;Finewood 2012;B. J. Garrity-Blake 1996;Schittone 2001;. ...
... I suggest that understanding these moral economies is critical given the real political and economic consequences for who gets to access fishery spaces and species, particularly given current pushes for ocean planning and fears about fish stocks. This analysis confirms that game fish arguments regularly spill over into political debates about rights to coastal access and development (Boucquey et al. 2012;May 2013May , 2015. The paper advances theoretical conversations about the role of moral economies in 'first world' settings, extends political ecology discussions of exurban landscape changes to ocean settings, and supports a need to find areas of policy compromise before power differentials grow increasingly hard to contain. ...
... The expansions in recreational uses of North Carolina's coasts and seascapes have simultaneously contributed to declines in commercial fishing spaces and activities. Similar to amenity migration processes elsewhere (e.g., Finewood 2012; Gosnell and Abrams 2011;Walker and Hurley 2004;Walker and Fortmann 2003), amenity migrants in this region have driven up property values and built comparatively lavish homes (Boucquey et al. 2012;Campbell and Meletis 2011). Like ranchers out west, fishermen over the last twenty years have found themselves in an increasingly 'cash poor, land rich' situation (Brogden and Greenberg 2003;Walker and Fortmann 2003;Walker and Hurley 2004). ...
Article
This paper uses a moral economy lens, further informed by political ecology, to explore social and political relationships between fishing groups. Understanding resource user groups’ moral economy discourses is critical given their potential influence on policy choices, and the real political and economic consequences of differential access to resources. This is particularly true for fishery resource access given current pushes for ocean planning and fears about the health of global fish stocks. Using a North Carolina case study of conflict over ‘game fish’ (fish reserved exclusively for recreational use), the paper explains how arguments over the material use of fishery resources, claims over ocean space, and ideas about the role of fish as a commodity fit into fishers’ larger moral economies. In doing so, it discusses fishers’ differing definitions of key concepts—like value, waste, and public resources—and how these divergent understandings contribute to miscommunication and conflict. This analysis finds that particular interpretations of ‘wise’ resource use have real consequences not only for specific people and communities but also for how political institutions demarcate the realm of possibilities for resource-use policies. The paper advances theoretical conversations about the role of moral economies in ‘first world’ locales and extends political ecology discussions of exurban landscape changes to ocean settings.
... The robust literature on amenity migration has identified sharp difference between multigenerational residents of a place and newcomers (Boucquey et al. 2012;Kondo et al. 2012;Ooi et al. 2015). In-migrants are generally wealthier and more educated than long-term residents (Falk and Lyson 1988). ...
... In similar contexts, long-term residents of a place have emphasized and prioritized the productive value of the landscape while newcomers focused on amenity values (McLeod et al. 1999;Cadieux 2011;Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012). Other analyses have also indicated that multigenerational residents link place and environment not only to livelihood but also to identity and culture. ...
... Other livelihood links to the environment can also be influential, with species that are used for timber or crafting appearing differentially. Consistent with findings elsewhere that multigenerational residents emphasize the productive value of a landscape, while newer residents may prefer non-extractive values (Cadieux 2011;Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012), multigenerational residents of Southern Appalachia seem oriented toward useful species and toward continuing traditional uses of species that may be overlooked by newcomers. Newcomers, on the other hand, focus more often on species of beauty and species that are linked to their recreational pursuits, such as hiking and birding. ...
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This paper examines how residents of Southern Appalachia observe changes in their natural environment, the values that they assign to plants and animals in that environment, and their understandings and explanations of environmental change. We use semi-structured interviews and participant observation to determine that multigenerational residents and newcomers to the region are observing and noting change in different components of the environment and that they have different determinations of both the causes and likely consequences of that change. While multigenerational residents focus their observation and commentary on staple crops and culturally-important species, newcomers to the area concentrate on species related to recreational pursuits, giving each group insights into different aspects of environmental change. These findings are translated into recommendations for more inclusive and effective environmental and conservation planning.
... The place attachment of NCs (defined by these authors as those living in the community for less than seven years) is based on lifestyle desires whereas LTRs rooted their place attachment in their family and shared community history. Boucquey et al. (2012) reach a similar conclusion. Those who had lived in a rural coastal region of North Carolina for more than one generation could not separate the local environment from the community's shared history and culture. ...
... This problem is not restricted to a single study. For instance, Boucquey et al. (2012) and Park et al. (2019) each use a similar question structure and find similar results. ...
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Rural residents in the United States do not always agree on local development priorities, yet understanding and accounting for their preferences is a step towards more effective and equitable community development. We use survey data spanning different types of rural Intermountain West communities to gauge residents' preference weights for economic and environmental rural development goals. Given that community tenure and age are often related to development preferences, respondents are divided into three groups based on these factors using a classification tree approach. Long‐term residents (>36 percent of life spent in the community) have the strongest economic preferences, while older newcomers have the strongest environmental preferences. The Leti heterogeneity index reveals that long‐term residents also displayed the greatest homogeneity of preferences. Ordered probit analysis shows that goal preferences are also related to sex, education, household income, community financial security, and the share of county income derived from wealth assets. These findings provide a more nuanced and methods‐based understanding of residential tenure in a community and its relationship to development attitudes across a variety of rural place types, all valuable information for rural community and economic development practitioners.
... Amenity migration affects ecosystems through land subdivision, development, and changes in private land use, as well as through effects on governance and cultural values (Abrams et al. 2012). It also often generates social segregation or discord between long-term residents and newcomers (Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;Cockerill and Groothuis 2014;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001). Some residents of Western North Carolina are concerned that more significant climatic change in other parts of the Southeast may lead to a new wave of in-migration, prompting further development, environmental degradation, and social division (Rice et al. 2015). ...
... A second impact of these economic and demographic changes is a growing diversity of viewpoints on social and ecological issues (Gosnell and Abrams 2011;Gustafson et al. 2014;Jones et al. 2003). The environment, concepts of nature, and what constitutes suitable forms of development can be hotly contested in this region, with newcomers and multigenerational residents frequently finding themselves on opposing sides (Cockerill and Groothuis 2014;for other regions, see Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;McLeod et al. 1999;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001;Ryan 1998). However, there is also precedent for newcomers bringing organizational and political skills that enable collaboration with longtime residents around shared concerns (Fortmann and Kusel 1990;Jobes 2000). ...
... Amenity migration affects ecosystems through land subdivision, development, and changes in private land use, as well as through effects on governance and cultural values (Abrams et al. 2012). It also often generates social segregation or discord between long-term residents and newcomers (Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;Cockerill and Groothuis 2014;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001). Some residents of Western North Carolina are concerned that more significant climatic change in other parts of the Southeast may lead to a new wave of in-migration, prompting further development, environmental degradation, and social division (Rice et al. 2015). ...
... A second impact of these economic and demographic changes is a growing diversity of viewpoints on social and ecological issues (Gosnell and Abrams 2011;Gustafson et al. 2014;Jones et al. 2003). The environment, concepts of nature, and what constitutes suitable forms of development can be hotly contested in this region, with newcomers and multigenerational residents frequently finding themselves on opposing sides (Cockerill and Groothuis 2014;for other regions, see Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;McLeod et al. 1999;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001;Ryan 1998). However, there is also precedent for newcomers bringing organizational and political skills that enable collaboration with longtime residents around shared concerns (Fortmann and Kusel 1990;Jobes 2000). ...
Book
This book explores how individuals and communities perceive and understand climate change using their observations of change in the world around them. Because processes of climatic change operate at spatial and temporal scales that differ from those of everyday practice, the phenomenon can be difficult to understand. However, flora and fauna, which are important natural and cultural resources for human communities, do respond to the pressures of environmental change. Humans, in turn, observe and adapt to those responses, even when they may not understand their causes. Much of the discussion about human experiences of our changing climate centers on disasters and extreme events, but we argue that a focus on the everyday, on the microexperiences of change, has the advantage of revealing how people see, feel, and make sense of climate change in their own lives. The chapters of this book are drawn from Asia, Europe, Africa, and South and North America. They use ethnographic inquiry to understand local knowledge and perceptions of climate change and the social and ecological changes inextricably intertwined with it. Together, they illustrate the complex process of coming to know climate change, show some of the many ways that climate change and our responses to it inflict violence, and point to promising avenues for moving toward just and authentic collaborative responses.
... Amenity migration affects ecosystems through land subdivision, development, and changes in private land use, as well as through effects on governance and cultural values (Abrams et al. 2012). It also often generates social segregation or discord between long-term residents and newcomers (Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;Cockerill and Groothuis 2014;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001). Some residents of Western North Carolina are concerned that more significant climatic change in other parts of the Southeast may lead to a new wave of in-migration, prompting further development, environmental degradation, and social division (Rice et al. 2015). ...
... A second impact of these economic and demographic changes is a growing diversity of viewpoints on social and ecological issues (Gosnell and Abrams 2011;Gustafson et al. 2014;Jones et al. 2003). The environment, concepts of nature, and what constitutes suitable forms of development can be hotly contested in this region, with newcomers and multigenerational residents frequently finding themselves on opposing sides (Cockerill and Groothuis 2014; for other regions, see Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;McLeod et al. 1999;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001;Ryan 1998). However, there is also precedent for newcomers bringing organizational and political skills that enable collaboration with longtime residents around shared concerns (Fortmann and Kusel 1990;Jobes 2000). ...
Chapter
Marine fisheries in the Caribbean are vulnerable to a wide range of environmental and climatic change impacts. Direct and indirect effects of these impacts on fish species affect the ability of fishers to harvest them resulting in reductions in revenue and food security. Understanding factors impacting and transforming fisheries from the viewpoint of the fishers is crucial for developing adequate strategies to maximize coastal communities’ resilience and adaptation to change, particularly under future climate change scenarios. This study uses qualitative and quantitative data collected from 212 surveys with Puerto Rican fishers to explore aspects of fishers’ subjective perceptions of environmental and climate change and investigate factors influencing these perceptions. Our findings show that fishers perceive the local environment and climate to have undergone significant changes in the past couple of decades and they believe these changes have been affecting the fishery and consequentially leading them to adapt. Adaptations to these impacts, which consist mostly of seeking new fishing grounds, have led them to increase their exposure to risks, particularly among SCUBA divers fishing in deeper waters and farther away from the coast. Results also show important relationships between fishers’ perceptions of the status of fishery resources, demographics, levels of environmental awareness, and concern about climate change. These findings have significant implications for the development of policy and educational strategies aimed at increasing sustainability and well-being in fishing communities.
... Amenity migration affects ecosystems through land subdivision, development, and changes in private land use, as well as through effects on governance and cultural values (Abrams et al. 2012). It also often generates social segregation or discord between long-term residents and newcomers (Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;Cockerill and Groothuis 2014;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001). Some residents of Western North Carolina are concerned that more significant climatic change in other parts of the Southeast may lead to a new wave of in-migration, prompting further development, environmental degradation, and social division (Rice et al. 2015). ...
... A second impact of these economic and demographic changes is a growing diversity of viewpoints on social and ecological issues (Gosnell and Abrams 2011;Gustafson et al. 2014;Jones et al. 2003). The environment, concepts of nature, and what constitutes suitable forms of development can be hotly contested in this region, with newcomers and multigenerational residents frequently finding themselves on opposing sides (Cockerill and Groothuis 2014;for other regions, see Abrams et al. 2012;Boucquey et al. 2012;Cadieux 2011;McLeod et al. 1999;Nesbitt and Weiner 2001;Ryan 1998). However, there is also precedent for newcomers bringing organizational and political skills that enable collaboration with longtime residents around shared concerns (Fortmann and Kusel 1990;Jobes 2000). ...
Chapter
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Projections of climate change, biodiversity loss, and associated socioeconomic impacts are increasingly dire. In this volume, we turn our attention from the spectacular scenes of climate disruption to the slow and subtle, the small but consequential shifts in the species and landscapes that we humans interact with on a constant basis. This introductory chapter offers an analytical framework for the chapters that follow. Synthesizing lessons from environmental anthropology, we argue that microexperiences of change offer a critical but neglected lens for understanding the Anthropocene as a new geological, cultural, and political era. Focusing on microexperiences allows us to examine how individuals and communities are experiencing climate change in intimately meaningful ways, how they are constructing knowledge based on these experiences, and how that knowledge shapes their responses. This in turn provides unique insights into the diverse ways that people are embedded in their environments; the dynamics of differentiation, inequality, and violence that result from that; and how these affect knowledge, denialism, and climate responses. Perhaps most importantly, examining climate change at the resolution of microexperiences has the advantage of showing us change where many people—perhaps especially those whose livelihoods, social relations, and cultures are most intimately linked to the environment—see it, feel it, and make sense of it. Careful analysis and appreciation of these microexperiences and the resulting knowledge systems may therefore broaden the foundation for shared understanding and collaborative action to address climate change in an inclusive and effective manner.
... This double move highlights the power of narrative frames to define what is logical and true for a particular group (Dryzek 2005). These narratives are also echoed in physical transformations of the coastline, where increasing numbers of recreational fishers live in newly-constructed housing developments, which have contributed to rising property costs and the flight of historic commercial fishing families inland (Boucquey 2017;Boucquey et al. 2012). These changes extend to the seascape as well, where new developments have shifted the character of local harbors and reduced public water access (Jamouneau and Hibbs 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article responds to recent calls for more engagement from political ecologists in ocean and coastal governance concerns, and employs a controversy over the practice of gill netting in North Carolina as a lens into questions about how narratives of nature and power affect fisheries policymaking processes. The article analyzes commercial and recreational fisher narratives about marine 'nature,' including perceptions of resource health, expressions of blame or responsibility, and storylines about the different roles of fishers and managers in the process of governing fisheries. The article focuses particularly on how fishers perceive the politics of fisheries management and where they believe power lies in negotiations about the 'right' ways to steward and allocate fishery resources. Fisher narratives are then compared to those of fishery regulators themselves. The article asks how the perceptions of different groups about politics and power in fisheries management affect their levels of trust and engagement with each other and with the policymaking process. It offers insights into the complex negotiations over the meaning of terms like 'conservation,' 'endangered,' and 'livelihood,' and analyzes the implications of these narratives for stimulating material changes in the coastal seascape and the lives of fishers. Key Words: political ecology, governance, fisheries, nature, narrative analysis
Chapter
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Climate change and exurban development present significant social, economic, and environmental challenges in Southern Appalachia. Addressing those challenges—whether to prevent them, mitigate them, or prepare for them—will require individual action and collective action at community and regional scales. However, the coordination necessary for such action will be difficult to achieve in a region long opposed to regulation, suspicious of newcomers, and characterized by increasing social diversity. One particularly salient difference that is likely to shape collective responses to climate change is the distinction between “newcomers” and “multigenerationals,” descendants of people who have lived in the region for generations. In this chapter, we draw on nearly 80 interviews to address three questions: What indicators and consequences of climate change do people observe in their everyday lives and view as relevant? How does one’s connection to this landscape shape the indicators and consequences they observe and care about? And what differences exist in how people theorize the causes of climate change? By examining this diversity of climate knowledges and climate cultures in Southern Appalachia, we hope to identify complementarities, bridges, and provocations that might help natural resource managers and community members identify effective and inclusive responses to climate change.
Chapter
In 1969, South Carolina state officials announced plans to develop a BASF petrochemical factory near Hilton Head Island. However, local residents—both white and African American—mobilized a national campaign against the factory, eventually resulting in the withdrawal of the plans. Over time, the narrative of “BASF’s defeat” has become an important part of the region’s historiography, often presented as both a symbolic victory of stakeholders defeating special interests, as well as the unique and strong character of local environmental concerns. Importantly, too, the factory’s defeat shifted the regional political economy away from heavy industry toward the kind of exurban development that began on Hilton Head in the 1960s and continues today. In this chapter, we discuss this event and the place in which it occurred—Southern Beaufort County—to consider the role of historiography and narrative in exurban politics. Specifically, we explore discourses that have emerged from the defeat of the BASF factory to understand the way past events shape today’s landscape and normalize the vision and materialization of amenity-based development. Thus, we argue that the often taken-for-granted BASF moral narrative is mobilized as part of a broader discourse that legitimates a pattern of unequal geography on the development landscape of Southern Beaufort County, South Carolina.
Book
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Places with perceived high environmental quality and distinctive culture are globally attracting amenity migrants. This book describes and analyses rural amenity migration and its challenges and opportunities, focusing on its manifestation in mountain areas. The planning for and management of this societal movement is also discussed. The book's chapters cover the subject through case studies at international, regional and local levels, along with overarching themes, such as environmental impact, sustainability and equity, new and earlier settlers in community socio-cultural change, political-economic change, mountain recreation users, and local housing. Crucial issues addressed include the relationship of amenity migration to tourism, and related in-migration motivated by economic gain. Part I (chapters 1-3) describes and analyses key aspects of the amenity migration phenomenon that arch across specific place experiences, while chapters 4-20 are organized geographically, covering amenity migration in the Americas (part II), in Europe (part III), and in the Asia Pacific region (part IV). Chapter 21 brings the volume’s information together and focuses on the future of amenity-led migration.
Article
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The cultural and political implications of landscape change and urban growth in the western U.S. are well-documented. However, comparatively little scholarship has examined the effects of urbanization on sense of place in the southern U.S. We contribute to the literature on competing place meanings with a case study from the rural "Sewee to Santee" region of northern Charleston County, SC. Our research highlights conflicting cultural, environmental, and racial politics and their roles in struggles over place meanings. Using focus groups, interviews with elected officials, and participant observation, we document initial African American resistance and eventual compliance with the prevailing anti-sprawl discourse and associated sense of place promoted by the Charleston County Planning Commission and others. Our research suggests that dynamics driving development in the rural, U.S. South are similar in kind to those in the Third World where natural resource decisions are informed by class, cultural, and racial politics.
Article
On one level, geography is about place and sense of place. On another level, it is about recognizing historical landmarks and the creation of symbolic landscapes. Sometimes, geography perpetuates received opinions that need deconstruction and one such example involves the myths and changing attitudes about the past that have spawned a culturally distinct but sentimental and contrived vernacular landscape in the city's countryside. Contemporary society has reclaimed historical landmarks, structures and narratives for a number of purposes. Rustification impulses and the search for past country decor in wider life spaces have altered the city's countryside and imbued past sites with new social, cultural, economic and more importantly, metaphorical meaning. Sentiment for the past has become an attractive amenity within the city's countryside. It is contended that the city's countryside is a paradoxical, non-Euclidean space where codign sets of attributes apply. It is less a new society that we experience than a new idea of the old. The city's countryside has as much claim to the title “symbolic landscape” as other socially and culturally constructed places.
Article
In Uneven Development, a classic in its field, Neil Smith offers the first full theory of uneven geographical development, entwining theories of space and nature with a critique of capitalist development. Featuring pathbreaking analyses of the production of nature and the politics of scale, Smith's work anticipated many of the uneven contours that now mark neoliberal globalization. This third edition features an afterword updating the analysis for the present day. © 2008 by The University of Georgia Press. All rights reserved.
Article
Despite the rapid urbanization of the Arizona-Sonora borderlands, cattle ranching continues to play a major, if increasingly contested, political, economic, and ecological role in the region. Unlike other industries, technological manipulation has failed to increase productivity in the range cattle industry. The constraints of aridity and climatic variability have not been overcome. Ranchers on both sides of the border therefore need access to large tracts of land to secure the natural forage their cattle need. Spain and Mexico both recognized communal as well as private forms of tenure, even though neoliberal reforms are weakening comunidades and ejidos. The United States, in contrast, has no communitarian tradition, and U.S. homestead laws never allowed individuals to preempt enough of the public domain to support a cow outfit. Instead, grazing allotments on both federal and state lands provide ranchers with exclusive rights to forage. Those rights are increasingly challenged by some environmentalists, who want cows off public lands. Faced with rising land prices, unstable markets, an unpredictable climate, enormous estate taxes, and increasing political uncertainty over their access to public lands, many ranchers choose or are forced to sell their private land to real estate developers or subdivide it themselves. The resulting fragmentation of the landscape and increasing densities of people deplete water resources and make large-scale ecosystem management, including the preservation of wildlife corridors and the reintroduction of fire, difficult if not impossible.
Article
Many residents of coastal towns believe that they live in communities that are economically dependent upon commercial fishing. However, employment data indicate that fishing is a relatively minor economic component of many of these communities. We apply the concept of aspect dominance from the field of ecology to help explain this discrepancy. In addition we explore other forms of ecological dominance in regard to perceptions of fishing dependence. A key idea is that residents and sometimes researchers confuse forms of ecological dominance with economic dependence. Our study relied upon secondary and key informant data for six Florida coastal communities. In addition, we conducted a random telephone sample with 1,200 residents of these villages to establish their perceptions of the importance of commercial fishing to their communities.
Article
On one level, geography is about place and sense of place. On another level, it is about recognizing historical landmarks and the creation of symbolic landscapes. Sometimes, geography perpetuates received opinions that need deconstruction and one such example involves the myths and changing attitudes about the past that have spawned a culturally distinct but sentimental and contrived vernacular landscape in the city's countryside. Contemporary society has reclaimed historical landmarks, structures and narratives for a number of purposes. Rustification impulses and the search for past country decor in wider life spaces have altered the city's countryside and imbued past sites with new social, cultural, economic and more importantly, metaphorical meaning. Sentiment for the past has become an attractive amenity within the city's countryside. It is contended that the city's countryside is a paradoxical, non-Euclidean space where codign sets of attributes apply. It is less a new society that we experience than a new idea of the old. The city's countryside has as much claim to the title "symbolic landscape" as other socially and culturally constructed places.