• The magic of the mundane: the vulnerable web of connections between urban nature and wellbeing

      Dobson, Julian; Brindley, Paul; Birch, Jo; Henneberry, John; McEwan, Kirsten; Mears, Meagan; Richardson, Miles; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Sheffield; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2020-10-23)
      Cities are sites of human, ecological and institutional stress. The elements that make up the city – its people, landscapes and processes – are engaged in constant assemblage and disassembly, joining and pulling apart. Reporting the findings of a three-year multi-disciplinary deep case study, this paper examines the role of urban nature in mediating the relationship between stressed humans and stressed places. It applies assemblage theory to show how such relationships can be understood in contexts of multiple pressures. From empirical findings it shows how urban nature contributes to mental wellbeing, but also how institutional stresses linked to austerity policies shape efforts to reconnect humans and nature. Across five strands of research, this article foregrounds the importance of multiple everyday experiences of urban nature and practices of care and maintenance. It calls on researchers, policymakers, planners and practitioners to pay closer attention to the ‘magic of the mundane’ in supporting human wellbeing; in caring for spaces and places; and in providing the services that link people and the natural environment.