Designing Slow Cities for More than Human Enrichment: Dog Tales—Using Narrative Methods to Understand Co-Performative Place-Making
Designing for slow cities and the need to design for future urban environments that include the more than human is a major priority for our times. This position paper problematizes the nature–culture divide in research about place and place-making, where place is understood to be about the sense of meaning we layer on locations in the physical world. It emphasizes the importance of narrative identity and place-making in the context of designing for urban environmental futures and creation of slow cities. We present an overview of a methodology to re-emplace place-making with animals in the context of slow cities and designing for the more than human. The work discussed here explores the use of narrative inquiry with some early narrative data (in the form of stories) about dog walks and those moments where our companion animals demonstrate agentic place-based meaning-making. The problem of understanding “what animals want” and how they make might ”make sense” of an experience is approached via a focus on a rich exemplar case in order to distinguish between emplotment (narrative meaning-making as self) and emplacement (narrative meaning-making as an aspect of place). This is used to create a framework for future evaluation with a view to revealing how “more than human stories”—just like our own familiar human stories—are also about agency and meaning in place. This recognition has import for ways in which we might approach decentring the human when we frame urban design activities.