Mosaics of Inclusion: Reflections on Thames Chase Community Forest

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Abstract

This paper reflects on a practitioner-grounded metaphor – the mosaic – as a means to think the relationship between health and the environment in two policy initiatives, a walking and a conservation group. These were both part of Thames Chase Community Forest, a UK-based nature program to combat ill-health, poverty and social exclusion for those on the fringe of large urban conurbations. Using multiple research methods, the paper questions the simple, literal, equal-but-separate notions of the two pre-set policy parameters to show how the solidarity that mattered could not be fixed in advance. It was a mosaic-in-the-making, that came to life along the way, within the shifting ground of patterned regularities, people and happenings that often escape the net of rapid approaches to ethnographic policy research. Such reflections might usefully offer fresh soundings for policy-makers to contemplate, not merely a blueprint to be followed.

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