Heritage narratives for landscapes on the rural–urban fringe in the Midwestern United States

John Strauser, William P. Stewart, Nicole M. Evans, Lorraine Stamberger, Carena J. van Riper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Landscapes on the rural–urban fringe are experiencing rapid change. Along with agriculture, additional fronts of landscape change are related to suburbanization, conservation, and tourism. Building a framework related to heritage narratives, this study analyzes stories told by stakeholders to make sense of landscape change and influence their perspectives about growth. Drawing on focus groups of community and development leaders at two sites in the Midwestern United States–Jasper County, Iowa and Will County, Illinois–this study explores sense of place and shared values in the context of landscape change. From 76 heritage narratives, five thematic areas were identified: (1) agriculture, (2) tourism, (3) industry, (4) grassland conservation, and (5) housing. Participants expressed needs to find compatibility across multiple narratives and develop coherent visions for future growth. A “planning for place” meta-narrative was explored to integrate diverse perspectives and stimulate dialog about shared values with potential to unite landscapes and communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1269-1286
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2019


  • landscape planning
  • narrative analysis
  • prairie conservation
  • sense of place
  • shared values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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