Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Have you even wanted to explore an interactive map of the United States and be able to click on any neighborhood to see the local population age structure and compare that to the national, state or county data? If not, you don't know what you've been missing. This is a fantastic resource that lets you and your students explore the data AND ask spatial questions. It's definitely one that I'll add to my list of favorite resources.
Both Hispanics and Asians been among the fastest-growing racial/ethnic groups in recent years, but since 2010, number of Asians have increased at a faster rate.
It is often noted that the cultural composition of the United States is undergoing a shift, referred to by some as the "Browning of America." The story of Asian and Hispanic growth in the United States are occurring simultaneously, which makes many assume that they are growing for the same reasons. The data clearly shows that this is not the case.
This interactive map, produced by University of Georgia historian Claudio Saunt to accompany his new book West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, offers a time-lapse vision of the transfer of Indian land between 1776 and 1887. As blue “Indian homelands” disappear, small red areas appear, indicating the establishment of reservations (above is a static image of the map; visit the map's page to play with its features).
In the past I've shared maps that show the historic expansion of the United States--a temporal and spatial visualization of Manifest Destiny. The difference with this interactive is that the narrative focuses on the declining territory controlled by Native Americans instead of the growth of the United States. That may seem a minor detail, but how history is told shapes our perception of events, identities and places.
Cities like Washington and San Francisco are gaining the highly skilled but losing their less-educated workforce.
This article, with its charts and interactive maps, is worth exploring to show some of the important spatial patterns of internal migration. It's not hard to realize that larger, cosmopolitan metro areas will have an advantage in attracting and keeping prospective college graduates; the question that we should be asking our students is how will this impact neighborhoods, cities and regions?
Today's volume of immigrants, in some ways, is a return to America’s past.
The source of migrants today has changed the cultural composition of the United States from what is was 100 years ago. Cultures are not static and migration is one of the key drivers of change. These maps produced by the Pew Research Center. Despite what media reports would have you believe, immigration into the United States is not on the rise, but maps such as these can be construed to imagine that there is a flow of immigrant coming from south of the border. The reality is that migration from Mexico to the United States has steadily dropped since 1999.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a tremendously entertaining and incredibly informative professional development evening at the APHG reading (that isn’t an easy combination to pull of either, and he did marvelously). Dr. James Johnson is a trained geographer teaching in the School of Business at the University of North Carolina. His talk, entitled “Disruptive Demographics: Implications for Global Competitiveness” (PDF file available here-- video of an earlier version is here) follows in a tradition of superb presentation at the reading; in 2012, Roger Downs gave a great professional development presentation on geographic expertise.
|Suggested by Kara Charboneau|
"The U.S. population rose by just 0.72% in 2013, the lowest growth rate in more than 70 years. Not only has the country become less-attractive to immigrants than in years past, with net immigration down from nearly 1.2 million as of 2001 to 843,145 last year, but also the U.S.'s domestic birth rate has dropped to a multi-decade low.
While the population of most of the country's metro areas grew at a low pace in recent years, in a small number of metro areas the population actually shrank. Looking at the most recent years, the U.S. population rose by just 2.4% between April 2010 and July 2013, but in 30 metro areas the population shrank by at least 1%. The population in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, fell a nation-leading 4.4% in that time. Based on recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 24/7 Wall St. examined the cities with shrinking populations."
Demographic transformations are dramas in slow motion. America is in the midst of two right now. Our population is becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray.
The demographic shifts in the United States are transforming the cultural fabric of the country and this interactive feature from the Pew Research Center explores some of these changes. Interracial marriage, declining fertility rates, migration, economic opportunities and politics are just some of the issues that can be seen in these excellent populations pyramids, charts, videos and graphs.
"Here's how the United States looks when it is measured on the county level by the same standards used to rank countries by the UN, the Human Development Index. Five variables are taken into account: life expectancy, income per capita, school enrollment, percentage of high school graduates, and percentage of college graduates."
Often we treat countries as solid areas and miss many regional patterns; in part because we view global data sets that are at that scale.
Questions to ponder: what regional patterns do you see? What accounts for these patterns? What do you think other countries would look like with data at this scale?
"Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into a celebration for all things Irish. The world's first St. Patrick's Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the President issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year."
We celebrate St Patrick's Day to commemorate him for driving out the snakes from Ireland in the 5th century (or to just have an excuse to party, kiss and pinch people). What does the biogeography of Ireland have to tell us about this legend? Some believe that the non-believers (figurative 'snakes') were what he drove out of the Emerald Isle, a land with a rich culture.
Who wants to spend the night in a Walmart parking lot?
There are a few generally accepted principles when it comes to the etiquette of spending the night in a vehicle in a Walmart parking lot. One night only. No chairs or barbecue grills outside an R.V. Shop at the store for gas, food or supplies, if you can, as a way of saying thanks. Walmart, the country’s largest discount retailer, says you’re welcome: its Web site says that R.V. travelers are “among our best customers.” The photographer Nolan Conway has been taking pictures of Walmart’s resident guests at several stores in central Arizona. Sophia Stauffer, a 20-year-old who travels the country in a van with her boyfriend and their dog, describes their lots, which usually feel quiet and safe, as their best option for most nights. “We really don’t want to work or live in a house,” she says.
Mobility studies and movement are key elements within geography. This photo gallery is an intriguing glimpse into a distinct way of experiencing the United States that highlights a hyper-mobile subculture. When discussing place we often think of the residents and workers, and think of those that use the place with some degree of permanence. However, many people’s personal geographies are much more ephemeral, and some places are defined by their impermanence and flows. Wanderlust can strike those in all socioeconomic sectors, and this is a great preview of those on the road. Fittingly, the dog in this image is named Kerouc.
World defense spending is expected to go up for the first time in five years, thanks to China and Russia.
The top 3 shouldn't come as any big surprises, but there might be a few farther on down the list though that might raise some eyebrows. There are specific geopolitical, historic, economic and cultural rationales for each of these countries that explain why they are on this list, and discussing those reasons is a conversation would having.
"The graph and tables on this page attempt to show how the urban hierarchy of the United States has developed over time. The statistic used here is the population of the metropolitan area (contiguous urbanized area surrounding a central city), not the population of an individual city. Metropolitan area population is much more useful than city population as an indicator of the size and importance of a city, since the official boundaries of a city are usually arbitrary and often do not include vast suburban areas. For example, in 2000 San Antonio was the 10th largest city in the U.S., larger than Boston or San Francisco, but its Metro Area was only ranked about 30th. The same thing was happening even back in 1790: New York was the biggest single city, but Philadelphia plus its suburbs of Northern Liberties and Southwark made it the biggest metro area."
"On Tuesday, President Obama, if precedent holds, will declare that the state of America’s union is 'strong.' Is it?"
Politico Magazine rounded up 14 different state rankings from reputable sources like the Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FBI, and on important factors such as high school graduation rates, per capita income, life expectancy and crime rate. Then we averaged out each state’s 14 rankings to come up with a master list—atop which sits none other than New Hampshire. The approach isn’t scientific or comprehensive (we also hold no grudges against the State of Mississippi), but given that eight of the lowest-ranking states on our list overlap with the bottom 10 on his, maybe less has changed in the past 83 years than you’d think.
We chart the routes of, and reasons for, the barriers which are once again dividing populations
This is an in-depth, multi-media interactive that explores the political, economic and cultural implications of borders that are heavily fortified or militarized (I found this too late to be included in the "best posts of 2013" list, but this will be the first to include for 2014). Not all of these borders are political; in Brazil it explores the walls that separate different socioeconomic groups and in Northern Ireland they look at walls dividing religious groups. The interactive examines various borders including U.S./Mexico, Morocco, Syria, India/Bangladesh, Brazil, Israel, Greece/Turkey, Northern Ireland, North/South Korea and Spain. The overarching questions are these: why are we building new walls to divide us? What are the impacts of these barriers?
"We're far less politically divided by geography than it may seem....Of course, it’s true that Americans aren’t of one mind on many political issues. But it is important that we not look at these maps and infer that we are so politically polarized by geography. In fact, most Americans live in places that are at least somewhat politically and ideologically diverse — even if that’s not reflected in how congressional district boundaries are drawn. In terms of the most important driver of political choices — partisanship — most of us live in a purple America, not a red or blue America."
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.
“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.”
Take a look at his map.
What do you like about these regional divisions? What do you think about this map is inaccurate? Here is an NPR podcast interview with the author of the book and map.
This data visualization from the U.S. Census Bureau shows distribution of Hispanic or Latino population by specific origin. http://go.usa.gov/D7VH
Questions to Ponder: What geographic factors account for the differences in settlement patterns of those of Puerto Rican origin and those of Mexican origin? How do these patterns shape the cultural patterns in the United States and affect particular places?
Factories are finding that years of doing business overseas has withered what once was a thriving textile and apparel work force in the United States.
Historically, waves of immigrants came to the United States to work in textile mills. Since 1990, 77% of manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to places with lower wages as the industry has become automated. Today though, specialty items that still need to done by hand are coming back to the U.S. and wages in that sector are rising as American consumers want a "made in the USA" label.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
How many of these 107 regional slang words do you use? This week on Mental Floss' YouTube information session, author and vlogger John Green explains 107 slang words specific to certain regions.
"Counties where at least 10 percent of people speak a language other than English at home."
While this is ostensibly a map that would be great for a cultural geography unit, I'm also thinking about the spatial patterns that created this map. What current or historical migrations account for some of the patterns visible here? What would a map like this look like it it were produced 50 years ago? Why are Vermont and West Virginia the only states without a county with over 10% of the population that speak another language at home?
The American birthrate is at a record low. What happens when having it all means not having children?
The demographic transition is an important model in human geography that explains many of the declining birth rates in the more developed parts of the world and the high fertility rates in less developed countries. This is often discussed within a demographic and economic context. This article from TIME Magazine struck quite a nerve recently. While it noted that from 2007 to 2011 the fertility rate dropped 9% in the United States, it wasn't the statistical analysis that got people talking (here is another article on the topic). What did strike a nerve was the discussion of the cultural shifts that are at the roots of this demographic decline, the cover picture that glamorizes a childfree life and a subtitle (when having it all means not having kids) that idealizes not having children. The demographic transition has what some call a 'cultural lag' where a large family size is still culturally preferred even if it no longer makes the same agricultural and economic sense as it did in the past. This piece demonstrates the new secularized 'post-cultural lag' values that see children as obstacles to preferable career paths and a limitation on their freedoms. For one commentator that was opposed to this article's cultural perspective see this article. While these pieces are decidedly not neutral on the subject, that is the point; opinions widely differ on the cultural impact of these demographic shifts.