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Geography Education
Geography Education
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography students and teachers. http://geographyeducation.org
Curated by Seth Dixon
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"Political Landscapes"

"Political Landscapes" | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Seth Dixon's insight:

While touring Kevin Babola's art studio yesterday, I found this thought-provoking piece entitled ‘Political Landscapes.’ I greatly enjoyed my conversation with the artist about the political, economic and urban visions that went into this painting.  The conceptual idea behind this painting started when the artist was exploring the neighborhoods of New Bedford, MA and noticed how a sense of place can change very quickly. I dare say most cities have areas similar to the one portrayed here where the socioeconomic character changes very abruptly. While physically it might be very easy to cross from the side of the street with tenements to the neighborhood with single family homes, making that transition permanent is incredibly difficult.

 

Questions to ponder: what leads to cities having abrupt changes in the urban fabric? What might this chasm represent to people on either side of the divide? How does this impact the neighborhood institutions (schools, local government, etc.)?  Please visit the artist's webpage at: http://www.kbolaillustration.com

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Cynthia Williams's curator insight, July 29, 2013 9:33 AM

The picture ‘Political Landscapes,’ is a portrait of the haves and the have not’s and it illustrates the widening chasm of socioeconomic levels with the top 1% gaining and the rest steadily losing ground.  

 

The decline of industry very often leads to the decline in jobs, schools and local government.  With the erosion of the tax base cities are no longer able to maintain these institutions.

Donald Dane's comment, December 10, 2013 5:41 AM
this picture meant a lot to me simple due to the fact that I've lived in the city of providence for the last three years now. everywhere I look in the city shows an identical view to this picture that protrays inner-city compact houses vs grass and space of the kind of suburbs. on the right is the inner-city version where houses are only separated by a one car width driveway and are two to three stores high to accommadate more families and people. the left side of the picture protrays a more suburb area of the city. but this area isn't necessarily the suburbs because it would be an area just minute outside of the busy city center like a north providence or east providence area. in north providence yes you technically have a yard and grass but it is so small that you mine as well have scissors to cut the lawn. with a bite more space houses being more single family oriented this is more luxurious than the left side of the picture
Denise Pacheco's curator insight, December 17, 2013 10:27 AM

This pictures shows the difference between the city and suburbs. Even in the same city, you can  have some parts that look more economically wealthier. But looking at it from a political view, I would guess that the whole in the ground that divides the two neighborhoods would be the line that divides democrats and republicans. City folk tend to vote more democrat because they want the government to assist the people. WHile Republicans tend to look out more for themselves.

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Rise of Residential Segregation by Income

Rise of Residential Segregation by Income | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Residential segregation by income has increased during the past three decades across the United States and in 27 of the nation’s 30 largest major metropolitan area, according to a new analysis of census tract and household income data by the Pew Research Center.  The analysis finds that 28% of lower-income households in 2010 were located in a majority lower-income census tract, up from 23% in 1980, and that 18% of upper- income households were located in a majority upper-income census tract, up from 9% in 1980."  This interactive map allows the user to explore the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Read the article associated with this map.

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America's Real Homeless Hotspots

America's Real Homeless Hotspots | Geography Education | Scoop.it
An estimated 600,000 Americans are homeless, but the spread isn't uniform. Some cities have been hit harder than others.

 

When I teach cultural geography, I discuss the idea that some thing are "in place" and others are "out of place" based on the cultural norms that change from place to place.  Homelessness is almost always "out of place."   What parts of the built environment in your city are purposefully uninviting to the homeless?  What is the connection between the city (and urbanization) and homelessness?  What could (or should) be done in major metropolitan areas with high rates of homelessness?  What is the spatial patterns evident in the geography of homelessness?  What accounts for these patterns?  What surprises are in the data from the article? 

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Isabelle Zahn's curator insight, January 18, 11:23 AM

This article fits into our unit of Environmental impact of cultural attitudes and practices it also fits into the unit of ethnicity and cultural regions. In this article it talks about homelessness and  why there is homelessness. This article covers the main reasons why people are homeless and the percentage  approximately  that are homeless for the specific reasons. This article has relevance with national and international communities because  people there are homeless and therefore they are affected by that. Some short-term effects can be creating homeless shelters were like they know the reasons why people are homeless or they can also create homeless funds.some long-term effects could be decreasing the amount of homeless people and just realizing the reasons why these people are homeless and creating ways for less people to become homeless. 

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In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup

In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup | Geography Education | Scoop.it
An unfinished skyscraper occupied by squatters is a symbol of Venezuela’s financial crisis in the 1990s, state control of the economy and a housing shortage.

 

This skyscraper that was once a symbol of wealth, in an incredible paradigm shift, has now become is occupied by squatters. The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents--especially with problems in the rural countryside. A complex web of geographic factors needs to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation. The video link "Squatters on the Skyline" embedded in the article is a must see.

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Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 2:34 PM

The video we watched of the squatters living in an unfinished skyscraper was unlike anything I've ever seen before. In a country with such high population rates and a housing shortage, people have gotten creative and made homes in this 45 story building where they share what would have been office spaces and bathrooms.  Over 2,500 people have moved into the dilapidated skyscraper and made a home out of it for their families. They have rigged electricity that the government does not provide for them and built small stores on almost every floor.  The people have not been evicted because the government of Venezuela knows of the housing shortages, yet does not fix it.  

I feel ashamed that a country with so many oil resources has such high rates of poverty and no one is fixing it.  It shows the corruption in the government through an extreme although innovative example.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, February 17, 7:46 AM

The problems in Venezuela with housing and the lack of response to the problem by the government has led people to become squatters.  The using of the abandoned buildings was a good idea by the original squatters.  The vacant buildings can house many of the countries it is a shame that the government did not think of this solution to the housing problem and vacant building first, if they had, they could have made sure they were safer for the residence.  The idea of a vertical city springing up in this building is also an interesting one.  Not only are squatters living in these buildings but creating businesses and other services for the residence.

Jess Deady's curator insight, February 18, 10:02 AM

In life, I constantly find myself comparing situations with what I read and what I know. Imagine this skyscraper is the Prudential in Boston. How could something meant to be so great fall to its death (and to peoples literal deaths)? One day there is a massive financial building occupied with bankers and lavishness. The next day there is a skyscraper in the form of a house. Housing shortages are happening everywhere and Venezuela is being hit hard in this situation. Imagine visiting this country and asking where someone lives? "Oh, I live in the Tower of David, which used to mean a whole lot more."

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Homes across the world, from above

Homes across the world, from above | Geography Education | Scoop.it
View Homes across the world seen from up high pictures on Yahoo!. See Homes across the world seen from up high photos and find more pictures in our photo galleries.

 

This aerial photography gallery shows distinct types of urbanism and is a good portal to introduce a class to suburban landscapes. 

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Plastic Bottle House, Developmental Association for Renewable Energies

Plastic Bottle House, Developmental Association for Renewable Energies | Geography Education | Scoop.it

One person's trash is another person’s building material...or so it would seem. In the village of Sabon Yelwa the Developmental Association for Renewable Energies (DARE) has instigated an ingenious scheme to transform the region’s litter problem into a positive future for the community through the construction of new residences.


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Sinclair Tucker's comment, January 30, 2012 12:10 PM
whats really interesting about this is the twenty times strenth then bricks building which are normally the buildings built in Nigeria and most of Africa. Another interesting fact is the resistance to earthquake which is very important.
Fabián Salazar Bazúa's curator insight, March 11, 2013 4:09 PM

Otro ejemplo de lo que la creatividad e imaginación puede hacer con las construcciones.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, March 17, 2:53 PM

Creativity at its finest! In Sabon Yelwa new residences are constructed from plastic bottles. It is a great way of using something that does harm for the planet and turning it into something beneficial. DARE uses litter as a way to provide decent shelter and eliminate trash filling the streets. Plus it serves as an interesting focal piece!

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Stranded in suburbia: Why aren’t Americans moving to the city?

Stranded in suburbia: Why aren’t Americans moving to the city? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
It's going to take more than wishful thinking to convince Americans to move back to the urban core.

 

While some urban pundits have been projecting a decline of suburbia, the numbers haven't born that out.  How come?  What will that mean for society?  How does urban planning account for cultural and economic preferences?    

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Meagan Harpin's curator insight, September 12, 2013 7:02 PM

Because of lack of jobs in our economy today most college kids move back home with mom and dad after school. This means parents can move out of the suburbs if the so choose. Cities also have a bad rep, they are seen as violent and dirty and poverty filled and the schools in the cities arent always the best. All of these leave many families choosing suburbs first or leaving the cities for them. 

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The Beginning of the End for Suburban America

The Beginning of the End for Suburban America | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Beginning of the End for Suburban America...

 

A provocative title, but are our cities and urban settlement patterns shifting?  Is sprawl going to be curtailed by cultural, environmental and economic forces?

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Aimee Knight's curator insight, February 10, 7:01 AM

Over the years, Americans have been attracted to the "big city life" and all that goes with it. They chase down this dream that they know nothing about. This seemingly overrated lifestyle has suited some, but many, as we are seeing now, have discovered that the fast-paced life is not for them. In large numbers, people are beginning to desire the simplicity of life away from the constant streams of people and traffic. This change in trend contradicts the trends of previous years. We have worked so hard to build the large cities we have now, but was it all for nothing?

ethanrobert's curator insight, February 10, 7:04 AM

 Urban sprawl is starting to slow along with things like how much people drive their automobiles. This shift is due an increase in gas prices leading to a more selective choice to use public transit over the rising gas prices. This is mainly an economic problem, but other cultural and environmental issues will develop over time. This may lead to the end of the urban sprawl. - Robert

The Kingdom Keepers's curator insight, February 10, 7:10 AM

When suburban areas starting increasing, it had several advantages- Bigger homes, better education, a yard to call your own. These advantages are beginning to be shadowed by several factors that are actually pushing people out of these suburban areas and changing the urban pattern in our cities. Will people start to swarm in the central business district, or will rural areas reign? -Brooke

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Cities where homebuying is most (and least) affordable

Cities where homebuying is most (and least) affordable | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Looking for an affordable home? Here are 5 cities that are good bets, and 5 cities where owning is tough.

 

This is an intriguing set of lists.  What geographic factors explain why some cities are on either of these lists?  In related news on housing in the United States, many of the so-called "McMansions" of the 1990s and 2000s were virtually unsellable during height of the recession.  They are now being sold, but for around half of what they were selling for at their peak.  For more on McMansions, see this CNN article.   

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Container City

Channel 5 - Behind closed Doors Series on Container City at Trinity Buoy Wharf...

 

On my daily commute, I drive by a colorful container building in Providence, RI.  In terms of it's spatial configuration and aesthetic statement within the urban landscape, I found it fascinating.  After doing some more research, I began to appreciate this as a form of sustainable housing that 1) costs less than traditional structures, 2) can be built MUCH quicker that standard buildings and 3) has the potential to be an effective recycling method.  For more on 'Container Cities,' see: http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/kaidbenfield/40875/shipping-container-cities-bring-creative-funky-approach-green-construction

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What is Affordable Housing?

What is Affordable Housing? | Geography Education | Scoop.it

This is an excellent interactive map that allows the user to explore the various neighborhoods of New York City and analyze the housing market for a particular income bracket.  I've discovered that trying to purchase a home or rent an apartment can be one of the best hands-on lessons in urban social geography.  I envision a dynamic project that could be designed around this resource where several members of a group are given different demographic characteristics (for example: single income, 2 married adults, 3 children under 10 years of age) and income levels and a fixed workplace.  Where would you live?  What determines your choices?  What would your personal geographies look like?    

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Earthbag Construction

Earthbag Construction | Geography Education | Scoop.it

Innovative architecture from recycled plastic bags (filled on-site with local materials, stabilized and then plastered).  How can this be a part of a sustainability plan?  A development plan?  This image is actually from Rochester, NY, complete with building permits and plans to export the idea to Haiti with projects already in Argentina, Mexico, Philippines and many other places. 

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Civic Problems in Deindustrialized Urban America

Civic Problems in Deindustrialized Urban America | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The following is a post from David Schalliol, the Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

 

This is photoessay focuses on urban decay in a deindustrializing cities in the United States.  The goal is not to strictly bemoan the urban blight and see these ares as 'victims of decline,' but to also acknowledge the community that has emerged despite the economic hardships. 

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Decoding Bangkok’s Pocket-Urbanization: Social Housing Issues + Community Architects

Decoding Bangkok’s Pocket-Urbanization: Social Housing Issues + Community Architects | Geography Education | Scoop.it

This is modern cosmopolitan Bangkok, the second most expensive Southeast Asian city after Singapore.  Along with explosive city growth, the demand for urban housing has increased substantially. Due to a lack of sufficient and affordable housing, communities have settled into the cracks, eliciting a diagnosed social and institutional ‘pocket-urbanism’ that forms barriers of interaction among communities, and certainly between communities and authority figures...


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Paige McClatchy's curator insight, December 14, 2013 2:45 PM

The poor of Bangkok have been settling their communities in the cracks of wealthier areas, creating a phenomenom of "pocket-urbanization." The artical talks about an emerging "ethical turn" in architecture. People will certainly enjoy their lives better when they are empowered in their own living situations, but also we have seen how poor infrastructure is a target for the worst of natural disasters. Rebuilding these areas would be good for many parties.

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PBS Video: "Raze the Roof-Cleveland Levels Vacant Homes to Revive Neighborhoods"

PBS Video: "Raze the Roof-Cleveland Levels Vacant Homes to Revive Neighborhoods" | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Business correspondent Paul Solman reports from Cleveland on the economically troubled Ohio city's efforts to tear down thousands of empty foreclosed homes in hopes of putting eyesore and dangerous properties back to productive use -- perhaps as...

 

Urban decay and the economic downturn has made demolition and destruction a more fiscally sound plan than revitalizing and refurbishing.  Why?  What economic advantage is to tearing down homes?  In what region(s) do you think this type of strategy makes the most sense? 

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'Where Children Sleep'

'Where Children Sleep' | Geography Education | Scoop.it
James Mollison wanted to portray children's diverse worlds. What better way to do so than to photograph their bedrooms?

 

Pictures with the children and the space they inhabit, creates a more personal touch to geographic context for students.  It builds what I call "geographic empathy," which builds on commonalities, instead of just reinforcing stereotypes.   

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