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Portland: A Tale of Two Cities


"Portland is a city that some residents praise as a kind of eden: full of bike paths, independently-owned small businesses, great public transportation and abundant microbreweries and coffeeshops. And then there’s a whole other city. It’s the city where whole stretches of busy road are missing sidewalks, and you can see folks in wheelchairs rolling themselves down the street right next to traffic. It’s the city where some longtime African-American residents feel as if decades of institutional racism still have not been fully addressed."

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's curator insight, October 8, 2013 10:11 AM

Portland, Oregon is often discussed as a magnet for a young demographic that wants to be part of a sustainable city that supports local businesses and agriculture.  This podcast looks behind that image (which has a measure of truth to it) to see another story.  Relining, gentrification, poverty, governance and urban planning are all prominent topics in this 50 minute podcast that provides as fascinating glimpse into the poorer neighborhoods of this intriguing West Coast city.  When in cities, we often use the term sustainability to refer to the urban ecology, but here we see a strong concern for the social sustainability of their historic neighborhoods as well. 

Tags: neighborhood, gentrificationurban, place, culture, economic, racepovertyplace, socioeconomic.

Gregory S Sankey Jr.'s curator insight, November 19, 2013 10:21 AM

Recently I came across a craigslist post from a gentleman who was trying to rally individuals to Portland with him for a journey on the "Michigan Trail" to Detroit. He made promise that the intention was to perform rejuvinating work in  Detroit alongside it's current residents and that there would be "no gentrification." 

Not that I found these statements or intentions to be profound or useful in anyway, but this podcast really put a nail in the coffin for me. The effects of gentrification are well known for both their positive and negative aspects. But the bottom line is this, regardless of intention the poor and diverse populations will be displaced unless it is from them that this renaissance takes place. Not Portlandia hipsters looking for some sort of "promise land."  

Portland apparentely has it's own issues with gentrification and a class of social and cultural norms that make it difficult to make the case for cities on the rise to take the same path.  

Matthew DiLuglio's curator insight, November 27, 2013 3:12 PM

I don't think that Earth offers everything for everyone.  Given the situation of predetermination about birthplace and essentially upbringing, social class, and outcomes, in an infinite universe (infinite until proven otherwise), a single small planet cannot possibly offer us everything we are destined to need in the universe, let alone the towns that we are limited to.  I do not believe in choice, I believe in destiny... I do not blame people for racism or crimes, as HORRIBLE as they may be. I think that people are made into what they are by the world around them, in existential and defining ways.  Yeah, there is plenty of room for improvement and change in Oregon, but realistically, there is also more room for improvement in other areas too.  I don't really see humans as the sort of people that will ever get better without some sort of divine intervention.  I am taking the perspective of separation of paradise and purgatory that was mentioned in this article, and applying it to a different scale, but I do believe that mankind is to be condemned by the universe, due to its faults and inability to play well with others.  The world freaks out when kidnapping victims are found after a decade of abuse and captivity, but this same world breeds animals for slaughter and consumption... Earthlings clearly have been taught to not care about those that are different, whether in looks or species... I think the kidnapping situation is vile and appalling, but I also think that breeding species for slaughter (which affects more living beings) is democratically more of an issue.

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Seeking Oakland's Soul In The 'New Oakland'

Seeking Oakland's Soul In The 'New Oakland' | AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY DIGITAL  STUDY: MIKE BUSARELLO | Scoop.it
Oakland, Calif., was a hub of African-American life on the West Coast. Today, it's one of the most diverse cities in the country. How has that shift affected its culture?

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's curator insight, May 1, 2013 7:21 AM

The NPR blog Code Switch focuses on issues of race, culture and ethnicity.  In this podcast they explore the changing demographics of Oakland due to gentrification and the cultural impact that it has had.  In the 80s, African-Americans represented nearly half of Oakland's population, but today is now 34 percent white, 28 percent black, 25 percent Latino and 17 percent Asian.  The music scene, night life and sense of communal identity has consequently shifted, and that causes some to yearn for what once was.   

Tags: neighborhood, gentrificationurban, place, culture, economic

Rescooped by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks from Geography Education

Colorful Places & Spaces

It is only right to start this site off with photos of the Holsteiner Stairs by artist Horst Glaesker. In 2008, I saw photos of this installation in Wuppertal, Germany and I knew I had to create a colour blog.


How can public art help create a sense of place?  How does this transform the neighborhood and community?  What are the cultural and econommic impacts of public art?       

Via Seth Dixon
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NYTimes Video: Transforming Gulou

NYTimes Video: Transforming Gulou | AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY DIGITAL  STUDY: MIKE BUSARELLO | Scoop.it
A government-initiated redevelopment plan will transform one of the oldest neighborhoods in Beijing into a polished tourist attraction.


This 2010 video showcases one of China's urban transformation projects.  Urban revitalization plans are not without critics, especially those who see the cultural transformation of a neighborhood they deem worthy of historical preservation. 

Via Seth Dixon
Seth Dixon's comment, November 29, 2011 2:48 PM
This is a an example of "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."
Nathan Chasse's curator insight, April 12, 6:50 AM

This video explains how gentrification is alive and well in Beijing. The government has been tearing down old neighborhoods and redeveloping them into expensive touristy areas. The locals obviously hate the redevelopment since it has destroyed old historical parts of the city and forced their relocation. The government redevelopment is understandable because this is prime real estate near downtown Beijing and maximizing the economics of this area makes sense. Gulou is one of these neighborhoods and highly historic. Fortunately, it appears Gulou has been granted a reprieve from remodeling, but the gentrification of high value property in Beijing will likely never be done.

Albert Jordan's curator insight, April 17, 10:20 AM

Progression or destruction? Out with the old and in with the new or the selling of ones soul? Of course those that are affected or disagree will say one thing and those that wish to develop will say another. While many will see this as a desecration of the past; at some point at a larger scale change must come. It is important to realize that China needs to do something with its people, whom are only multiplying. Much of the old towns and structures are not up to modern day standards of safety. As more people need to support themselves and their dependents, they will need jobs. The main, larger cities, can only support so much. 

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Want to Get High-Skill Immigration Right? Think About Detroit

Want to Get High-Skill Immigration Right? Think About Detroit | AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY DIGITAL  STUDY: MIKE BUSARELLO | Scoop.it
Rust Belt cities are hoping that immigrants can help rebuild our their shrinking communities. Washington should gear policy to helping them.

Via Seth Dixon, Betty Denise
Mark E. Deschaine, PhD's curator insight, May 16, 2013 6:44 PM

Not tech .... But we are impacted in Michigan .....

Nganguem Victor's curator insight, June 3, 2013 5:07 AM

j'aime ça

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Dark Days: When the Colts Left Baltimore

A look back on the 27th Anniversary of the the NFL Colts dark flight from Baltimore in the middle of the night.


BM: When the Colts left they took the heart of Balitmore and left the fans in utter disbelief. Robert Irsay had no intention of staying whether he got his new staidum for the Colts or not, he wanted out and had been looking since 1976. The city of Baltimore was not going to budge on the construction of a new pubically funded stadium simply because it was too expensive and the citry didn't have the money. All that remained in Baltimore was an empty Memorial Stadium, which wasn't perfect but was in really decent shape and the Orioles. 


SD: Why are sports teams treated so differently from other businesses?  How are teams linked to place in such intimate ways?  What is the economic impact of a sports team on the city and how could relocation damage that city?  See this scoop.it topic for more on the cultural and economic impacts of sports teams on cities.

Via Brandon Murphy, Seth Dixon
Ms. Harrington's comment, August 8, 2012 6:09 AM
I never knew about this particular team, but I can see how a sports franchise abandoning a city has a devastating effect. It seems like there was a deliberate attempt to "sneak"out.
Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, August 8, 2012 6:16 AM
Quite a blow to the entire city of Baltimore, you can see from the older footage as well as the new how badly this effected this city. A huge impact on the people, seemingly crushing spirits across the city.
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Providence and the Virtues of Scale

Providence and the Virtues of Scale | AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY DIGITAL  STUDY: MIKE BUSARELLO | Scoop.it

I live in the Providence metropolitan area so this particular blog posting about urban planning and economic revitalization hit very close to home.   


Rhode Islanders: how accurate do you feel this perspective on Providence and it's economic assets (and deficiencies) is?  What other aspects would you discuss in trying to understand the economic geography of the area?  What are the biggest obstacles for improving the city? 

Via Seth Dixon
Kenny Dominguez's curator insight, December 11, 2013 9:20 PM

Well the providence area we are seeing a boost when it comes down to people getting jobs and also more people are coming to providence because of all it has to offer. Providence has lots to offer. One good thing that providence has to offer is one of the best schools in the area. Many people come and see and take in the scenery that just blows your mind. Also the economy seems to be getting better because this city seems not to be in such of a bad deficit. The city of providence in a couple of more years we will see a tremendous growth that the city will benefit from.

Anhony DeSimone's curator insight, December 19, 2013 6:52 AM

This article shows how you can improve a city to not only make it bigger but to make it better. not better in the sense that it has to beat out other cities and have the best buildings etc. but to allow the city to be more people friendly which means getting rid of congestion and traffic.