Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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Vultures, Environment, and Mapping Trash

"For generations we vultures, armed with our senses, have fought in silence. We’ve waged a battle against garbage, but now we’re losing that battle. We want to help humans, so we’ve launched a movement to help you detect piles of garbage so that you can take action to eliminate them. Join us in this fight. Vultures Warn, you take action!"

Seth Dixon's insight:

This video is an introduction to a fascinating (Spanish language) website and project that uses GPS-tagged vultures to map out the urban trash hot-spots in Lima, Peru.  We look at vultures as the dregs of the food chain and ascribe moral filthiness to the species (just think of any number of movie, literary, and cultural references), but they are simply filling an ecological niche.  This mapping project is a way to use vultures nature in a way that allows for humanity to fix our trash production/disposal problems.    


Tagspollution, PerudevelopmentmappingGPSbiogeography, environment, environment modify, South America, land use, megacities, urban ecology, consumption.


Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, September 29, 2018 11:00 PM
An ingenious idea to clean up the environment. This group is based out of Lima, Peru uses the vultures in the city to find the piles of garbage and refuse left by people and set up events to clean up the area. It is an amazing way to utilize nature to help us solve the problems we caused ourselves. They utilize the vultures by putting GPS devices and GoPro cameras on them and wait until they locate large trash piles. The video itself is so well-made and interesting that it almost forces you to learn more by checking out their website and their social media pages. The phrase they use is "Gallinazo Avisa, Tu Actuas" translates to vultures warn, you act. 
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Peru Is Indignant After Greenpeace Makes Its Mark on Ancient Site

Peru Is Indignant After Greenpeace Makes Its Mark on Ancient Site | Geography Education |
A sign urging environmental action during a United Nations summit meeting on climate change was placed near a 1,000-year-old geoglyph that is a cultural treasure in Peru. Officials are outraged over the trespassing and the disturbance of the ancient grounds.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Greenpeace is falling for some of the same social media fails as the selfie generation.  Peruvian authorities are angry that Greenpeace activists damaged a forbidden archeological site that is both a national symbol and sacred site.  UN climate talks are taking place in Peru right now, so this Greenpeace publicity stunt becomes all the more ironic.  The Peruvian government is accusing them of irrevocably damaging the environment at this site.  Here is an article about how the environmental community was impacted by this Greenpeace stunt.

TagsreligionSouth AmericaPeru, environment.

Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 2015 8:36 AM

In today's world, we often run into situations where preservation and advancement are at odds with one another. Instances where sites or areas are protected by historical or cultural heritage societies is just one such example. As a result, these places are often barred from making improvements or changes that would improve the quality of life for the people living there. Some places, however, also possess a natural geography that is significant and culturally valuable to the people living there. To change or mar these geographic landmarks is considered incredibly disrespectful and inconsiderate, as is the case with this Greenpeace blunder in Peru. 


The incident described in this article also seems to represent a kind of disconnect between the developed and developing worlds. Many times, developed nations feel it is there job to police the practices and beliefs of their less developed neighbors. This, of course, is a very insulting and elitist approach to enacting change that these countries see as positive. Often, the cultures and practices of these places are scorned for the sake of "progress" or "advancement", when in reality, these powerful countries are using their almost unquestioned influence to get their message across using the context of smaller, less powerful countries. Organizations and countries that are truly proponents of change and progress must strike a balance between cultural respect and effective methods. 

Chris Costa's curator insight, September 28, 2015 11:25 AM

People make mistakes with the best of intentions, and this is certainly a case of just that. Greenpeace hoped to make a lasting impression on world leaders by creating a powerful symbol illustrating the need for the world's leaders to embark on a policy of environmental conservatism; instead, they insulted the Peruvian government and desecrated a national heritage site. I feel like something like this would never have happened in a powerful Western nation; could you imagine the outrage if a historical site like the location of the Battle of Gettysburg or Jefferson's home of Monticello had been altered in such a away? Or if this sign had been hung from Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower? I feel like this group completely disregarded the sensitivities of the Peruvian government because it is only a "middle power," a nation that could easily be trumped by the group's ambitions- in short, that the nations concerns did not matter because it was "only" Peru. I find that train of thought extremely insulting and dangerous within the context of international relations- if smaller nations can be disregarded so easily in Western circles, what does that say for the future of global politics? An apology and, more importantly, a restoration project are in order, and Peru is right to demand them. I, too, would be insulted by Greenpeace's actions.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 12:23 PM

an environmental group disturbing on of the regions where man has been banned from going is insane. how do you justify defacing one of the last truly pristine places on earth, where people haven't walked for centuries, for the sake of some Eco-terrorism. did you not think through the response that this act would inspire, and if so, how did you become so dense?

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Photographing Iconic Landmarks

Photographing Iconic Landmarks | Geography Education |
Oh, Machu Picchu, ancient city of the Incas, pride of Peru, must-see travel destination: You've never been so appropriately photobombed by a llama.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Millions of tourists have already taken a picture of Machu Picchu from this angle, and yet, tourists all want to replicate the iconic shot as for themselves--proof that they were there and had the full experience.  Iconic images are perfect for internet memes (and in this instance a photobomb) because there is a shared cultural understanding of what the picture should look like normally and inverting that provides the comic relief.  CAPTION THIS PHOTO IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. 

Tags: Peru, South America, tourism, images.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 6:59 PM

While humorous these pictures really show that certain areas and regions are often imagined by a set and specific image. When Machu Picchu is thought of it is always seen from the same peak, making this an incredibly popular photo spot for tourists, or in this case a llama.  

Michael Eiseman's curator insight, December 18, 2014 7:19 PM

#LlamaHam we at have about 20 pictures of Llamas that are pretty photogenic. I have one that was stuck in a split tree on purpose in Salta Argentina.  Seems they have personality! and want to get a few bucks now for a photo. #paytoplay hipsters.

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 7, 2015 1:21 PM

This is hilarious. It's a perfect moment to capture a picture, while also distracting from how actually beautiful Machu Picchu really is. But, if anything this will probably make people want to visit even more, because they'll all want to take this picture themselves. Which, will undoubtedly be good for Peru's economy. Who says photobombs can't be a good thing?

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Peru's Pitmasters Bury Their Meat In The Earth, Inca-Style

Peru's Pitmasters Bury Their Meat In The Earth, Inca-Style | Geography Education |
What's the epitome of summer for a lot of Americans? It's communing around a grill, with friends and family, waiting for a slab of meat to cook to juicy perfection.

In Peru, people like to gather around heat and meat, too. Except the heat — and the meat — are buried in the ground. It's called pachamanca, a traditional way of cooking that dates back to the Inca Empire. The pit cooking technique has evolved over time but remains an important part of the Peruvian cuisine and culture, especially in the central Peruvian Andes all year-round for family get-togethers and celebrations.

Tags: food, folk culture, culture, indigenous, South AmericaPeru.

Peyton Conner's curator insight, March 10, 2016 10:17 AM
Pop culture is taking over the whole world and few folk traditions are still around today. I believe this article shows a great example of how societies are still honoring their heritage and ways of life. Even something as simple as a way of cooking preserves cultures that are being lost. PC
Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, February 20, 2018 9:30 PM
(South America) This article describes a technique of Peruvian cooking showcased at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I had never heard of pachamanca, the Incan cooking method that involves layers of potatoes, corn, vegetables, and meat steamed in a hole in the ground. The system involves a bottom of hot volcanic rocks, then a layer of vegetables that must be cooked for longer, followed by a layer of 3-4 types of meat. Then vegetables with shorter cooking time goes on top, with another layer of hot rocks in between. Then the hole is covered with flavoring and fabric and cooked for 1-2 hours. This way of cooking has survived through centuries of conquest and war and remains a vibrant part of Peru's culture.

Matt Danielson's curator insight, September 24, 2018 1:47 PM
Most people have had great memories at family barbecues. I for one love cooking on the grill with family on a nice sunny day. being a lover of barbecue i would love to try and cook this way one time. This method called  pachamanca is an ancient Inca method, but shares similarities to other methods used in today's pit cooking techniques in america. Though it seems the Incas perfected it many years before us
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Geography of Quinoa

Geography of Quinoa | Geography Education |

"The popularity of Quinoa has grown exponentially among the health-conscious food consumers in the developed economies of the world.  Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is rich in protein and is a better grain for those seeking to lose weight.  Quinoa has historically be rather limited but this diffusion is restructuring the geographic patterns of many places." 

Seth Dixon's insight:

This map from a Geography in the News article shows that Quinoa has historically been grown almost exclusively in the highlands of the Andes Mountains.  This was a localized food source for generations but this new global demand has increased the economic possibilities for Quinoa growers.  At the same time, local consumers that have traditionally depended on cheap Quinoa to supplement their diet are now effectively priced out, as stated in this Al-Jazeera article

Questions to Ponder: What modern and traditional agricultural patterns can we see in the production of Quinoa?  How have global and local forces reshaped the system?

Tags: agriculture, food production, foodglobalization, South America, folk cultures, culture, Bolivia.

Jason Schneider's curator insight, February 9, 2015 10:10 PM

Quinoa appears to be originated as grain crop for edible seeds in parts of Bolivia, Argentina, Peru and along to Andes Mountain. However, they increase the crop value as it spreads to other areas of the world such as Europe and United States. One thing that I wonder is that if the production is going to be popular in any region other than South America but manufacturing regions started on eastern United States and they spread overseas to Europe. I wonder if production of Quinoa will spread to other continents. Believe it or not, it has partially spread to small parts of southwestern Europe.

Brian Wilk's curator insight, March 22, 2015 3:20 PM

Quinoa will be a staple for generations to come and the countries of Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina would do well to provide all the assistance to the farming community in their respective countries. This product is like New Age rice, it provides multiple benefits to health conscious consumers such as protein, fiber, and a "full" feeling when consumed. Any recipe that calls for a rice base can incorporate Quinoa just as easily and it tastes great. being a bit of a health freak, I use Quinoa in my diet and it works.

While the success of the grain has made it less accessible price-wise to those who grow it, it should provide for a greater economic benefit for years to come, lifting a population from near poverty levels to hopefully one of a strong and vibrant middle class.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 2, 2015 3:43 PM

Quinoa has been grown in the high mountains of the Andes for decades and has been a localized food for the population. As their health benefits became known in to the global community, the demands for them increases. This made it difficult for the locals to find cheap Quinoa, which is normally eaten in their diet. I feel that it is unfair for the locals to have seek new source of food alternatives now that their healthy Quinoa will become more expensive as the demand for it goes up.

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The Changing Geography of Quinoa

The Changing Geography of Quinoa | Geography Education |
Bolivian and Peruvian farmers sell entire crop to meet rising western demand, sparking fears of malnutrition
Seth Dixon's insight:

Quinoa was once a traditional Andean grain that few outside of South America consumed, but it has quickly become a staple among the health-conscious in developed countries in recent years.  Dieticians and nutritional experts give it their seal of approval because it is a low-fat starch that is high in protein and filled with amino acids.  This rapid adoption of quinoa in high-priced whole food stores has changed the economics of quinoa dramatically.  Peruvian and Bolivian farmers are selling at high prices with huge global demand.  Local consumers who have traditionally relied on this crop however, now have to pay triple the price to eat quinoa, causing some to question the ethics of quinoa consumption.  A simple change in cultural eating habits in one part of the world can have some major impacts on the economy and agriculture of another region.  

Tags: food, agriculture, South America, consumption, unit 5 agriculture.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, November 1, 2014 8:48 PM

Bolivia and Peru once enjoyed Quinoa as a locally grown grain that was used in a nutritious diet. However, because  other parts of the world are becoming increasingly accustomed to Quinoa it is driving the price of the grain in both countries, which is putting the locals in a tough pot because it is practically tripling in price. The poorer citizens are struggling to get Quinoa, something that they once got relatively easy.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 7:12 PM

This is an example of the harmful effect of globalization, those who grew quinoa for food are now forced to ship away their food source leading to starvation and a slew of other issues. Those in the west with their obsession with "Super Foods" have without realizing it driven up the price of this grain to the extend that those who relied upon it as their staple crop can no longer afford to eat it themselves.

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 3, 2015 12:54 PM

I remember walking into Panera Bread one morning a few months back. In the doorway, they had a sign that read, "Now serving Quinoa Oatmeal." I thought to myself, "What the hell is a Key-noah?" Now, it seems I can't go anywhere without hearing about this grain.


Touted as the super grain, Quinoa has been used for centuries as a source of sustenance for the dwellers of the Andes. But what happens when a traditional food source, only able to grow in a small region is suddenly desired by large parts of America and Europe? Supply and demand has kicked in and if it's more profitable to eat something else and sell your crop, then I'd imagine most folks would do just that like they are in the Andes. The problem with selling your main source of nutrition is that when you aren't eating it, you're not getting the nutrients you normally got. Is stripping a people of their ancestral food source and malnutrition worth it for a bowl of oatmeal at Panera?