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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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planning

China is trying to turn itself into a country of 19 super-regions

"China’s urbanization is a marvel. The population of its cities has quintupled over the past 40 years, reaching 813m. By 2030 roughly one in five of the world’s city-dwellers will be Chinese. But this mushrooming is not without its flaws. Restraining pell-mell urbanization may sound like a good thing, but it worries the government’s economists, since bigger cities are associated with higher productivity and faster economic growth. Hence a new plan to remake the country’s map.

The idea is to foster the rise of mammoth urban clusters, anchored around giant hubs and containing dozens of smaller, but by no means small, nearby cities. The plan calls for 19 clusters in all, which would account for nine-tenths of economic activity (see map). China would, in effect, condense into a country of super-regions."

Source: www.economist.com

This type of plan would have been politically and economically unthinkable in years past, but the time-space compression (convergence) has made the distances between cities less of a barrier.  High-speed transit in the form of bullet trains link cities to other cities within the cluster more tightly together and the threshold of the functional region expands.  While some of these clusters are more aspirational, the top three (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing) are already powerful global forces. 

Scoop.it Tags: urbanregions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

WordPress TAGS: urban, regions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

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How to Build a Smart City

We are in the midst of a historic (and wholly unpredicted) rise in urbanization. But it’s hard to retrofit old cities for the 21st century. Enter Dan Doctoroff. The man who helped modernize New York City — and tried to bring the Olympics there — is now C.E.O. of a Google-funded startup that is building, from scratch, the city of the future.

Source: freakonomics.com

Urbanism isn’t just the study of urban geography as it is, but it also looks to use ideas of design, architectural, transportation, and sustainability to create better cities.  This Freakonomics podcast looks at ways that New York City has changed, with ideas of how to start a new city being experimented with in Toronto.  This 99PI podcast looks at European urbanist ideas that shaped many cities that were damaged during WWII (part II).  Successful cities bring in more residents which bring higher housing costs–so can a city be too successful for it’s own good?  San Francisco grapples with changing economic issues as it is too expensive to hire workers to fill low-skill jobs

 

Tagsurbanism, podcast, architecturetransportation, housing, place, planning.

South Africa Is Still Under Apartheid

“More than two decades after the end of apartheid in South Africa, Cape Town remains racially segregated, with many black residents living in substandard townships.”

Source: www.youtube.com

The title is a bit inflammatory–news agencies may pretend that they aren’t in the shock-and-awe, clickbait economy, but they invented the salacious headline to grab our attention.  Still, the racial inequities of a system as pervasive as apartheid aren’t going to be reversed in a generation and the racial differences in Capetown are coming under more international scrutiny as the they are in the midst of their current drought.

 

Tags: South Africa, Africarace, ethnicityneighborhood, urban, planning, drought, water, urban ecology.   

The Geography of AC

“The modern built environment in the United States is now totally dependent on air conditioning. A lot of our buildings would be uninhabitable in the summer without AC, and all of the electricity needed to keep it running.”

Source: 99percentinvisible.org

Like so many 99 percent invisible podcasts, this blends urban design, social geography, local history in a way that deepens our understanding of place. Air conditioning has powerfully reshaped so many geographic patterns that many of ways.  Some mentioned in this podcast include: a) the rapid expansion of the Sun Belt, b) less climatically and regionally distinctive architecture can now be found in the cultural landscape, and c) an enormous amount of energy is consumed to maintain our hyper-cooled buildings (the U.S. now uses as much electricity for air conditioning as it did for all purposes in 1955). 

 

Tagspodcast, architecturehousing, landscape, place planning.

The ‘War on Sitting’ Has a New Front

Cities are removing benches in an effort to counter vagrancy and crime—at the same time that they’re adding them to make the public realm more age-friendly.

Source: www.citylab.com

Geography explores more than just what countries control a certain territory and what landforms are there.  Geography explores the spatial manifestations of power and how place is crafted to fit a particular vision.  Homeless people are essentially always ‘out of place.’  These articles from the Society Pages, Atlas Obscura, the Atlantic and this one from the Guardian share similar things: that urban planners actively design places that will discourage loitering, skate boarding, and homelessness, which are all undesirable to local businesses.  This gallery shows various defensive architectural tactics to make certain people feel ‘out of place.’  Just to show that not all urban designs are anti-homeless, this bench is one that is designed to help the homeless (and here is an ingenious plan to curb public urination).  

    

Tags: urbanplanning, architecture, landscape, place, poverty.

Braves’ New Ballpark Is An Urban Planner’s Nightmare 

“The Braves chose to relocate to Cobb County from downtown Atlanta’s Turner Field after only 19 years because of a $400 million public subsidy from Cobb taxpayers. The costs are almost certain to balloon thanks to some significant fiscal buffoonery on the part of Cobb officials, including a lack of a comprehensive transportation plan and forgetting to ask the Braves to pay for traffic cops. Attached to SunTrust Park like a Cinnabon-scented goiter is the Battery Atlanta, a $550M mixed-used development that looks an awful lot like a New Urbanist project, the widely criticized school of planning that is equal parts social engineering and neoliberalism. SunTrust isn’t solely accessible by car—the Braves run a stadium shuttle bus that serves a couple of outer MARTA stations—but, compared to the team’s former home, the non-motorized options are paltry.”

Source: deadspin.com

There are many great geography angles to look at this particular issue.  The scale of governance matters in creating the political context for any given situation.  In this article, we see City vs. County vs. Metropolitan regional politics jockey for position, putting the interest of their own county above that of the larger metropolitan region.  We also see competing visions of ideal urban planning (a more sprawling, automobile-centered model vs. public transit, multi-use planning that is enclosed vs. open) all layered upon racial and socio-economic context of this particular place.   

 

Tagsarchitecture, scale, sport, urban, planning, urbanism, economic.

When Climate Change Meets Sprawl: Why Houston’s ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ Floods Keep Happening

But a local understanding of place is critical and this viral post–Things non-Houstonians Need to Understand–is pretty good.

“Unchecked development remains a priority in the famously un-zoned city, creating short-term economic gains for some, but long term flood risk for everyone.”

Source: projects.propublica.org

Houston’s development boom and reduction of wetlands leave region prone to more severe flooding.  Here is a great map of the change in impervious surfaces in the region from 1940 to 2017–when you combine that with record-breaking rainfall the results are catastrophic.  But a local understanding of place is critical and this viral post–Things non-Houstonians Need to Understand–is pretty good.   

Tagsphysical, fluvialwatercoastal, urban, planningtransportation, architecture.

The walkable city

How do we solve the problem of the suburbs? Urbanist Jeff Speck shows how we can free ourselves from dependence on the car — which he calls “a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device” — by making our cities more walkable and more pleasant for more people.

Source: www.ted.com

In the 2017 APHG exam, there was a question that dealt with new urbanism and walkability.  This TED talk from Jeff Speck gives a good sense of what planners believe in new urbanism are trying to do (you can also watch his earlier TED talk, 4 ways to make a city more walkable). Here also is information on New Urbanism (dot org) from it’s practicioners, such as the Congress on New Urbanism.  Lastly, here is an academic article reviewing the critiques of new urbanism with rebuttals.    

 

Tagsplace, neighborhood, urban, planningtransportation, urbanism, scale, TED, video.

Mapping Coastal Flood Risk Lags Behind Sea Level Rise

Federal maps help determine who on the coast must buy flood insurance, but many don’t include the latest data. Maryland is now making its own flood maps, so homeowners can see if they’re at risk.

Source: www.npr.org

Geographic themes are overflowing (it was an unintended pun, but I’ll just let that wash over you) in this podcast.  I suggest playing a game early in the year/semester called “find the geography.”  What geographic theme/content areas will your students find in this podcast? 

 

Tagspodcast, mapping, cartography, climate change, environment, watercoastal,  urban, planningurban ecology.

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