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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

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sport

At Seattle Mariners games, grasshoppers are a favorite snack

“Chapulines [grasshoppers] have become a snack favorite among baseball fans in Seattle. Follow their path from Oaxaca, Mexico, to Safeco Field. To many, the insect might be a novelty – a quirky highlight for an Instagram story from a day at the ballpark. To those in Mexico consuming them for centuries, they are a building block of nutrition.”

Source: www.espn.com

Eating insects is incredibly nutritious; raising them is cost effective and environmentally sustainable. And yet, the cultural taboos against entomophagy in the West are barriers to the cultural diffusion of the practice.  At some baseball games and high-end restaurants, grasshoppers are sold as a novelty item.  What I especially enjoy about this ESPN article is that it covers the cultural production of the chapulines in Mexico and follows the story to the consumption of the grasshoppers in the United States.  

 

Tags: sport, popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms, foodMexico, economic, agriculture.

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The brutal world of sheep fighting: the illegal sport beloved by Algeria’s ‘lost generation’

“Algeria’s ‘lost generation’ has been shaped by years of conflict, unemployment and state repression. Sheep fighting offers an arena where young men can escape the constant supervision of the state.”

Source: www.theguardian.com

I must confess that it was a mixture of morbid curiosity, the allure of the strangely exotic, with more than a dash of horror that initially impelled me to read this article.  If if is not your thing (and I’m guessing that by the title you should already know), I certainly understand and don’t recommend that you read it.  However, there was some intriguing geography in the article as it painted a bleak picture of disenfranchised young men in a pent-up country that did not experience an Arab Spring.  Some elements in this article that I thing might intrigue geography teachers are: the pastoral folk culture of North Africa impacting their popular culture pastimes, complexly gendered cultural customs and place-based cultural politics.   

 

Tags: culture, gendersport, folk cultures, Algeria, Middle East.

Korean Baseball 101: Way Beyond the Bat Flips

Baseball in South Korea is more than a game. It’s akin to a religion. American missionaries first brought the sport to the peninsula in 1905, and the country absolutely loved it. Today, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) features 10 teams and a unique sporting culture all its own. The city of Busan and its hometown Lotte Giants have a particularly passionate fan base. From the hitters’ flashy bat flips, to the team’s famous “cheermaster” and its unlikely American super fan, consider this is your crash course on the joyful madness that is Lotte Giants fandom.

Source: www.youtube.com

If a sport (or other cultural practice) diffuses to a new place, is it going to look exactly the same as it does in the original cultural hearth? The bat flip is the go-to difference between Korean and American baseball, but there are other differences.  Maybe, or like baseball in South Korea, it can have a culture all its own. This is an interesting story that shows how the diffusion of cultural traits around the globe doesn’t have to lead to a more bland cultural mosaic. As cultural traits are reterritorialized into new places, they add vibrancy to the cultural fabric of the institution/sub-culture that they’ve adopted.

Tags: sport, popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms, South Korea, East Asia.

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.

Mexico City 1968

“The 1968 Olympics took place in Mexico City, Mexico. It was the first Games ever hosted in a Latin American country. And for Mexico City, the event was an opportunity to show the world that they were a metropolis as worthy as London, Berlin, Rome or Tokyo to host this huge international affair. The 1968 Olympics were decreed ‘the Games of Peace.’ So Wyman designed a little outline of a dove, which shop owners all over the city had been given to stick in their windows. A protest movement, led by students, was growing in the city around [the organizers and designers]. These protestors believed the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) catered to wealthy Mexicans rather than the poor, rural and working class. Although the country had been experiencing huge economic growth, millions of people had still been left behind. The ‘Mexican Miracle’ hadn’t reached everyone.”

Source: 99percentinvisible.org

Few years are as powerful in the minds of Mexican identity as the year 1968.  Like so many 99 percent invisible podcasts, this blends urban design, social geography, local history in a way that deepens our understanding of place. The built environment can be molded to project an image, and can be used to subvert that same message by the opposition.    

 

Tagssport, Mexico, Middle America, urban, architecture, place, landscape.

 

In the Same Ballpark

“In 1992, the Baltimore Orioles opened their baseball season at a brand new stadium called Oriole Park at Camden Yards, right along the downtown harbor. The stadium was small and intimate, built with brick and iron trusses—a throwback to the classic ballparks from the early 20th century. It was popular right from the start.

These new Populous ballparks are small and old fashioned-looking but they also feature modern amenities—comfortable seats and fancy foods. And while designed to be different, they tend to follow a similar aesthetic format, featuring a lot red brick and green-painted iron. These new parks also feature asymmetrical playing fields, which are in many cases dictated by the surrounding cityscape.”

Source: 99percentinvisible.org

This podcast is filled with important urban geographic issues: downtown revitalization, landscape aesthetics, sense of place, planning, public/private revitalization, etc.  And to boot, this podcast uses America’s pasttime to discuss these topics. I typically really enjoy the thoughtful exploration of the untold stories that make up our world found in the 99 Percent Invisible podcast.

Pro Wrestling and Economic Restructuring

“For decades, professional wrestling in North America operated under a system of informally defined ‘territories.’ Each territory represented an individual promotion with its own stable of talent that drew crowds to local arenas and broadcast the product on regional television stations. In 1982, Vince McMahon purchased his father’s company, the World Wrestling Federation. For almost two decades, he endured an epic conquest of the pro wrestling world that led to where he is today: standing tall as the undisputed king of the industry.”

Source: www.youtube.com

This may seem like a strange video for geography educators and students.  In one sense, the history of a wrestling entertainment business is trivial, but this provides a great example of how using economies of scale can overcome regional advantages as new technologies enter the market.  Maybe is not a ‘real’ sport, but the example of wrestling might pique a few students’ interest as the economic principles are made manifest. 

 

Questions to Ponder: How do emerging technologies lead to economic disruption?  Why was regional systems so prevalent in the 1950s and1960s?  If Vince McMahon didn’t pursue this plan, would there still be smaller, regional wrestling organizations?  Why or why not? 

 

Tags: regions, economic, diffusiontechnologysport, industry

America’s Best Long Trails

Plan your next big hike with this map of America’s most-loved long trails.

Source: www.backpacker.com

My uncle hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail and as a kid the enormity of that feat was both inspirational and mind-boggling.  Recently I watched an incredible documentary about an ultra-marathoner’s quest on Vermont’s Long Trail (Finding Traction: free on Amazon Prime–trailer here).  While I doubt most of us could go the full length of these trails given our jobs, fitness levels, etc., I do think that getting outside to explore some of the physical environments in our local areas this summer sounds like a fantastic idea (high-res map here).  

 

Tags: transportation, landscape, place, sportphysical, environment, mappingmap.

Brexit, UK, Great Britain, and England

“An update of an earlier sketch we did before Brexit, the situation has become a little more unclear since.”

Source: www.youtube.com

The difference between the UK, Great Britain, and England can be confusing (the short version can be shown on a map, but the long version is much more complicated than this).   This is an amusing look at how these complexities lead to real-world complications besides using the right toponym. 

 

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