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Isn't That Spatial?

a podcast dedicated to casual geography and the spatial component of whatever

ITS010: Spatial Topics In Music – Songs of Urban Renewal

Spatial Topics in Music is the series on this podcast where I select a geography theme and do a little dive into some of the popular songs that pay tribute to that theme.

On this episode, we’re listening to Songs of Urban Renewal – one of those city planning phenomena that kind of sounds like it should be a good thing. But don’t be fooled! It is/was terrible!

Urban renewal, popular but not limited to the 1950s-70s, has become known for basically tearing down good stuff and stuff associated with the working class and people of color, and replacing it with overly large and hideous highways, soulless surface parking lots, and behemoth office complexes that don’t exactly speak to the neighborhood context.

urban renewal protest sign
Urban Renewal protest sign in Boston

Continue reading “ITS010: Spatial Topics In Music – Songs of Urban Renewal”

ITS009: Cemeteries (!!!)

Hey gang, we’re halfway to Halloween so let’s have some fun with the utterly macabre, shall we?

On today’s episode, we’re looking the geography of cemeteries – those ubiquitous but often overlooked bastions of the sacred and the profane – the emotional and the utilitarian.

Aside from their personal and cultural significance, cemeteries have had an interesting impact on land use patterns and urban life. And the cemetery itself has its own internal geography and range of architectural features, which itself reflects the values and history of the town or city.

Show Notes + Sources

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ITS008: Geography of Memory

 

The built environment has long served as a mnemonic device for wayfinding or historical events. On this episode, we’re talking about spatial memory. Not so much about historic preservation, in the conventional sense, or formal archives that you might find in, say, a museum. Instead, we’re talking about memory of the more ephemeral elements of our urban spaces – how are we preserving the storefronts, signage, back alleys, street art, and informal social markers in our ever-changing world?

We’re looking at the creative ways that various urbanists and organizations are documenting, preserving, and keeping us in touch with the ever-changing and vanishing markers in our communities, increasingly in real time.

Ralph's Discount City

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ITS007: Immigrant Communities

We are quite familiar with the historical immigrant communities of older American cities such as Little Italy, numerous Chinatowns, a German Village here, a Slavic Village there, etc. These places have become landmarks in many of our cities.

We also continue to see geographically clustered communities spring up from newer immigrants in cities where you might not expect it. On this episode, we’ll look at how these older immigrant enclaves emerged and explore the newer trends in immigration in our cities and their impact. …Aside from giving us the ability to have bagels for breakfast, sushi for lunch, and molé for dinner in any town worth its salt.


 

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ITS006: Geography of Coffee Shops


According to the Small Business Development Center, 77% of Americans drink coffee daily and 66% of them buy their coffee from a coffee shop rather than brewing it at home. Not surprisingly then, there were about 20,000 coffee shop businesses in the U.S. with combined revenues of $10 billion in 2011.

Chances are, you have a favorite coffee shop or three in your area that you frequent either on the way to work, or as the place where you get work done or meet with a friend or social group. In this episode, I’m analyzing the history and geography of our beloved classic coffeehouse.
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Show Notes

Continue reading “ITS006: Geography of Coffee Shops”

ITS005: Spatial Topics in Music – Songs of the Suburbs

This episode is the first installment of a new feature we’re starting – Spatial Topics in Music – where I select a geography theme and do a little dive into some of the popular songs that pay tribute to that theme.

For this first one, we’re taking a listen to the Songs of the Suburbs. Yes, the suburbs – that geographic entity whose derision is as ubiquitous as its Starbucks and cul-de-sacs. As a mainstay of modern American life, it’s no surprise that quite a few lyrics have been penned to both laud and loathe it.

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Show Notes

Songs Featured + Referenced In This Episode

Ode to the Outskirts

Ray Charles, “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town”

The Beach Boys, “In My Room” + “Busy Doin’ Nothin'”

Pulp, “Joyriders”

Weezer, “In The Garage”

Suburban Ubiquity and Malaise

Pete Seeger, “Little Boxes”

The Monkees, “Pleasant Valley Sunday”

The Members, “Sounds of the Suburbs”

The Kinks, “Shangri-La”

suburban-punks
suburban punks
Full-on Angst/Ennui

Radiohead, “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”

David Bowie, “The Buddha of Suburbia”

Everything But The Girl, “Hatfield 1980”

The Wrens, “Won’t Get Too Far”

Daniel Johnston, “Devil Town”

ITS004: REPRESENT!

This episode examines the Geography of Political Representation.

What could be more spatial than the lines that combine and divide us to make up our political representative districts? On this episode, we will take just a peek at how we all get bundled together – or not – to get some representation – or not – in our legislative bodies. What is the makeup of our representation and is it fair and adequate? How did we get here and who is in charge? There has got to be a better way – right?

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Show Notes + Sources

Um, what are Congressional Districts? Via the Census.

Apportionment Method

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Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting

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World’s Most Egregiously Drawn District, the North Carolina 12th
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Maryland’s 3rd District makes a pretty creative showing, too.

Interactive Map of Congressional Districts and “Safety” Ratings

Gubernatorial and State Legislative Party Control, via Ballotpedia

Redistricting after the 2010 Census, via Ballotpedia

NC2010vs2012CongressionalRedistricting.png
Both major parties have had their shot at gerrymandering in NC.

Under-representation after the 2010 Census and Redistricting, via the Washington Post

Representation at the local level

Unintentional Gerrymandering of ourselves.

More on independent redistricting commissions

Pending court cases related to redistricting schemes

ITS003: Public vs. Private Ride-Hailing Services


Hey, have you heard about this Uber thing? On this episode, I’m looking at ride-hailing services – so-called public taxis versus newer, private app-based services such as Uber and Lyft (among many other players in the market). How do these services fit in to the urban transportation picture? Are the new private services the key to the gaps in our transportation system? Do they complement or harm the public taxi system, or the public transportation system for that matter?

***

Show Notes

From FiveThirtyEight:

In NYC, Uber and taxi cabs tend to share the same market –

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Ride-hailing paired with good public transportation can potentially replace the need for vehicle ownership in cities –

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Other Sources:

Cool NYC Taxi stats

Taxi history from Time Magazine

The Economist and The Globalist on Uber vs. Taxis

University of Chicago Law Review on the Social Costs of Uber

The Daily Caller on DC rethinking its public taxi services

Recent court ruling on tossing out taxi company complaints against Uber

Venture Beat weighing the problems and possibilities of private ride-hailing services

The moral quandary of public vs. private car services

ITS002: The Bicycle and Women’s Lib


We urbanists know and have heard much laud for the humble bicycle as a key piece of the multimodal transportation puzzle. But who knew the bicycle was such a feminist?! In this episode, we explore the modern bicycle’s role in enabling the increase of women’s participation in democracy and local advocacy.

law-abiding-women-suffragist
Image Courtesy of University of Virginia

***

Note:  I originally researched, wrote, and recorded this as episode 1 for release on November 9, 2016. And then…. Something unexpected happened and I scrapped the whole thing.

But hey, building off the momentum of the Women’s March this last weekend, this topic is still as relevant as ever and perhaps even more so than… back then.

So, I’ve re-recorded this episode – this time with a little less innocence and I think a bit more, mmm, presence.

***

Another Note!:  This episode frequently references Susan B. Anthony, the well-known women’s suffragist, who also happened to be on the record lauding the bicycle during the period of time I discuss in this episode. Let’s keep in mind here that she certainly wasn’t the only major actor in the women’s suffrage movement and Ms. Anthony must also bear some controversy with her name. I just wanted to make that clear. Onward!

***

Show Notes

Sources:

The Atlantic

The Library of Congress 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times over

Cambridge University Archives

How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle by Frances E. Willard

Objections to Women on Wheels:

“The Bicycle Indicted” – This bulletin from 1896 begins, “The Women’s Rescue League intends to begin a national crusade against the use of the bicycle by women.” Cool.

Maysville, KY evening bulletin, 1896 – “Just what relation exists between the bicycle and eternal salvation or destruction of the soul is a question of importance…”

The advocate. (Topeka, Kan.), 09 Jan. 1895.

christmas-cycle-costume
Image Courtesy of The Library of Congress

How do like my Christmas Cycle Costume?

Calling for a “rational dress” while cycling

The Rational Dress, explored by the St. Paul Globe (1897)

THEY RIDE BIKES (The Wichita Daily Eagle, 1894)

More on the rational dress phenomenon

Inclusionary Biking

Lots of good work on exploring inclusivity in biking culture and creating a fairer environment for bikers of all sorts of backgrounds

Check out these fun ladies and their work supporting the community of women of color who bike (or would like to)

Featured Music

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“Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” by Harry Dacre – This song was considered rather progressive at the time as it helped to normalize the image of a woman on a bicycle (with a male counterpart, of course).

Sesame Street – Mary Had A Bicycle (full version) – YouTube

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