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Isn't That Spatial?

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

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ITS014: Electrification of Cities

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On Episode 14, we’re telling the story of how America got electrified, from Edison to Tesla to a new little thing called “nightlife” and much more.

There was so much drama in how electric power came to be in America and how it became the hottest utility in all the land.

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ITS013: Geography of Breweries

We’re back! Welcome to Season 2 of Isn’t That Spatial!

Today’s episode covers the geography of breweries… from the beginnings of the homebrew movement, through that pesky Prohibition, to the rise of the major American brewing monoliths, to the more recent microbrewing and neolocalism trends across the entire country.

The US Census has crunched the numbers and found that the number of US breweries DOUBLED between 2007 and 2012 – that’s a phenomenon worth exploring! Plus, we kind of have a thing for kicking off each season with an imbibing-themed episode. Hmm…

This episode also marks Isn’t That Spatial’s first field trip and first interview! We went to Warren, Ohio to talk with our friend Adam of Modern Methods Brewing Company to check out a real microbrewery in the making and discover the spatial components of Adam’s operation. It’s a great community development story and a fun history lesson to boot

Anyway – show notes below! Enjoy! Er, Cheers!

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ITS012: The Geography of Sex Work

Hey, it’s the last episode of Season 1 of Isn’t That Spatial! Awwwwww! Thanks for sticking with me through this first season – I hope it was good for you, because it was really fun for me.

On this episode, we’re looking at the spatial component of the sex work industry, that “oldest profession in the world”. First, we touch on zoning of the sex-related businesses in general. Then, we dive into the history of the treatment of sex work (still known as “prostitution” to many) and its geography in public and private realms. Of course, we’ll also talk about Red Light Districts and sex work tourism.

How we’ve treated sex work over the centuries has much to do with the “where and why there” and the difference between empowered spaces for sex workers and oppressive ones.

This is such a good one! Plus, new music from Daniel Kirschenbaum!

See you next season, with new topics, new segments, new music, and same me!

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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

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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

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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”

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