03 November 2009
Deborah and Frank Popper "Extending the Idea of Buffalo Commons"
F a l l 2 0 0 9 L e c t u r e S e r i e s
Department of Landscape Architecture
Wednesday, November 4, 3:55 in Cook Douglass Lecture Hall
Speakers: Deborah and Frank Popper
"Extending the Idea of Buffalo Commons"
For a generation Deborah and Frank Popper have explored the idea of the Buffalo Commons as a sustainable future for the rural Great Plains, and their concept is succeeding on the ground. Now they expand the approach to other regions and to cities. The Poppers are now at work on a series of articles and a book extending the Buffalo Commons concept and related approaches to other depopulating rural regions (for instance, Appalachia, the Lower Mississippi Delta and northern New England), large and mid-sized shrinking cities (Detroit, St. Louis, Birmingham [Alabama] and Camden [New Jersey]) and comparable places abroad (central Spain, eastern France and the former East Germany).
Frankâ€™s article, "The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust" (Planning, December 1987), written with his wife, Deborah Popper, a geographer at the City University of New York, put forward the controversial Buffalo Commons idea that touched off a national debate on the future of the depopulating rural parts of the Great Plains region. The Poppers' Plains work was the subject of Anne Matthews' book Where the Buffalo Roam (1992), one of four finalists for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, and appeared in a second edition in 2002. The Poppersâ€™ work inspired Richard Wheelerâ€™s The Buffalo Commons (1998), a novel where the concept wins out in the end. They and their work appeared in documentary films such as Dreams Turn to Dust (1994), The Fate of the Plains (1995), The Buffalo Commons: The Return of the Buffalo (2008) and several forthcoming ones.
Biography / Academic Interests :
Deborah E. Popper is a Professor of Political Science, Economics and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. She received her Masters and her PhD from Rutgers. Her work has focused on how regions adjust to environmental pressures and population loss. With her husband, Frank Popper of Rutgers University, she developed the concept of the Buffalo Commons, a metaphor that has served as a guide for a future based on ecological restoration. They are currently working on developing comparable alternatives for other American regions
Frank J. Popper teaches in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, where he also participates in the American Studies, Geography, Human Ecology and Political Science Departments. He teaches regularly as a visiting professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Princeton University. He is author of The President's Commissions (1970) and The Politics of Land-Use Reform (1981), coauthor of Urban Nongrowth: City Planning for People (1976) and coeditor of Land Reform, American Style (1984). Professor Popper has served previously on the governing boards of the American Land Forum, the American Land Publishing Project, the American Planning Association, the Citizens Council on Land Use Research and Education, Ecocity Builders, and Urban Ecology. He now serves on the boards of the National Center for Frontier Communities (formerly the Frontier Education Center) and the Great Plains Restoration Council, helped found both and chairs the board of the latter. He has served on the editorial boards of American Land Forum, Journal of the American Planning Association, and Journal of Rural Communities and now serves on the editorial board of Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Geography, Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy: The Research Journal for the Great Plains, and APA [American Planning Association] Watchdog. He is a fellow of the American Geographical Society and a member of Shaping Tomorrow's Urban Futures Group.
Frank Popper is a graduate of Haverford College and has a master's degree in public administration and a doctorate in political science, both from Harvard University. He will spend all of the academic year 2008-2009 at Princeton University's Princeton Environmental Institute, where he will teach in the Environmental Studies Program as a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.