18 July 2019

Trendy ideas

"Apart from technology, fashion is one of the means by which young people reserve the right to torment the old."   - Chris Fleming

A new post at The Chronicle, "The Tyranny of Trendy Ideas," describes/decries a longstanding issue for academia. And, while some of the specifics are hard to translate into GIS, landscape architecture or environmental planning, the essay captures some feelings that will be familiar to many of us.

As we are confronted with new terms and ideas and theories, we have to keep evaluating them to figure out which will linger and which are little more than vapor. But, as Fleming points out, some of them turn out to be useful. If you initially ignored urban agriculture or green infrastructure when the ideas first emerged, the penalty probably wasn't that high. But even if those ideas get renamed/rebranded/redirected over the next few years, you can see that they have been very useful. And for now, they have become important threads of conversation and practice.

Maybe it is because our fields place such heavy emphasis on application, but even conversations about ephemeral issues still often seem to be useful. I remember a couple academic papers that made way too much of a popular Malcolm Gladwell book. And, while their effort capitalize on the author's popular ideas may not have been terribly meaningful, the result was a reframing of some ideas in our field that sparked real conversations about our need to re-examine the assumptions and driving forces of GIS, landscape architecture or environmental planning.

For us, I think that the warning about chasing trends is real, but the dangers might be less than other fields where dead ends seem to collect far more people.

16 July 2019

Replacing the sandbox with the virtual table?

We have had a digital sandbox for a few years. But now when someone asks what is next, I wonder if it is the virtual table. This example shows how it could be a group interactive planning scenario tool. As is common with new tools, it is hard to tell initially how much is "gee whiz" novelty and how much is genuinely engaging for exploration. But this video from Garsdale Design  is certainly intriguing.

08 July 2019

Art map

The UCGIS summer symposium in DC featured a variety of talks on the spatial humanities. So it was fascinating to see the NY Times post an interactive map of the source of the Whitney's American art, by years, that shows both how influential NYC was initially, but also how they eventually grew to be more broadly inclusive.

18 June 2019

Single family cities?

The NY Times has a new richly-illustrated piece from Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui that asks how our cities can live without density. The heart of the analysis is a series of 10 maps showing how major American cities are divided between single family homes and all other forms of housing. Of the cities they mapped, only DC and NYC have less than 50% single family units. The article is expansive and includes intriguing quotes from multiple faculty who raise fundamental questions about zoning as a tool.

And, they get through the entire piece without ever using the phrase, "Not in my backyard".

03 June 2019

SNAP and Food Environment

The latest issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is out. The Geohealth Lab @ CRSSA contributed to one of the cover stories, Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Dietary Behaviors: Role of Community Food Environment. With seven coauthors, it is clear evidence of the value of multidisciplinary Team Science. But the lead author is Dr. Cori Lorts whose work deserves cover page attention. The paper look at how children relying on SNAP are impacted, also, by where they live and the food environment of their neighborhood.

30 May 2019

An educational loss

The Wall Street Journal (free for Rutgers students) reported on the closure of Green Mountain College. While losing any school after 185 years is hard, losing a school with a focus on sustainability is especially concerning. Much of the story in the WSJ (an other papers) focuses on the impact on Poultney, NH where jobs and real estate and a sense of identity and community are all severely disrupted. But coming on the heels of the most recent UN report on the environmental crisis, it is curious that there isn't more reporting asking about what this could mean as a larger trend.

08 May 2019

Top 10 Shapers

Thinking back over the Top 10 Shapers of the American Landscape, I would recommend a fun Reading Day readingBy John Muir in The Atlantic Monthly in April 1898, The Yellowstone National Park.

Here is the list of Top 10 Shapers that I presented, in alphabetic order. For comparison purposes I have linked each one to its entry in Wikipedia, but these are not definitive descriptions.

07 May 2019

04 May 2019

Louisiana storm surge maps

The new interactive storm surge risk maps recently released by the National Hurricane Center show a Category 5 hurricane could push at least 9 feet of water into Baton Rouge. But I am more worried about the rapidly growing areas Ascension Parish which get wet in even the mildest scenarios. 

02 May 2019

Foxconn designs vs. deliverables

The story of Wisconsin's recruitment of Foxconn to Racine County is complicated and incomplete. It includes a CEO running for president of Taiwan and President with his own history of eminent domain abuse.  I won't try to explain it all here, but the WSJ has a new look this week. It includes some threats of eminent domain abuse:
"The village bought hundreds of pieces of property, holding out the possibility of enforcing eminent domain. It worked out deals with Racine County, the water authority and the power company to bring services to the site. The state legislature agreed to bypass some permitting processes, letting Foxconn fill wetlands without getting an environmental-impact statement. The state received a $160 million federal grant to help expand Interstate 94 a decade ahead of schedule."
One of the other issues is where the water for the project will come from. Urban Milwaukee asks whether the plant merits permission for a water diversion, as it straddles the line between the Mississippi and Great Lakes Basins.

Reply All recorded an episode of their podcast on the project.

A local paper reports that the really futuristic stuff is still coming, next year.

But The Verge looks at this asking how anyone is taking these seriously:
"The secrecy and vagueness are frustrating to critics. How do you prove that Foxconn won’t build an enormous LCD factory during an industry glut or create a research campus larger than MIT in rural Wisconsin other than by pointing out that experts — and even, occasionally, Foxconn executives — say it makes no sense?"
But to really understand the sales pitch, you have to see the designs that were proposed for the Wisconn Valley properties. Racine County has shared this video which captures the vision. And it raises the frequent concerns about the difference between the sci-fi representations and buildable realities.

30 April 2019

Prescription Parks

As we wrap up National Landscape Architecture Month, I am excited to see that the prescription parks movement is getting new attention, especially with some mapping of the parks in and around Washington DC. ASLA's The Dirt returns to this topic to capture how it continues to grow and offers some new details. The integration of the medical community and the use of the phone app make this old idea seem new again. And for landscape architecture, it just reemphasizes the important role that we can have in improving health in our communities.

29 April 2019

GIS Job in Colorado

The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies (GES) at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) invites applications for a full-time, 12-month geospatial technologies specialist to begin July 1, 2019.  Responsibilities include 1) teaching 12 credit hours of introductory-level geospatial courses per year, 2) maintaining GES servers,  the GES geospatial laboratory, and the GIS classroom to support the technology required for the delivery of courses, 3) managing online / cloud-based geospatial software accounts and live server connections, 4) managing GIS mapping and spatial data analysis platforms, 5) managing interactive online teaching and learning activities between users, 6) working collaboratively with university IT staff to ensure software environments are updated and hardware peripherals function, 7) supporting the GES GIS Certificate Program, and 8) supporting faculty and students with research, applied projects, and individualized instruction. 

Requirements for all applicants are 1) a minimum of two years of professional experience configuring, maintaining, and administering ArcGIS Server and SQL Server, 2) a minimum of two years of professional experience providing day-to-day functioning and oversight of a professional or academic GIS program, 3) a plan to develop strategies that would contribute to the department, college, and campus mission, 4) experience teaching a minimum of one course in introductory-level geospatial technology equivalent to GES 2050 - Digital Earth and GES 3030 - Introduction to GIS as instructor of record and/or as teaching assistant, and 5) a Master’s degree in geography, GIScience or related geospatial field conferred by July 1, 2019. The University of Colorado offers a comprehensive benefits package. Information on benefits programs can be found at: https://www.cu.edu/employee-services/benefits.

Salary Range:  $60,000 to $64,000

Applications received by May 1, 2019 will receive full consideration. Applications submitted through email or surface mail are not considered. Contact Dr. Diep Dao (tdao@uccs.edu) or Dr. Brandon Vogt (bvogt@uccs.edu) with questions.

Submit a cover letter, resume/cv, unofficial transcripts, and contact information for five references to: https://cu.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?job=16032&lang=en&sns_id=mailto#.XJ7azP8yb4k.mailto

28 April 2019

We have a winner!

StreetsBlog USA has chosen a winner in its competition to find the 2019 Parking Madness Champion. The finals came down to 2 cities that each did their best to fill (or replace) a parking crater with a real use of the land. You will have to read their explanation to see who won.

13 April 2019

GIS Summer job

Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron NM is looking for a summer Conservation GIS Coordinator.  Dates are flexible, mid May through August.  Great position for a Bachelor or Grad student with experience in Esri’s ArcGIS Technologies who enjoys the outdoors.  

For questions about this position and other Philmont Scout Ranch conservation job opportunities, contact: John Celley Recreation Resource Manager Philmont Scout Ranch john.celley@scouting.org (575) 376-2281 x1249