Hacking Public Spaces: Florence Street Art

On a recent trip to Italy, my daughter and I made time to enjoy the expressive Florentine street art. We especially liked the scuba-masked portraits by mystery artist “Blub” of the ‘L’arte Sa Nuotare’ or ‘Art Knows how to Swim’ project, and the hacked road signs of French artist Clet Abraham. Since we’d been looking at Clet’s work online earlier this year, it was a special treat for us to stumble upon his Florence studio (Via Dell ‘Olmo 8/R CAP 50125 Firenze, if you’re in visiting the city it’s on your way up to Piazzale Michelangelo).

7 Billion and Counting

Population is a complicated topic. There will soon be seven billion people on the planet. By 2045 global population is projected to reach nine billion. Can the planet take the strain? With the worldwide population slated to top 7 billion in 2011, National Geographic magazine  kicked off a year-long series of articles related to humanity’s remarkable growth spurt, with the first story focusing on the consequences of hitting 7 billion humans later this year and the basics of demography.

  1. Are there too many people on the planet?
  2. Are we in the “age of man?”
  3. Whathappens when our oceans become acidic?
  4. How will we cope with changing climate?
  5. Can we feed seven billion of us?
  6. Whatinfluences women to have fewer children?
  7. Is there enough for everyone?
  8. Are cities the cure for our growing pains?

Here is a video introduction to the series:

Read all the articles on NationalGeographic.com.

Transparency Infographic: Does Commuting By Car Make You Fat?

GOOD/Transparency provides a graphical exploration of the data that surrounds us. This infographic  depicts a “map” charting walking, biking, driving, and use of public transportation correlated with state obesity rate data (data sources: Trust for America’s Health; U.S. Census. Via Streetsblog).

It’s a simple equation: Exercise more and lose weight. Still, many people spend most of their time either behind a desk or driving to or from where that desk is located. A few states buck that trend with large cities that allow for more walking, biking, and commuting via public transportation, but are their citizens any more fit? This is a look at how people get to work in various states, alongside those states’ obesity rates.

SOURCE Transparency: Does Commuting By Car Make You Fat? – Transparency – GOOD.

A collaboration between GOOD and Hyperakt.

Where High-Speed Rail Works Best

Geography is about examining spatial variables and relationships, often to weed out answers to complex problems. America 2050‘s latest report, “Where High Speed Rail Works Best” (pdf) is a clear example of applied geography as it summaries the methodology used in planning a phased high speed rail network for the United States.

This paper offers one mechanism for assessing which potential high-speed rail corridors will have the greatest ridership demand based on population size, economic activity, transit connections, existing travel markets and urban spatial form and density. Defining the corridors in America that are most appropriate for high-speed rail service is critical to the long-term success of America’s high-speed rail program.

The authors evaluate 27,000 city pairs in the nation to create an index of city pairs with the greatest demand for high-speed rail service. The paper provides a list of the top 50 city pairs, which are primarily concentrated in the Northeast, California, and the Midwest, and provides recommendations for phasing corridor development in the nation’s megaregions.

An interactive web-map provides a quick view to the three-phase plan.

Kotkin on America in 2050

On May 18, 2010, geographer Joel Kotkin was interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show, discussing his new book The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 (The Penguin Press). This book envisions what America will look like 40 years from now when America grows in population from 300-million to 400-million.

Written from a geographer’s perspective (Charlie Rose’ first question is, “What does a geographer do?”), Kotkin takes an optimistic look forward based on the strengths of the American ideal and practical nature of the “millennials” (the generation born between 1983-2003, larger than the baby-boomers). Regarding trouble-spots, Kotkin stated that issues surrounding class (e.g., a growing gap between income and education levels) will be our most prominent challenges in the coming decade. Particularly Kotkin notes, we’re doing a bad job of preparing the 50-70% of kids who don’t go to college for skilled professions (i.e., vocational training) that produce good paying jobs on which you can raise a family. Kotkin asserts, “Basically we’re telling our kids, you either become a lawyer or a brain surgeon, you work at Target, or you deal drugs.” His book takes the perspective that there are other paths for us to focus on to narrow that gap and increase productivity. His overall perspective is positive and speaks of optimism and faith.

Joel Kotkin is a scholar on urban development, currently a fellow at Chapman University in Orange, CA and the Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank. A highly respected speaker and futurist, he consults for many leading economic development organizations, private companies, regions and cities. (thanks to S. Frost for this link)