Highest and best may not be tall, but it’s still higher and better.

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Urban neighborhoods have been changing considerably over the last decade, and, in many locations, income levels have risen steadily. When we hear about gentrification, the coverage often reaches us through a few recurrent tropes: data-driven accounts of demographic and socioeconomic change; journalistic interviews of individuals who have either left or feel threatened by the rising …Read more…

Another defunct college campus, cleft in two.

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If I call this article my third installment in a trilogy on abandoned campuses, I guess that implies that I’m done with the subject for a while. And I am. But after exploring old campuses in small cities (or perhaps “big towns” is the better term) in Nebraska and South Dakota, it’s time to take a …Read more…

A new life for an old campus…where the students cannot leave.

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As I blogged about recently, the uncertainty following the closure of Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, has left a sizable portion of the town’s incorporated limits in a state of escalating neglect. While the downtown and residential districts of Blair remain tidy (if not exactly teeming with life), the small city’s most prominent institution is closed, most …Read more…

Social deviation: when tables and maps say more than our eyes.

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My previous article, on the Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel, illustrated perfectly how demographic differences can play out spatially. Kiryas Joel is an uncharacteristically high-density settlement filled with individuals who share an orthodoxy, whose high birth rate and dependence on federal aid often incurs the anger of the upper-middle class suburbs that surround it, known …Read more…

Installing one life form; inhibiting another.

I can’t resist the occasional opportunity to showcase egregious impediments on sidewalks, particularly in locations where it seems like the arguments for pedestrianism are strongest, like in the downtown of this country’s 29th largest metropolitan area, Kansas City, Missouri.  The east side of Grand Boulevard just north of East 10thStreet offers a continuous, urban street …Read more…

DUST: Bringing the basic training obstacle course inside the wire.

The integration of pedestrian infrastructure into the expeditionary base environment in Afghanistan has proven far less contentious than one might expect. A culture that prioritizes short-term efficiency over long-term functionality (at least partially evidenced by my article on building code violations from nearly a year ago) would seemingly scrutinize exclusively on infrastructure that accommodates gargantuan armored …Read more…

MONTAGE: Curbing destruction by rethreading the button.

I’m back from a lengthy time away from Afghanistan and have been trying to plug away at another blog article that incorporates infrastructure from several different countries, as well as the implications on American energy efficiency. But, as is often the case, a shortage of good, specific photos has become my Achilles’ heel. I will …Read more…

The safety of objects.

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The escalation of airport security after September 11th has unambiguously complicated air travel. Hardly a year has gone by since that tragic day without the introduction of a new major regulation, generally enforced by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The use of small box-cutters to intimidate the passengers of the four hijacked airplanes prompted the …Read more…

Even the cows can be crooked.

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Across most cultures, the animals that comprise what we would call “livestock” remain remarkably similar. Chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs, sheep, cattle, and horses are reliably visible in countries with widely variable climates and levels of industrialization. Some of this may be due to a commonly cultivated taste for the meat, milk, and eggs of these …Read more…

A new shade of pastoralism.

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An exploration in unfamiliar territory can often make the typically mundane landscape features pop out. This doesn’t require a great understanding of psychology: when we don’t know our surroundings that well, the employment of the senses becomes more of a conscious act. Much of western Kentucky, of which I am more familiar, is embedded in …Read more…