Brookings, the southwesternmost municipality in the state of Oregon, features a main street with a level of business activity that betrays its general charmlessness. Plenty of similarly sized communities would kill to have a downtown with a low level of vacancy, a fully functional old-school cinema, and even a few white-tablecloth independently owned restaurants.
By this point, it’s not unusual to encounter a series of trash receptacles in public places, each with distinct labels, allowing passers-by to sort and separate recyclable from non-recyclable waste. On a college campus, it would be far more surprising if a row of receptacles weren’t standing sentinel at every prominent node; the opportunity to
This article will feature an assertion I’ve made in the past, and I have ruffled feathers for it then. In all likelihood, I’ll ruffle a few more this time around. Yet I’m sticking to my guns. So here goes: far too many communities embrace the notion of urban parks as an absolute good—of parks for
Cliché though it may be, the world offers plenty of evidence that “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Travel through the most rugged parts of West Virginia, and it’s easy to find a small burg nestled in the valley between uncompromising hills. Human settlements stretch far north of the Arctic Circle, with Inuit populations
Many years ago I wrote an article exploring how trees of the palm family are widespread throughout southern Louisiana (specifically the New Orleans region), though they are not indigenous. In other words, they grow there quite easily but it is not their native habitat. If anything, the presence of palms in the southern US—or at
Within the lower 48, one the humblest of great border crossings is the Delaware Water Gap, separating Pennsylvania and New Jersey.My use of an oxymoron—“humblest” coupled with “great”—is deliberate. Because in most respects (certainly from a flatlander like me) it’s a geographic marvel, yet, outside of the surrounding region, little evidence suggests that it’s a
The climate of the American high plains may not be completely desert-like, but the similarities are uncanny: relatively little rain or moisture in the air, a temperature that plunges at night throughout the year, considerable variation between summer and winter, but fiercely hot in the former. Many of these characteristics incidentally bespeak high altitudes more
On a serene stretch of Interstate 70 in western Maryland—west of Hagerstown but not yet to the point where the freeway veers sharply northward into Pennsylvania—it’s still possible in mid April to see some antiquated power lines that parallel the road, even as dusk approaches. The foliage isn’t yet thick enough, so there they are.
Traveling along I-78 through northern New Jersey, about twelve miles west of Newark, drivers experience a reprieve from the endless array of New York suburbs as they speed through the Watchung Reservation. On a map, it looks like this:But, despite the fact that it’s fundamentally a forest preserve, the infrastructure is a bit more sophisticated
While it may seem self-evident that unusual, off-kilter, visually distinctive environments are the most fertile grounds for experimentation, this isn’t always the case. Take this one: In most respects, it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill shopping center—a “Power Center”, to use the correct retail brokerage lingo—called Fairlane Green, in the western suburb of Detroit known as Allen