“Biogotsburg of the Week” – Gardendale, Alabama

Source: en.wikipedia.org

This week’s golden middle finger award goes to Gardendale, Alabama,  a suburb north of Birmingham. Gardendale is the kind of place where if you don’t like the racial compostion of the school district, you simply create your own. Way to teach diversity, equality, and social equity to your students, Gardendale!  NOT!

Posted in Advocacy, Cities, civility, culture, diversity, education, humanity, inclusiveness, racism, social equity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reestablishing “true community”

Source: chandlerazinfo.com

In far too many aspects of our modern lives, there is no longer “true community,” as more and more people have physically and socially walled themselves off from one another through a variety of means. Physically, these may include dead-end or cul-de-sac streets; private roads and drives; gates and fences around properties; or worst of all, fully-gated communities, where access is tightly restricted by means of coded entry or guards. Socially, folks routinely wall themselves off through memberships in private clubs, schools and organizations, narrowly held friendships, and their choices in media.  

Gated communities, private memberships, and closed social media groups essentially tell others to, “stay the hell out unless invited into our private realm.” While the original intent may have been to increase personal security and privacy, such narrowness of scope largely serves to imprison those within more than wall out the rest of us. We can move about freely, while the “gated ones” are essentially honeycombed into their protective hive, only to venture out when necessary for food and sustenance. 

While some may find solely coexisting with their economic and social equals to be desirable, they seem to overlook the lost benefits of a “true community.” These include:

  • Exposure to greater diversity of cultures, ideas, and beliefs.
  • Earlier awareness and adoption of new and beneficial ideas and programs. 
  • Added safety and security from more eyes and ears in the vicinity.
  • Greater ease of access to the community as a whole.
  • Better understanding and improved communication among varied groups.
  • Enhanced empathy towards one another.
  • Greater communication and openness.
  • More opportunities for personal and individual growth.

What makes walling ourselves off from one another so dangerous, whether it be physically through gated communities, socially through our friendship choices, or digitally via our media choices, is the hive/fortress mentality that can develop as a result. Such attitudes harm both our individual psyche and society in general, as rigid “us versus them” viewpoints develop and populations break into tightly-knit splinter groups that detract from working towards mutually beneficial common good. 

Source: chatsworthconsulting.com

The silos, boxes, splinter groups, and physical gates that separate each other from a “commonist” (note – not communist) understanding only further drive destructive wedges between us. As the old saying states, “united we stand, divided we fall.” Well, in 2017, no truer phrase applies to the continuous fights between philosophies, ideologies, policies, and communities. And imprisoning ourselves within confined walls, whether they be physical or not only exacerbates the problem further.  

It is time to tear down the walls that separate us from one another. One can start by being willing to listen to alternative viewpoints in the media. This can be followed by avoiding or ending memberships in those private organizations that holistically separate us from our fellow human beings. Lastly, and most difficultly will be the removal of the physical and economic barriers that separate us. Prohibiting gated communities would be a first step in the physical realm while adopting a guaranteed basic income and single-payer healthcare would take major strides forward towards this economic goal. 

Posted in Advocacy, Cities, civics, civility, Communications, culture, diversity, education, family, geography, globalization, Housing, human rights, humanity, land use, politics, Privatization, social equity, Social media, spatial design | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Indian cities with the most high-rise buildings

Mumbai – Source: hindustantimes.com

Listed below are the 20 cities in India with the most high-rise buildings as defined by emporis.com. If the city is a suburb, the core city is listed next to it in parenthesis. Also shown in parenthesis at the end of each row are the number of high-rise buildings in each city that are considered to be skyscrapers by emporis.com.

  1. Mumbai = 2,789 (321)
  2. Guragon (Delhi) = 1,785 (15)
  3. Greater Noida (Delhi) = 1,115 (5)
  4. Navi Mumbai (Mumbai) = 1,077 (14)
  5. Noida (Delhi) = 1,019 (34)
  6. Pune = 905 (2)
  7. Thane (Mumbai) = 654 (6)
  8. Kolkata = 597 (21)
  9. Ghaziabad (Delhi) = 525 (0)
  10. Bangalore = 490 (7)
  11. Surat = 401 (0)
  12. Faridabad (Delhi)= 276 (0)
  13. Hyderabad = 201 (9)
  14. Chennai = 181 (1)
  15. Sonipat (Delhi) = 100 (0)
  16. New Delhi (Delhi) = 77/1
  17. Dharuhera (Delhi) = 62 (1)
  18. Mangalore = 61 (1)
  19. Dombiuli (Mumbai) = 35 (0)
  20. Lucknow = 35 (1)

Source: emporis.com

Posted in Asia, Cities, downtown, geography, India, land use, planning, skylines, skyscrapers, urban planning | Leave a comment

Poets of the pavement – local places with Poet Laureates

The list below identifies those cities, towns, villages, townships, shires, and counties which have a designated or appointed poet laureate.  It is meant to include only those with an active poet laureate position or which are searching for someone to fill the position. Any corrections or additions are most welcome, particularly for poet laureates of non-English speaking places.

Lastly, some places have a youth poet laureate, others have an adult poet laureate, while others have both. Unless otherwise noted by a ‘Y’ for youth or an ‘A and Y’ for adult and youth, the places listed refer solely to an adult poet laureate.

  • Alameda, CA
  • Albany, CA
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Andover, MA
  • Arlington, MA
  • Arlington, VA
  • Auburn, WA
  • Aurora, CO
  • Baltimore, MD (Y)
  • Banff, AB, Canada
  • Barrie, ON, Canada
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Belfast, ME
  • Belfast, UK
  • Belmont, CA
  • Benecia, CA
  • Berks County, PA
  • Birmingham, UK
  • Boise, ID
  • Boston, MA
  • Boulder, CO
  • Brantford, ON, Canada
  • Brentwood, CA
  • Brookline, MA
  • Bucks County, PA
  • Caddo Parish, LA
  • Calgary, AB, Canada
  • Canton, CT
  • Carrboro, NC
  • Charleston, SC
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Clark County, NV
  • Cleveland Heights, OH
  • Cobalt, ON, Canada
  • Cobourg, ON, Canada
  • Columbia, SC
  • Culver City, CA
  • Cupertino, CA
  • Danville, CA
  • Davis, CA
  • Denver, CO (Y)
  • Derbyshire, UK
  • Derry, NH
  • Door County, WI
  • Duluth, MN
  • Dunn, WI
  • Dutchess County, NY
  • Eau Claire, WI
  • Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • El Cerrito, CA
  • Emeryville, CA
  • Erie County, PA
  • Fairfield, CA
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Fresno, CA
  • Gainesville, FL (Y)
  • Glastonbury, CT
  • Gloucester, MA
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Gulfport, MS
  • Halifax, NS, Canada
  • Hamden, CT
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Hazelton, PA (Y)
  • Highland, IN
  • Hillsborough, NC
  • Houston, TX (A and Y)
  • Huron, OH
  • Kern County, CA
  • Key West, FL
  • Kingston, ON, Canada
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Laguna Beach, CA
  • Lake County, CA
  • Lancaster, PA (Y)
  • Lancaster County, PA
  • Lansing, MI (search underway)
  • Lewisville, TX
  • Livermore, CA
  • Logan, UT
  • London, ON, Canada
  • London, UK (Y)
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Gatos, CA
  • Lucas County, OH
  • Madison, WI
  • Malibu, CA
  • Marin County, CA
  • McAllen, TX
  • Memphis, TN
  • Milford, CT
  • Milton, ON, Canada
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Mississauga, ON, Canada
  • Modesto, CA
  • Montgomery County, PA
  • Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
  • Moscow, ID
  • Nanaimo, BC, Canada
  • Napa County, CA
  • Nashville, TN (Y)
  • Nassau County, NY
  • New Bedford, MA
  • New Britain, CT
  • New London, CT
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Newtown, CT
  • New Westminster, BC, Canada
  • New York City, NY (A and Y)
  • Norfolk County, ON, Canada
  • Norfolk, VA (Y)
  • North Andover, MA
  • Nottingham, UK (Y)
  • Oakland, CA (Y)
  • Ogden, UT
  • Old Saybrook, CT
  • Olympia, WA
  • Orange County, NY
  • Orlando, FL (search underway)
  • Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • Owen Sound, ON, Canada
  • Pacifica, CA
  • Peterborough, ON, Canada
  • Philadelphia, PA (A and Y)
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Plattsburgh, NY
  • Plymouth, UK
  • Portland, ME
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • Prince Georges County, MD (Y)
  • Prince William County, VA
  • Quad Cities, IA-IL
  • Queens, NY
  • Redmond, WA
  • Reno, NV
  • Richmond, CA
  • Rochester, NH
  • Rockland, ME
  • Sackville, NB, Canada
  • Sacramento, CA (A and Y)
  • Salinas, CA (Y)
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Luis Obispo County, CA
  • San Mateo County, CA
  • San Ramon, CA
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Santa Clara County, CA
  • Santa Cruz County, CA
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Seattle, WA
  • Shelburne, VT
  • Silver City, NM
  • Somerville, MA
  • Sonoma County, CA
  • South Windsor, CT
  • Spokane, WA
  • Springfield, MA
  • Staffordshire, UK
  • St. John’s NF, Canada
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Stockton, CA
  • St. Paul, MN
  • Sudbury, ON, Canada
  • Suffolk County, NY
  • Sunland-Tujunga, CA
  • Surrey, BC, Canada
  • Swampscott, MA
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Tacoma Park, MD
  • Tampa, FL
  • Tompkins County, NY
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Union Bridge, MD
  • Vallejo, CA
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Ventura County, CA
  • Victoria, BC, Canada
  • Volusia County, FL
  • Wallingford, CT
  • Washington, CT
  • Washington, DC (Y)
  • West Hollywood, CA
  • West Tisbury, MA
  • Windsor, ON, Canada
  • Winnepeg, MB, Canada
  • Winona, MN
  • Wocestershire, UK
  • Yacolt, OR
  • York, PA


Posted in art, cities, culture, entertainment, geography, humanity, literature, place names, Poem, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grand movie palaces of Northern Michigan

The handsome “Bay Theatre” in Suttons Bay (opened 1946)

The soon to be restored Boyne Theatre in Boyne City (opened 1906)

Frankfort’s “Garden” spot for movies (opened in 1923)

Beautiful Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City – the building was once a museum (built in the 1930s – converted to a theater in 2013)

Traverse City’s impressive State Theatre at night [opened in 1949 – replaced the Lyric Theater (1916) which had been destroyed by fire]

The “Ideal” place to see movies in Clare (opened in 1930)

The magnificent Vogue Theatre in Manistee (opened in 1938)

The lights of Broadway in Mt. Pleasant are being lovingly restored (opened in 1929)

The Strand Theatre – a playhouse in Alma – date unknown

Former Ward Theatre in downtown Mt. Pleasant (opened in 1937) – now a church

A real “Gem” of a movie theatre in St. Louis, MI – now a Blues music/festival venue (date unknown)

Elk Rapids Theatre (opened in 1940) – originally named the State – Source: flickr.com

Grayling’s beautiful Rialto (opened 1915) – Source: waterwinterwonderland.com

The State Theatre(s) in Alpena – Source: pinterest.com –  originally was the Maltz Opera House                                                                           (First opened 1883. After a fire, it was converted to a theatre in 1925)

Family Theater in East Tawas – Source: waterwinteerwonderland.com (opened in 1934)

Lake Theater in Oscoda – Source: yelp.com (opened in 1948)

Kingston Theater in Cheboygan – Source: flickriver.com (opened in 1920)

West Branch Cinema 3 – Source: flickr.com (date unknown)

Rogers Theater in Rogers City – Source: flickr.com (opened in 1937)


Posted in adaptive reuse, architecture, art, business, cities, downtown, economic development, entertainment, film, fun, geography, historic preservation, history, land use, movies, music, pictures, placemaking, planning, revitalization, Small business, theaters, tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4/5th’s of Fleetwood Mac are infinitely better than most musicians

Source: poconorecord.com

I bought the new album by Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie this week. You may wonder why I refer to 4/5th’s of Fleetwood Mac if the album is by only two members? Well, because, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie provide the percussion and bass on the album The only member of Fleetwood Mac absent is Stevie Nicks. 

Personally, I think Stevie made a huge mistake, because this is an excellent 10 song set that reawakens many of the best sounds of Fleetwood Mac, while offering toe-tapping and head-banging beats. It is amazing how 4/5’s of one of the greatest bands of all time can release an album 40 years later that blows most music by full bands (past and present) right out of the water. 

The minute they launch into the chorus of the opening track, “Sleeping Round the Corner,” you’d swear it was the late 70’s or early 80’s and Fleetwood Mac was at the top of their game. This sense of deja vu continues throughout the new album. I keep revising my order of favorite songs, but here’s the latest compilation (subject to change the more I listen to the album):

  • “Lay Down for Free” – love this song, though I would have preferred a guitar solo at the end
  • “Sleeping Round the Corner” – very catchy tune
  • “In My World”
  • “Red Sun”
  • “Love is Here to Stay”
  • “Carnival Begin” – wicked guitar solo at the conclusion
  • “Game of Pretend” – lovely vocals by Christine
  • “Feel About You”  

Check out the new 4/5’s Fleetwood Mac album on iTunes, YouTube, Soundcloud, or elsewhere. Is it groundbreaking? No, but it sure is helluva lot of fun!

Posted in art, entertainment, music, writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A physical Brexit with Iberian flair

Source: goodreads.com

Imagine, if you will, a place known as Iberia, a peninsula consisting of two great nations (Portugal and Spain). One day, for no apparent reason or cause, this geographic feature abruptly adopts a mind and a course of its own by detaching from Europe amidst the Pyrenees Mountains and floats out to sea. Interwoven with this macro geopolitical story is a micro one, depicted at a human scale, that follows five characters and a dog who wander the Iberian landscape in search of answers to what is happening to their respective homelands as a whole and to each of them individually.

I adored the first 2/3s of The Stone Raft and spent the last third wishing the book would never end. It takes about a chapter become accustomed to Jose Saramago’s unique and Nobel Prize winning style of writing. It is akin to Jack Kerouac’s spontaneous prose, but more like spontaneous conversation without quotation marks. The book was first published in 1986, but it is interesting to compare the dynamics of Iberia’s physical separation from Europe in the context of Brexit 30 years hence.

The fact that the Iberian Peninsula actually rests on its own tectonic plate adds more potential realism to Señor Saramago’s storyline, though only a few actually feel the Earth’s subtle movements taking place beneath them in the book.

To me, The Stone Raft is a story of hope rather than a dystopian novel. It’s a story of hope because these two groups – five weary travelers and a dog, as well as two very proud nations, are charting their way through unknown waters while being beset by a series of unique and varied circumstances. This search causes (or helps) them to break free of the geographic, physical, psychological, political, ethical, and sociological chains that have bound them while also opening their eyes to boundless new vistas and opportunities awaiting.

Posted in art, book reviews, books, entertainment, Europe, geography, Geology, globalization, government, history, humanity, literature, Maps, politics, topography, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment