About Me

Currently a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, I study urban sociology and inequality. Originally from Western Pennsylvania, I am particularly interested in how changes in regional economic structures effect stratification and mobility opportunities, particularly for the working class. I also participate in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interesting Links, 7/26/11

When the magazine was still being printed, I was a huge fan of SEED Magazine.  Unfortunately, since they stopped printing a paper copy, I have had difficulty motivating myself to follow their work as much.  It seems that their bloggers are still hard at work, and the magazine is generating interesting content, though.  For instance, there is this article from last January where Herbert Gans argues for a restructuring of the social sciences.  Interesting.

One of my favorite SEED articles, ever, though was Lehrer's article on applying the idea of metabolism to the metropolis.  Lehrer is the author of one of my favorite books - Proust was a Neuroscientist.  This article, like that book, brings disciplines together to examine what we know about something - in this case, how a city functions.  Similar to an article I linked to in a previous post, this one examines West's approach to understanding the physics of the city. This article specifically looks at how the idea of metabolism might help us understand the city.  Here's some of the interesting stuff in the article: 
"Cities are like elephants. They get more economical with size... every city is simply a scaled version of the same city. In metropolis after metropolis, the indicators of urban “metabolism”—like the per-capita consumption of gasoline or the surface area of roads or the total length of electrical cables—scaled to an exponent of (population)0.8, which is very similar to the biological equivalent of (mass)0.75. This means that a city can double its population without doubling its resource consumption."

Moving on, it seems that some of the current unemployment problem may be attributable to skills mismatch, even among folks who've had some schooling after high school. 

The hubbub about the temporary closing of the 405 in Los Angeles last week remind me of this article I saw a while ago about how some cities are moving away from building new highways, even occasionally tearing down freeways.  It seems that some cities are finding it more cost effective to close a freeway than to maintain it. And as the author of the article notes: 
"This is the city planner's dream: Take out an underused freeway, open up land for new businesses or parks and magically more workers will move back to the city and property values will soar. So far, though, the results have been mixed."

And here are two interesting articles that have something to do with housing.  First, there is a house at which 2,000 companies are registered.  A new kind of urban density, I suppose.  

Next, how many people do you know who have experienced homelessness?  What sense do you have of homelessness?  Have you ever volunteered at a shelter, or heard the story of a homeless person?  Here is a great article about a project to bring young adults into contact with ex-homeless individuals.  This is cool stuff.

Since becoming active on Twitter and following individuals and organizations doing work relevant to urban sociology, I have been seeing some interesting stuff.  A call center moving from a blogger's home city to another city has him wondering if people, particularly local politicians should be thinking in terms of a new regionalism.  I liked this quote:
"Also importantly, metro regions don't necessarily need to conceive of themselves as businesses trying to "steal" market shares away from other regions. Indeed, under constructive regionalism, our cities (and their hinterland) could aim to create (vs. attract) wealth and well-being using their own resources (human, natural, agricultural, technological, artistic, etc.) in a way that is ecologically responsible, socially beneficial and economically efficient. I hope you will excuse the use of this old clich√©, but there's not reason why we can't make the pie bigger (as opposed to serving smaller and smaller portions of the same size pie)."

Also found on Twitter and relevant to regionalism is this post comparing the economies of metropolitan areas to countries of the world (there is a cool map, too).

Finally, several films have been filmed in Pittsburgh recently.  I saw this trailer before the midnight showing of Harry Potter I attended, and while the movie looks iffy, the parkour scenes filmed in PNC Park look awesome.  But as interesting as these movies being filmed in Pittsburgh is,  it is  this one that is kinda a big deal.