The Genuine and the Spurious

American Versailles, (, July 2012)

(Genuine culture) is, ideally speaking, a culture in which nothing is spiritually meaningless, in which no important part of the general functioning brings with it a sense of frustration, of misdirected or unsympathetic effort. (Edward Sapir, American Journal of Sociology, Culture, Genuine and Spurious, 1924)

This will be, perhaps, one of my more personal blog posts. Inspired as it is by the excellent prose of another writer, Tressie McMillian-Cottom (a PhD student in Sociology at Emory University). Continue reading


Home Field Advantage?

It’s game-day Sunday. Thousands of football fans flood roads, parking lots and sidewalks surrounding the stadium.  They pour into this side of town, pockets full of cash, ready to spend a little coin and enjoy their Sunday. Hundreds of stadium employees are hard at work, handling parking, security and service needs. It seems that the stadium is a bustling economic hub, an asset that a community would fight very hard to get. Unfortunately, many stadiums across America burden the communities they are built in. In the city of Atlanta, the negative externalizes (traffic, tailgating, noise) associated with game day are minimal in comparison to the economic and social issues its stadiums create. In Atlanta, plans for a new billion dollar stadium are underway, below I will discuss this project and its effort to revitalize the poverty-stricken communities neighboring it. Continue reading

New York, New York; canal that is

The Treasure Valley is contained within the arid environment of the Snake River Plain a geological fact that has made the damming of rivers, and the creation of canals for water transport and irrigation essential for cities and towns to survive and thrive here.  Without canals the steady growth of both population and economics that the southern portion of Idaho has seen for the last century would not have been possible. And, the farms that gave us the moniker “The Potato State”, along with the various other agricultural products that have contributed to Southwestern Idaho‘s economic viability would not have come into existence. Continue reading

A New City Built For Ghosts?

Imagine a brand new city being built in the United States, complete with almost everything a typical midsize city has today- a downtown, residential neighborhoods, rural areas- all full of homes, apartments, businesses, roads, and working utilities. Now imagine that the city doesn’t have any crime, and nobody will ever even get sick or injured. In fact, there might not even be a need for healthcare, but the hospitals will be there anyway. The city will be full of brand new, innovative, green developments, making it possible that the city will have practically no impact on the environment after construction is complete. Does all of this sound too good to be true? Did I mention that the city also will have no people living there?

Continue reading

Fire Risk: Lessons Learned, or Maybe Not

In 2013, 32.7 million dollars was spent on suppressing wildfires in Idaho. This number raises the eye brows of most taxpayers in Idaho, but homeowners continue to move into areas adjacent to wildlands (now referred to as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)) at high numbers, causing some unwanted issues.

home in wui

Flames are visible near a home in the evacuated Golden Eagle subdivision as the Beaver Creek wildfire rages outside Hailey, Idaho August 16, 2013, courtesy Laura Zuckerman, WSAU News

The Problem:Every fire season, we spend enormous amounts of money to suppress wildfires that cause threats to homes and people, but only a small percentage of that money goes to protecting homes in the Wildland Urban Interface. Local land-use development policies continue to actively encourage people to move into harm’s way. The Boise Foothills are developing quickly because of people’s desire to live in more remote areas. Considering the facts, they are moving into an area that is now more dangerous than ever. Continue reading

The bread and butter of bikability

The City of Boise is reeling following two fatal accidents between bicycles and automobiles. One happened in daylight and the other at night. Both have left the community and city officials pushing for more bike lanes in the city.

Bike Lanes in Montreal. Photo via Flickr, 2013.

Bike Lanes in Montreal. Photo via Flickr, 2013.

While bike lanes are a necessity for bikability, they are not the bread and butter of bikability. What is the bread and butter? Education, and not just for the cyclists themselves. Continue reading

Everyday a little different

Dreamy suburbia,, accessed 10-26-13

The American Dream complete with vanilla houses, big driveways, and manicured front lawns,, accessed 10-26-13

Being a resident of suburbia has given me intimate familiarity with the rote rhythms of commuting, school buses, lawn mowing, dog walking, and picking up the mail that permeate suburban neighborhoods. People live their lives largely inside, occasionally stepping into the backyard but using the front yard as only a demonstration of their compliance with the pre-established patterns of the community. The one opportunity each week for neighbors to see one other in the front is the mandatory mowing of the front lawn. Front yards are largely empty, yet symbolic according to Dr. Crawford. She described garage sales as temporary events that flip the normal social structure and use of space in suburban neighborhoods, challenging and transforming the environment of the front yard. Continue reading