Monday, 27 June 2022

Matt Black's American Geography

A cross-posting from my Geography in/on Film blog.

Matt Black's 'American Geography' is a film to accompany a project where he explores the poorer parts of the USA.
It is a Magnum Photos project.

Between 2015 and 2020, Matt Black traveled over 100,000 miles across 46 states. American Geography documents the experiences of those living in some of the poorest communities in the nation. Starting in his hometown in California’s Central Valley, where billions of dollars are generated every year in agricultural output but one-third of the population lives in poverty, he traveled to other areas of “concentrated poverty” – as US census definition of places with a poverty rate of 20 percent or more. What Black found is that rather than being distant anomalies, these communities were rarely more than a two-hour drive apart enabling him to cross the country without ever crossing above the poverty line.

There is also a website which has further details on the project including diaries, photographs, images of Matt's Greyhound bus tickets and other ephemera. It's really nicely put together and I'm sure could form the basis for an exploration of the southern states of the USA.

The film can be viewed on the link above.

He also visits Flint, Michigan

Saturday, 4 June 2022

GeogPod: National Fieldwork Week

One of the best ways to appreciate the landscape is to head out on fieldwork. 

The latest GeogPod has been released and it features Paula Richardson and I talking about the GA's National Research Report and how that fed into the development of the National Fieldwork Week.

 This starts on Monday the 6th of June.

Thanks to John Lyon for hosting - see if you can spot the question I wasn't expecting... :) 

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

AQA Pre-release 2022

I was told yesterday that the AQA GCSE pre-release material for the 2022 summer exam season was based in / or mentioned Ely, so I asked for a copy and discovered that it was based on an application by Amey to add an incinerator to their existing waste management park near Waterbeach / Denny Abbey to the south of Ely, along the A10.

The scheme was controversial, although the benefits were clearly stated by the company. A protest group was set up, and commissioned a report on the impact of the proposal, which included mention of the chimney which would be taller than Ely Cathedral and spoil the view towards it from Madingley (a place of geographical significance).

Interestingly, for a pre-release where students usually have to weigh up whether a planned development should go ahead, the decision has already been made in that the scheme was .... spoiler alert.... turned down in 2020.

I tried to add some local contexts - newspaper articles, campaign group reports, local landscape character analysis reports etc. into the mix and shared to the community - AQA is the most popular GCSE specification choice so there will be lots of teachers looking to prepare something on this, and we are all working at our limits at the moment with hybrid learning for many still due to students recovering at home from COVID.

Anthony Bennett has added a copy of the document to his page of pre-release materials. This is available to subscribers and non-subscribers of Internet Geography.

An editable version is below or on this link...

Feel free to download a copy and add your own ideas to the document - there have already been some deletions from the document which is a little disappointing, but I have been able to recover to previous versions.

Images: Alan Parkinson and shared under CC license

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Perec and Psychogeography in Huddersfield

This programme was last broadcast in 2021, but is being broadcast on Radio 3 again today.

You will be able to hear it from tomorrow evening, or perhaps Monday morning.

It is presented by Kevin Boniface, a postman based in Huddersfield who has written books on his psychogeographical adventures for uniformbooks.

It connects perfectly with my conference theme of Everyday Geographies, and also the work of Georges Perec and his books which look at the infra-ordinary.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Rura - In Praise of Home

This 2018 album from the Scottish folk band RURA is excellent

The theme for the whole album is home and what it means to people, but it also invokes the Scottish landscape - the wider sense of home for all Scots. The title track and a later track includes some nice sampled reflections on home - the only lyrics on the album. The words are explored here in a nice reflection on their meaning.

It's an addictive listen.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

LitHub: Place is its own story

 I enjoyed this piece by Morgan Thomas. They have explored some changing ways of representing place during their development as a writer.

Place in the 21st century is increasingly dynamic. Last year’s “unprecedented” Oregon fire season has been outpaced this year. New York City has seen fifty percent more rainfall during severe storms. Hurricane Ida strengthened from a tropical storm to a category four hurricane faster than hurricanes usually do. Now especially the ability of fiction to accurately render place depends on our understanding of it as a responsive ecosystem. A reflexive insistence that any place in a story that thinks and responds is a character perpetuates narratives of our environment as inanimate, unthinking, unchanging. These narratives have undergirded centuries of environmental degradation and have led to our current climate crisis.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

GeogLive! 6 - Cold Landscapes

The U.K has a seasonal, temperate climate, while globally we have extremes. 

How can we teach pupils about cold landscapes from EY-KS2? About this event Join us for this two part session on cold landscapes. 

Part 1: Emma Kerr, Headteacher, Teaching about Antarctica and the Shackleton Project

Part 2: Sharon Witt, Consultant, Exploring local winter landscapes 

Chaired by Julia Tanner @EYPPC_GA committee, @The_GA 

This free webinar will support conversations about distant places from the U.K, the teaching of geography at cold latitudes and consideration of the people, locations and environments we might find there. This webinar will conclude with a Q+A and some information about the extensive support the Geographical Association offers: high-quality classroom resources, inspirational teaching ideas, Subject Leader guidance, excellent continuing professional development events, and stimulating networking opportunities, reflecting OFSTED’s recent recommendation that teachers draw on "subject-specific support and professional networks ‘ (Ofsted, 2021).

Watch a recording here.
I particularly loved Sharon Witt's session of course - as always.


Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Clarkson's Farm - planning issue DME

One of the successes of lockdown for Amazon Prime was the show Clarkson's Farm.

It showed the difficulties of making a living in farming. Clarkson took over the running of a farm he owned, but had previously had a tenant farmer running it before his retirement. He had owned the 1000 acres in Oxfordshire since 2008 but never had to farm them before. "How difficult could it be".

 The filming coincided with lock down, so the show also featured the issues with that for farmers, and the challenge of setting up a new farm shop and dealing with legislation. The show was quite educational, pointing out the logistics and geography of how a field is ploughed so as to leave room for spraying once the crop starts growing...

As with Top Gear, a lot of it is apparently pre-scripted and there were set ups for comic effect - the huge Lamborghini tractor that he buys which doesn't work with other equipment as well as it should, and the local handyman who he can't understand because of his accent. There were the sheep he bought and tried to control with a drone that barked. His young farming assistant Kaleb is the straightman, along with his farm manager.

Howeve, even the National Farmers' Union were appreciative of it raising the profile of farming and the difficulty of making a profit for some against changing legislation, administration and financial support. They named him a Farming Champion in 2021.

They even won an award at the British Farming Awards.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “When it comes to recognising someone who has done their best to showcase British food and farming over the past 12 months, no-one has earned this award more than Jeremy Clarkson. His show has really resonated with the public, brought alive the ups and downs of our industry to a huge new audience, and transported British farming into the living rooms of families across the country.”
Acknowledging the extraordinarily tough time that farmers have been having recently, Minette went on, “It’s been such a challenging time for British farming over the past 12 months; as key workers our farmers have kept shelves stocked with British food and dealt with extreme weather events.
“Now, they are battling labour shortages, supply chain disruption and rising costs, which are causing severe problems for essential food producing businesses.
“Through all of this, Jeremy Clarkson has been a vocal champion for the British farming industry. His enthusiasm comes through in spades and his overwhelming and continued support for the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign makes him a very deserving winner of this prestigious award.”

And a book has now been published which is selling well.

Clarkson says that it's an unusual show for him to have been part of.

Clarkson put in a planning application for an expansion of his existing farm shop at the end of last year. The plan was to open a restaurant. This was opened as part of the programme and led to predictable traffic chaos. There were also issues with some of the products for sale as the shop was only supposed to sell local products as a condition of its license. In January 2022 the application was turned down. This has been featured in a lot of newspapers and other media.

Some people were supportive, particularly other local farmers who pointed out the terrible toll of COVID on British farming, and the need to bring jobs into an area where there were fewer opportunities for employment to some degree.

The application can be seen on the West Oxon Council website at the time of writing (see link earlier in the post) and over the weekend, I have downloaded some key documents from bodies such as the Police and Highways Agency, and supportive and objecting comments from neighrbours and people in the local village. 

I will do something with it once my current 'fixture congestion' dies down and share any resource that I create as a result - I think it would be quite a nice context for students to explore, and also tie in with local issues and decisions of this nature.

 I've previously done this with plans for a cable car in Cheddar Gorge, and a Zip wire in the Lakes, neither of which have gone ahead yet, and both of which had some good responses from students - some in favour and some against...

Friday, 7 January 2022

The Forgiving Path

 Watch it here:

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

A final collection from the master

A collection of essays by the master: Barry Lopez is coming on May 2022. This will be an essential read.

Description from the publishers.

An urgent, deeply moving final work of nonfiction from the National Book Award-winning author of Arctic Dreams and Horizon, a literary icon whose writing, fieldwork, and mentorship inspired generations of writers and activists.

An ardent steward of the land, fearless traveler, and unrivaled observer of nature and culture, Barry Lopez died after a long illness on Christmas Day 2020, following a summer wildfire that consumed much of what was dear to him in his home place and the community around it--a tragic reminder of the climate change of which he'd long warned.

At once a cri de coeur and a memoir of both pain and wonder, this remarkable collection of essays adds indelibly to Lopez's legacy, and includes previously unpublished works, some written in the months before his death. They unspool memories both personal and political, among them tender, sometimes painful stories of his childhood in New York City and California, reports from expeditions to study animals and sea life, recollections of travels to Antarctica and other extraordinary places on earth, and meditations on finding oneself amid vast, dramatic landscapes. He reflects on those who taught him, including Indigenous elders and scientific mentors who sharpened his eye for the natural world. 

And we witness poignant returns to the sanctuary of his Oregon backyard, adjacent to the wild McKenzie River. In prose of searing candor, he reckons with the cycle of life, including his own, and--as he has done throughout his career--with the dangers the earth and its people are facing.

With an introduction by Rebecca Solnit that speaks to Lopez's keen attention to the world, including its spiritual dimensions, Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World opens our minds and souls to the importance of being wholly present for the beauty and complexity of life.

Radical Landscapes at Tate Liverpool during 2022

I look forward to catching up with this exhibition at Tate Liverpool, which runs from May to September 2022.

From the Tate Liverpool website:

Radical Landscapes, a major exhibition exploring our connections to the rural landscapes of Britain. Featuring works such as Ruth Ewan’s Back to the Fields 2015, an installation of live plants, and Jeremy Deller’s green neon Cerne Abbas sculpture, this show expands on the traditional, picturesque portrayals of the landscape, presenting art that reflects the diversity of Britain’s landscape and communities.

Discover playful and political artworks which reveal untold histories from the last century and investigate themes such as trespass, land use and the climate emergency. Encounter over 150 works including key pieces such as Tacita Dean’s Majesty 2006, Oceans Apart 1989 by Ingrid Pollard and Anwar Jalal Shemza’s Apple Tree 1962.

Radical Landscapes presents rural spaces as sites of artistic inspiration and action, and a heartland for ideas of freedom, mysticism and rebellion. It explores how artists have reclaimed the landscape as a space to make art for everyone, as well as unearth how the countryside has been shaped by our values and use of the land. The show will also consider the human impact on the landscape and ecosystems, by featuring works that reflect on the climate and its impact on the landscape including Gustav Metzger’s dazzling Liquid Crystal Environment 1965/2005 and Yuri Pattison’s sun[set] provisioning 2019.