Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Urban Sprawl

Urban Sprawl

Urban Sprawl (2003)

From NOW with Bill Moyers: "The Last Frontier -- The Future of the Florida Panhandle":

In the heart of Florida’s Panhandle, a million untouched acres of forests, wetlands, swamps, coastline and beachfront could become casualties of development. The St. Joe Company, a former paper company and Florida’s largest private landowner, is undertaking an unprecedented development project that will forever change an area that experts say is one of the most environmentally sensitive in the nation. Although the St. Joe Company has promoted its plans as environmentally friendly and capable of attracting affluent settlers with money to invest in the local economy, not all residents are convinced this will be a good thing for the region.


HUGHES: But the Panhandle's relatively untouched environment is already changing. Last year a Forest Service report said many of the rare species of plants and animals here are threatened by development. Still, St. Joe claims it can protect the environment and transform the landscape.

BUZZETT: So if there's anybody who can do it right, we can do it right. If there's anybody who doesn't have to squeeze every square inch out of a piece of land, we can do that, too.

HUGHES: Buzzett says that the company has even hired a former Nature Conservancy director to help preserve sensitive lands. But, it's also made millions in the process, selling more than 120,000 acres of that land to both the state and conservation groups over the past three years.

HIAASEN: They're not losing money there. They're making money off of that. Off their own generosity. Even that's a profit-making action.

Every cheese ball developer in Florida does that when he comes in. It's the same deal. They have to. "Oh, you want a park? We'll build you a little park over here. And maybe we'll even throw in some money for some swings, you know. And a sandbox." And then they get a little plaque. And everybody's happy and then they get noticed in the paper. Gee, St. Joe donated this for a park. Whoop-dee-do. While they're paving the rest of your town, you can go sit in the park and watch.

From NASA's "Urban Sprawl -- The Big Picture":

Country road / Take me home...

"There goes the neighborhood..."

While space technology was undergoing its spectacular birth during the 1950s and '60s, and visionaries were predicting the spread of human colonies into space, another kind of human colony was spreading rapidly -- right here on Earth!

It was the dawn of the modern suburb, a time of post-war prosperity when housing developments popped up across the landscape like mushrooms after a rain.

A half-century later, we now understand that many environmental problems accompany the outward spread of cities: fragmenting and destroying wildlife habitat, for example, and discharging polluted runoff water into streams and lakes.

The emerging space technology of the 1950s has grown along with our cities. As you read this today, dozens of high-tech satellites are circling our planet, gathering terabytes of scientific data about the environment. These data provide a unique "big picture" view of the effects of urban sprawl.


Because humans are so visually oriented, such graphics can communicate lots of complex information in a quick, intuitive way. Simply watching a 30-year animation that shows your city rapidly engulfing the landscape can be an eye-opening experience.

"We all sat there a little stunned," says Christine Nelson, recalling the first time she and her fellow city officials were shown animations of historical city growth.

From David Rusk's homepage:

Urban sprawl is like pornography -- hard to define but you know it when you see it.

And from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi":

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Today's image uses collaged fractal forms to create a dark grid relentlessly spreading over earth tones and greenery.

But wait! There's more! That plain Jane nature trail for a morning walk got you down? What would you say to a NEW IMPROVED Ronco strip mall makeover...?

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