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Reading: The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics, by Ryan D. Enos

December 11, 2017 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics, by Ryan D. Enos

A recent book explores the the interrelationship between several fields, including geography & politics. The underlying research is fascinating.

The Space between Us brings the connection between geography, psychology, and politics to life. By going into the neighborhoods of real cities, Enos shows how our perceptions of racial, ethnic, and religious groups are intuitively shaped by where these groups live and interact daily. Through the lens of numerous examples across the globe and drawing on a compelling combination of research techniques including field and laboratory experiments, big data analysis, and small-scale interactions, this timely book provides a new understanding of how geography shapes politics and how members of groups think about each other. Enos’ analysis is punctuated with personal accounts from the field. His rigorous research unfolds in accessible writing that will appeal to specialists and non-specialists alike, illuminating the profound effects of social geography on how we relate to, think about, and politically interact across groups in the fabric of our daily lives. (Cambridge University Press)

You can read the Preface and Chapter 1 here.

  1. The Red Line
  2. The Demagogue of Space
  3. The Demagogue’s Mechanism: Groups, Space, and the Mind
  4. Laboratories: Assigning Space
  5. Boston: Trains, Immigrants, and the Arizona Question
  6. Chicago: Projects and a Shock to Social Geography
  7. Jerusalem: Walls and the Problem of Cooperation
  8. Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles: Contact and Exit
  9. Phoenix: The Arc of Intergroup Interactions and the Political Future

This is an academic book, though the subject matter is accessible to all. Time is spent explaining the research methodology used in the research, easily skipped unless you’re curious.

Author Ryan D. Enos worked as a teacher on the South side of Chicago, so Chicago’s North-South divide, like St. Louis’ Delmar Divide, makes a great subject for study.  Enos is now an Associate Professor at Harvard University. The banner at the to of his website proclaims:

I am a Social Scientist studying political psychology, race and ethnic politics, and political behavior in the United States and other countries. 

The Space Between Us is available locally from Left Bank Books, Amazon, and other booksellers.

— Steve Patterson

 

Reading: The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy

December 4, 2017 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy

If you think everyone has an equal chance in our society…you’re probably white. Though I’m a white male, I realized years ago the system has long been rigged to favor those who had money & privilege. A recent book looks at the formal & informal rules put into place to maintain an unequal society.

Why do black families own less than white families? Why does school segregation persist decades after Brown v. Board of Education? Why is it harder for black adults to vote than for white adults? Will addressing economic inequality solve racial and gender inequality as well? This book answers all of these questions and more by revealing the hidden rules of race that create barriers to inclusion today. While many Americans are familiar with the histories of slavery and Jim Crow, we often don’t understand how the rules of those eras undergird today’s economy, reproducing the same racial inequities 150 years after the end of slavery and 50 years after the banning of Jim Crow segregation laws. This book shows how the fight for racial equity has been one of progress and retrenchment, a constant push and pull for inclusion over exclusion. By understanding how our economic and racial rules work together, we can write better rules to finally address inequality in America. (Cambridge University Press)

Here’s a look at the chapters in the book:

  1. American Politics and Economic Outcomes for African Americans
  2. Stratification Economics
  3. Creating Structural Changes
  4. The Racial Rules of Wealth
  5. The Racial Rules of Income
  6. The Racial Rules of Education
  7. The Racial Rules of Criminal Justice
  8. The Racial Rules of Health
  9. The Racial Rules of Democratic Participation
  10. What Will It Take to Rewrite the Hidden Rules of Race?

I like that the authors suggest ways to change the rules to level the field, showing us how to get to an inclusive economy. Amazon has a preview of the first pages, it can also be ordered through Left Bank Books.

— Steve Patterson

 

Reading: Design for Good: A New Era of Architecture for Everyone by John Cory

November 27, 2017 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: Design for Good: A New Era of Architecture for Everyone by John Cory

Most of my life I’ve believed design, both good & bad, plays a role in our quality of life. An inspiring book beautifully illustrates this idea that good design can make a positive difference.

“That’s what we do really: we do miracles,” said Anne-Marie Nyiranshimiyimana, who learned masonry in helping to build the Butaro Hospital, a project designed for and with the people of Rwanda using local materials. This, and other projects designed with dignity, show the power of good design. Almost nothing influences the quality of our lives more than the design of our homes, our schools, our workplaces, and our public spaces. Yet, design is often taken for granted and people don’t realize that they deserve better, or that better is even possible.

In Design for Good, John Cary offers character-driven, real-world stories about projects around the globe that offer more—buildings that are designed and created with and for the people who will use them. The book reveals a new understanding of the ways that design shapes our lives and gives professionals and interested citizens the tools to seek out and demand designs that dignify.

For too long, design has been seen as a luxury, the province of the rich, not the poor. That can no longer be acceptable to those of us in the design fields, nor to those affected by design that doesn’t consider human aspects.

From the Mulan Primary School in Guangdong, China to Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the examples in the book show what is possible when design is a collaborative, dignified, empathic process. Building on a powerful foreword by philanthropist Melinda Gates, Cary draws from his own experience as well as dozens of interviews to show not only that everyone deserves good design, but how it can be achieved. This isn’t just another book for and about designers. It’s a book about the lives we lead, inextricably shaped by the spaces and places we inhabit. (Island Press)

The contents shows how the book is organized:

Foreword by Melinda Gates
Introduction: The Dignifying Power of Design

Chapter 1: If It Can Happen Here
Chapter 2: Buildings that Heal
Chapter 3: Shelter for the Soul
Chapter 4: For the Love of Learning
Chapter 5: Places for Public Life
Chapter 6: Raising Expectations
Conclusion: A Call to Expect More

At the moment the digital & paperback versions are on sale for only $7.50, the hardback is only $15 — directly from the publisher, Island Press.

— Steve Patterson

 

Reading: The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval

November 20, 2017 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval

Communities must remain resilient to weather change, a recent book explores this issue:

The sustainability challenges of yesterday have become today’s resilience crises. National and global efforts have failed to stop climate change, transition from fossil fuels, and reduce inequality. We must now confront these and other increasingly complex problems by building resilience at the community level. But what does that mean in practice, and how can it be done in a way that’s effective and equitable?

The Community Resilience Reader offers a new vision for creating resilience, through essays by leaders in such varied fields as science, policy, community building, and urban design. The Community Resilience Reader combines a fresh look at the challenges humanity faces in the 21st century, the essential tools of resilience science, and the wisdom of activists, scholars, and analysts working with community issues on the ground. It shows that resilience is a process, not a goal; how resilience requires learning to adapt but also preparing to transform; and that resilience starts and ends with the people living in a community. Despite the formidable challenges we face, The Community Resilience Reader shows that building strength and resilience at the community level is not only crucial, but possible.

From Post Carbon Institute, the producers of the award-winning The Post Carbon Reader, The Community Resilience Reader is a valuable resource for students, community leaders, and concerned citizens. (Island Press)

A long list of writers have contributed chapters, helping us understand the predicaments, tools, and action to take:

PART I: Understanding Our Predicament

Chapter 1. Six Foundations for Building Community Resilience | Daniel Lerch
Chapter 2. The Environmental Crisis: The Needs of Humanity Versus the Limits of the Planet | Leena I
Chapter 3. The Energy Crisis: From Fossil Fuel Abundance to Renewable Energy Constraints | Richard Heinberg
Chapter 4. The Economic Crisis: The Limits of 20th Century Economics and Growth | Joshua Farley
Chapter 5. The Equity Crisis: The True Costs of Extractive Capitalism | Sarah Byrnes and Chuck Collins
Chapter 6. The Roots of Our Crises: Does Human Nature Drive Us Toward Collapse? | William Rees

PART II: Gathering the Needed Tools

Chapter 7. Systems Literacy: A Toolkit for Purposeful Change | Howard Silverman
Chapter 8. A Crash Course in the Science of Sustainability | Margaret Robertson
Chapter 9. A Crash Course in the Science of Resilience | Brian Walker and David Salt
Chapter 10. Pulling It All Together: Resilience, Wisdom, and Beloved Community | Stephanie Mills

PART III: Community Resilience in Action

Chapter 11. Energy Democracy | Denise Fairchild and Al Weinrub
Chapter 12. Building Community Resilience at the Water’s Edge | Rebecca Wodder
Chapter 13. Food System Lessons from Vermont | Scott Sawyer
Chapter 14. Learning Our Way Toward Resilience | William Throop
Chapter 15. Beyond Waste: Sustainable Consumption for Community Resilience | Rosemary Cooper
Chapter 16. Resilient Streets, Resilient Cities | Mike Lydon
Chapter 17. Community Resilience and the Built Environment | Daniel Lerch
Chapter 18. Conclusion: Where to Start | Asher Miller

Those with their heads buried in the sand with respect to climate change isn’t the target audience, but the rest of us are.

— Steve Patterson

 

Reading: Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty by Scott W. Allard

August 11, 2017 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty by Scott W. Allard

A new book, Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty, by Scott W. Allard, takes a close look at poverty and where it is increasingly located  — the suburbs. AS Allard points out, poverty still exists in the city center.

Americans think of suburbs as prosperous areas that are relatively free from poverty and unemployment. Yet, today more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities themselves. In Places in Need, social policy expert Scott W. Allard tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers. Rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Allard notes that because the suburban social safety net is less developed than the urban safety net, a better understanding of suburban communities is critical for understanding and alleviating poverty in metropolitan areas.

Using census data, administrative data from safety net programs, and interviews with nonprofit leaders in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Allard shows that poor suburban households resemble their urban counterparts in terms of labor force participation, family structure, and educational attainment. In the last few decades, suburbs have seen increases in single-parent households, decreases in the number of college graduates, and higher unemployment rates. As a result, suburban demand for safety net assistance has increased. Concerning is evidence suburban social service providers—which serve clients spread out over large geographical areas, and often lack the political and philanthropic support that urban nonprofit organizations can command—do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand.

To strengthen local safety nets, Allard argues for expanding funding and eligibility to federal programs such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which have proven effective in urban and suburban communities alike. He also proposes to increase the capabilities of community-based service providers through a mix of new funding and capacity-building efforts.

Places in Need demonstrates why researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders should focus more on the shared fate of poor urban and suburban communities. This account of suburban vulnerability amidst persistent urban poverty provides a valuable foundation for developing more effective antipoverty strategies. (Russell Sage Foundation Press)

Suburban poverty, as Allard demonstrates, isn’t limited to low-ibcxomw suburbs either. Middlew class and even affluent suburban areas have poverty.

The chapters in the book are:

  • Chapter 1 Introduction (Note: This chapter can be preview3d in PDF format.)
  • Chapter 2 (Re)Considering Poverty and Place in the United States
  • Chapter 3 e Changing Geography of Poverty in the United States
  • Chapter 4 e Local Safety Net Response
  • Chapter 5 Understanding Metropolitan Social Service Safety Nets
  • Chapter 6 Rethinking Poverty, Rethinking Policy

Interesting data is available in the online technical index. Once just an inner-city problem, poverty is now wide-spread.

— Steve Patterson

 

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