A 2022 Cartography Review
Summer is around the bend, this brings cartography to an end
I’ve been out of town this week so I wrote a short summary of this year’s cartography season. I realized my posts formed a sort of narrative over the last few months, so I’ve written a short piece that strings together each post into a narrative. I’ve provided jump-off links should you have missed an episode (it happens), are new to Interplace (welcome to a lot of new Interactors!), or just want a refresher (I know I did).
I’ll be back next week after summer solstice with fresh content. That will kick off the summer season on the environment and our interactions with it and through it.
As interactors, you’re special individuals self-selected to be a part of an evolutionary journey. You’re also members of an attentive community so I welcome your participation.
Please leave your comments below or email me directly.
Now let’s go…
The war continues to draw attention to Russia and maps play a staring role. Russia has cartographic ties to the United States - including a shared and contested border.
Speaking of borders. Did you know the Ukrainian border Russia invaded was drawn by Americans?
With the drawing of European boundaries after WWI the United States realized what rhetorical tools maps could be. They then became forms of Cold War propaganda.
The United States, and other Western powers, found maps to also be convenient legal binding documents in international law as colonization continued. But legal weapons can be deployed both ways.
However, borders are just frozen lines on a map. Humans haven’t stopped moving since a branch of our species left Africa. Perhaps it’s time maps reflect our fluidity.
It could be that we’re stuck in a Cartesian trap. Perhaps we need maps inspired by naturally occurring growth and spawning patterns found in fractals.
Attempts were made in the 1950s and 60s in America to have roads blend into fractal-like nature instead of aligning to strict grids. But these plans assumed car ownership leading to new patterns of human isolation and exclusion.
Humans have long exhibited certain mathematical patterns of behavior in their growth, spawning, and sprawling of civilizations. We may be better served to plan our future with knowledge of these scaling patterns.
Until then, we need to re-plan our cities and streets to be safe public spaces for all and not just the privileged and powerful few.
Power doesn’t just exist in urban regions. There are powerful farmers too. For example, in Iowa, large farms are consolidating wealth and power. Farmers are selling to other wealthy farmers and developers who are then selling to suburbanites – which only contributes to further urban sprawl.
What is it about American’s desire to live in suburbia? Is it rooted in fear? Freedom of choice? The car indeed provides safety and freedom. But, ironically, automobile dependence has turned autocratic. And lonely.
While freedom is being fought with blood and sacrifice in Ukraine, freedom to work high paying jobs anywhere is being fought with employers in America. Many around the world are in the midst of a great transformation. But the fight for freedom is a fight for existence.
See you next week!