Geography America and the Aging Population

senior-citizensA recent workshop took place entitled, “How Changing Demographics Will Impact America’s Urban Revival.” Participants were: Elizabeth Kneebone and Margery Austin Turner, hailing from the Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution and Urban Institute Program Planning and Management.

The gist of what came out of the discussion was geared toward policymakers and their impact on geography America and changing demographics. When addressing urban and suburban issues, it is “crucial” to consider their geographical context.

In other words, what may be a successful urban policy in Texas might not necessarily be appropriate for the very different demographic of Cincinnati. Policies are impacted by the demographics – whether the communities are aging or more youthful.

Despite these findings, Jim Russell, a geographer specializing on the relationship between migration and economic development, two years ago his research revealed something different. He said:

“Not only did I find brain gain where others decried brain drain, I saw a lot of the Rust Belt in the most distressed San Antonio neighborhoods. Cities all over the United States have struggled with the decline of manufacturing. San Antonio is no exception. Concerning the economic geography of reinventing America’s older communities, place doesn’t matter. Where you have neighborhoods that were (perhaps still are) linked to manufacturing employment, you will find common problems and common solutions.”

Nevertheless what also needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that the number of those born in America between 1946 and 1964 (65+ ers) is “projected to hit 83.7m by 2050.” This is almost twice as much as the estimated 43.1 m older residents who got to that age three years ago according to ‘An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States’ and ‘The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060.’

Thus it is crucial to look at geography America, demographics, and figure out where the largest aging population is. Senior citizens require different medical and other care and services.

Marking 150 Years of Heroes’ Death

Nathaniel_HawthorneAmerica has witnessed a few anniversaries of deaths of soldiers recently. Different communities in various states find ways to memorialize these days. Between ceremonies and monumental dedications, readings and more, here are a few highlights of such events.

Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne died on a trip he took with best friend US President Franklin Pierce around New England. In a letter in the archives of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation that was written 10 years ago, Pierce described the circumstances of his death:

We came here yesterday afternoon. At about 9 o’clock Hawthorne retired, & soon fell into a quiet slumber. He changed his position in about half an hour, but continued to sleep. I retired before 11 thinking that he would have a quiet night, I awoke between 1 & 2 o[‘]clock and went to his bed side. (There was a light in my room & a door between it and that of H, which was left open[,] our beds were near each other) He had again changed his position but was lying naturally upon his side with his face toward me and I supposed was in quiet repose. I returned to my bed, but waking between 3 & 4 o’clock I was surprised to observe that his position was unchanged[,] and placing my hand upon his temple found that life was extinct. I sent immediately for a Physician & called […] B[…], Thom. Hillard who are here at a […] of the Court and occupying rooms near our’s. When […] the disposition of the limbs so perfectly natural, the repose of that noble face with the eyes closed, it was evident that he had passed away without the slightest movement and without suffering – One could hardly realize that he had passed from natural sleep to that sleep which knows no waking.”

Pierce was devastated, and, following his death, proceeded to re-read all of his friend’s books.

Another well-memorialized death is that of Albert Anderson. He also passed 150 years ago. Unlike Hawthorne who passed away from illness, he was killed during the Civil War in October 1864. Today he is buried at the Van Wert historic Cemetery near Rockmart. There will be a memorial held for him at the Euharlee Valley Historical Society (EVHS), attended by local and state officials, and the Atlanta Historical Museum’s curator, Gordon Jones.

Another ceremony that is due to take place is in memory of the 150th anniversary of the death of Colonel Simon Hosack Mix. While he was leading his 3rd NY Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, he was mortally wounded in Petersburg, Virginia, 1864. His body was never recovered but his family erected a monument at the Stone Fort cemetery. Today, col. Mix’s uniform and various personal effects are exhibited at the museum.

These are just a few of the ways in which heroes of war are being memorialized in 2014.

Mesa Verde National Park Discovery

mesa-verdeA recent discovery was made in Colorado at the Mesa Verde National Park.  It seems that what has been considered for a long time to have been an Ancestral Puebloan water reservoir – that has been standing for a thousand years – may not have actually been erected to store water.
Instead, it seems that the latest study concludes that given that it is on a ridge, US Geological Survey scientist Larry Benson pointed out that “it’s hard to believe that Native Americans who understood the landscape and were in need of water would have decided to build a reservoir on that ridge.” Thus those in the study believe that Mummy Lake – what was thought to have been a water reservoir – was actually instead “an unroofed ceremonial structure” a bit like ancient kivas and plazas common in the Southwest.  It also looks a bit like a Arizonian amphitheater that was also originally considered a water reservoir.
Around 20 years ago an evolving ritual landscape was discovered by researchers studying the Manuelito Canyon Community of New Mexico.  Throughout history, the Manuelitos changed the ritual focus of their community, developing ceremonial roads to connect their retired great houses and great kivas to the new complexes.  Benson’s group believes the same thing occurred at Mesa Verde, concluding that it is time for “new signage” on the structure…We could probably call it ‘Mummy Lake’ again.”

US Anthropology and the Lego Revolution

legoTop executives at Lego have been using German and US anthropology in their road to continued success.  This was done by placing anthropologist researchers into families, seeing how they interact, and, with a special focus on their play.

In an attempt to get Lego back on track, executives sought to demystify the notion that customers “no longer had to time to play” through research in the field of US anthropology.  They wanted to figure out if 21st century “plug and play” games were rendering old-school Lego play unpopular.

Interestingly what happened in this US anthropology research was that it was found that children these days do still have a lot of free time and in this time, they enjoy tackling challenging problems.  Further, when they weren’t being supervised, their behavior and actions were different to when they were being supervised.

Interestingly what has been found – by researchers Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen, (ReD Associates’ founding partners) – is that the way to really understand what’s going on is by anthropology.  That, as opposed to questionnaires and spreadsheets.  Culturally going in and experiencing what is happening is going to give us a much more accurate analysis of what children like to do.  At least, that is what Lego has found.  And they are pretty successful.

Spring is Here and its Time to Say “We Love Jazz!”

Jazz Appreciation Month at the US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan
Jazz Appreciation Month at the US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan

April is “Jazz Appreciation Month,” also known as JAM! In honor of this wonderful month which is a delight to the ears, let’s talk about a few of the young, up and coming jazz musicians of our day.

I don’t know what you think of when you hear the word ‘Azerbaijan,” but I think of one of my favorite musicians from that oil-rich country, Beyler Eyyubov. Before arriving on the shores of America, where he now lives in Brooklyn, Beyler Eyyubov played with some of the best jazz artists in his home country. Backing up singers like, Sevda Alekperzadeh, or jamming with the likes of Azerbaijan Honorary Artist Rain Sultanov, Eyyubov was beginning to make a name for himself before he moved to the US in 1997. I hope we will be hearing more from him soon.

Heading to a completely different part of the world, I would like to take some time to explore the world of jazz in Japan. The list here is long, but among my favorites are Satoko Fujii, an avant-garde jazz pianist and composer; guitarist Yoshiaki Miyanoue, who plucks the strings with his thumbs in the style of Wes Montgomery, who influenced Miyanoue in many ways; and Gota Yashiki, who is an acid jazz musician playing drum and bass for the band Simply Red.

Our trip through the literal world of jazz would definitely be incomplete without a stop in Africa. One of my favorites, who had a sad ending to his life, is Moses Khumalo. His instrument was the saxophone, and boy could he blow. The first time he performed in public was at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 1995, and he made a name for himself as a member of the band led by Moses Taiwa Molelekwa whose end by a weird coincidence, also ended tragically.

So celebrate JAM this month- listen to some of the world’s greatest sounds, and enjoy.

New Americans US Society Integration

cisnerosA non-profit organization to help support immigrant groups throughout America was recently launched by Henry Cisneros.  The former Mayor and Housing Secretary and current CityView Executive Chairman, set up the Cisneros Center to “identify best practices among these groups and promote an immigrant “road map” to accelerate their integration into U.S. society.”  The idea was also that it should be used as a kickback to the escalation in US immigrant populations.  Retired US diplomat Cecilia Elizondo Herrera will be the center’s CEO and first president in San Antonio with Nicolas Perilla as executive director in Washington DC.  José Estrada will be the center’s regional manager in Arkansas.

The Cisneros Center will seek to create awareness of the true “urgency” encountered by immigrants on education and other such issues common in their new lives.  It will be Cisneros’ “single, focused effort” in civic life. He believes that strong immigrant communities are what will “save our country.”

The main role of the Center will be to assemble nonprofit groups, academics, faith-based organizations and those with a foot in the door of immigrant communities to brainstorm the best ideas to deal with isolation.  As Perilla pointed out, there are “new gateways that have experienced dramatic demographic shifts in the last 20 years and are still in the process of building the infrastructure to serve them,” which have “so much potential,” but are lacking the necessary tools.

US Anthropologist Becomes Voice of the Dead

trophy-skullsTwo organizations – the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the US Army Central Identification Laboratory were the driving force behind a team of scientific anthropologists who are in the process of investigating American military remains that were unearthed in places around the world.

As part of this project, head of the team, forensic anthropologist Marcella Sorg, has been trying to figure out the root of various “trophy skulls” that have appeared in Maine following the deaths of veterans from the second World War.  Also in this category are bones of enemy fighters that were taken as military service souvenirs and discovered by family members.

In her position, Sorg is often asked to investigate unknown human skeletal remains.  In this way, she can figure out the identity of the individual and if their death was caused by a murder. In her US anthropology work over the years, Sorg has found a “steady increase” in the amount of drug-related deaths over the last decade and a half.  Indeed, between 2011 to 2012 there was a quadrupling of heroin-related deaths.  Methadone deaths have been decreasing, since 2008 though.

Still, at the end of the day, even though US anthropologist Sorg spends a lot of time analyzing bones, she always tries to remember that at some point, they belonged to somebody’s mother, father, etc.

Banking Looking Up in Florida

According to Go Banking Rates, there were no banks in 2013 in Miami or South Florida that went under. The real estate sector boosted the banks in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties during 2013. As Richard Brown, the chief economist of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said in an interview, “Things are getting better. The real estate market turned on a dime.”

The South Florida banks aren’t yet at the pre-recession levels, but they are definitely healthier than they were when Florida led the country in bank closings during 2010, according to Brown and FDIC spokesman David Barr.

Many banks including First Southern Bank, Doral Bank and others see a bright financial future. As Karen Dorway, president of Bauer Financial, told the Sun Sentinel, the number of bad loans that are held by South Florida banks continues to drop.

California Prepares to Boost Earthquake Fault Line Map Efforts

marktwainearthquakeCalifornia experiences earthquakes on a regular basis, and small to medium shocks are almost common procedure. However, as history has shown, the fault lines that cut across the state can have much more dangerous effects.

The 1906 earthquake that hit San Francisco was especially devastating, taking hundreds of lives, leveling dozens of buildings and starting fires that lasted for days. Cities across the continent felt the tremors from the quake, including those on the East Coast. The California Artists Relief Society was formed to aid the victims of this crisis, and Robert Reid painted the famous “Spirit of Humanity” in support of their efforts.

Samuel Clemens, more commonly known as Mark Twain, was especially moved by Reid’s painting, according to a letter recently revealed by the Shapell Manuscript Foundation. He wrote: “I keep thinking about that picture – I cannot get it out of my mind. I think – no, I know – that it is the most moving, the most eloquent, the most profoundly pathetic picture I have ever seen. It wrings the heart to look at it, it is so desolate, so grieved. It realizes San Francisco to us as words have not done & cannot do. I wonder how many women can look upon it & keep back their tears – or how many unhardened men, for that matter?”

Today, efforts to map out the earthquake fault lines in the region are struggling. However, Governor Jerry Brown has promised to increase funding to such projects. “We’ll do whatever it takes,” he said. “We’re gonna map these things. It is a problem. It’s serious.”