Archive for the Population Geography Category

Baby Boomers, Gentrification and Re-urbanization in Melbourne, AU

Posted in Population Geography, Urban Geography on November 25, 2008 by geography101

Shepard Simpson from our class provides a lucid account of an aspect of gentrification and re-urbanization that we didn’t touch on in lecture. Its not just young professionals who are moving back to the city to take advantage of its new creative enterprises, but also the ‘baby boomers’. As Shepard notes below, many of these ’empty nesters’ like those of her parents generation, are also returning to the city, contributing to its rapid transformation:

skyline1The first picture is from the balcony of my parents’ apartment, taken about a year ago when I was home for winter break. My parents live in Melbourne, Australia and had just recently moved from a suburb of Melbourne to a place which is a ten minute walk to downtown (the beauty of being empty nesters). The following picture depicts an office complex that has been built during the past year right next door. These pictures made me think about the process of urbanization we have been discussing in class, and the idea of an “aging population” resulting from the approaching retirement of the baby boomer generation which we discussed in discussion sections during our second round of debates.construction1

The area which my parents moved to used to be the industrial sector made up of strings of warehouses that lined the Yarra River. Over the past few decades, these warehouses have been either torn down and/or renovated into new modern apartment complexes and huge infrastructure projects. More and more people are relocating to the area because of its proximity to downtown and its location on the river. In my opinion this is a prime example of Gentrification and “Re-urbanization”. The picture also made me start thinking about how the restructuring of cities and the outmoded concept of “Levittown” is in large part connected to the “soon to come” retiring group of baby boomers. I think it is going to be interesting to observe over the next couple decades how urban geographies continue to evolve and in turn what affects this will have on suburban life. 


Population growth and the changing story of Milwaukee, a ‘city of immigrants’

Posted in Population Geography, Urban Geography on November 5, 2008 by geography101

Dave Steel, an urban planner in Milwaukee notes that of all the statistics used to gauge the health and well being of a city, “we put the most stock in population growth or decline”. In a recent article posted in the Next America City he writes:

A city’s population growth or decline, as reflected in Census estimates and decennial counts, influences a lot of consequential decisions, from the allotment of governmental resources, to the location decisions of corporations. And, perhaps more importantly, population counts help form a city’s narrative, the story it tells about itself. Growing cities are said to be prosperous and thriving; shrinking cities are said to be in decline.


Ethnic Hmong children play on Milwaukee's South Side

Based on recent estimates from US Census data, the population of Milwaukee appears to be growing after years of steady decline. While the details about who exactly is fuelling this growth won’t be known until the 2010 Census, Steel’s seasoned eye suggests it may be a result of recent immigrants from South Asia, as well as a booming Latino population. The story of the city’s changing ethnic composition can be read on a stroll through its South Side. These new arrivals, Steel notes, continue to reshape Milwaukee’s historic tradition as a ‘city of immigrants’:


St Josaphat Basilica on the South Side. It was built by Polish immigrants at the end of the 19th century

Like the Germans, Poles, Irish and Italians before them, today’s Latinos and Hmong are staking their claim in a city that has always taken both the unskilled and uneducated into its ranks. What’s less certain, however, is whether the new Milwaukee can offer its new residents what the old Milwaukee did: the good jobs and good schools necessary for immigrants to work their way into the middle class. With more residents comes a greater responsibility to provide those services that are essential for a productive life.

Read the full story from the Next American City here

Here is a link to another article from the Journal Sentinel, documenting patterns of ethnic change in the city.

Conflicts between urban and federal governments emerge on how to address undocumented migrants in US

Posted in Population Geography, Urban Geography on November 4, 2008 by geography101

Gathering of residents of New Haven after the immigration raid by the feds

We’ve been talking in class about some of the steps local municipalities and counties are taking to address issues relating to undocumented migrants. Eric Grazia, from our class sent this story which deals directly with this issue. He writes:

“I’m from a small town outside of New Haven, Connecticut. In 2007 New Haven introduced ID cards which allow illegal immigrants to open bank accounts and get access to other services. New Haven was the first city in the nation to do this. There was a raid by the federal government two days after the policy went into affect, clearly in retaliation to the policy.”

An article in the New York times in 2007 discusses the policies adopted by the city. In addition to these immigration cards issued by the municipality, local police adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, meaning that they would not question an individual’s citizenship status for any reason. According to the New York Times, after the raid by the federal government, the Mayor

“and other city leaders angrily accused the federal government of “terrorizing” the immigrant community. Many of them speculated that the mass arrests — the first of their kind in recent memory here — were retaliation for the acceptance of municipal identification cards and other immigrant-friendly city policies.”

Read the full story here.

Heavy Metal in Baghdad: war, migration, culture

Posted in Cultural Geography, Geography and Globalization, Population Geography, Urban Geography on October 30, 2008 by geography101
Feature length film released in 2007

Feature length film released in 2007

Nate Millington alerted us to this film released last year which centres on one of the few (only?) heavy metal bands inBaghdad. Through the story of the band, the film Nate writes, “deals with a lot of issues related to cultural communities and migration, in particular. It ties in really directly to [migration and refugees] and gives a really strange, but ultimately compelling, look at Iraqi migration and the war.” See trailers and read reviews of the film, which premiered at the Toronto and Berlin International Film Fests last year, here.

Immigrants in the Core: Overlooked Economic Contributions

Posted in Geography and Globalization, Population Geography on October 28, 2008 by geography101

Here’s an article I wrote about African immigrants in France; its based on personal experience and highlights many of the economic and moral issues surrounding immigration that we’re discussing in 101 right now..

-Leif Brottem

Foreign Policy in Focus:

Immigration\’s Role Often Overlooked in Global Economy

Immigrant protest in Paris

Immigrant rights march in Paris

More on the US Census and the politics of prisons in Wisconsin

Posted in Population Geography on October 26, 2008 by geography101

Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Institute responded to the posting “Effects of the US Census…” on our blog, noting that the “impact of the prison miscount of federal and state funding in Dodge County [discussed in previous post] is actually quite small”.

He suggests we have a look at the following articles to get a better sense of the political stakes in Wisconsin with regard to prisons, census data and the population geographies of electoral politics:

Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Wisconsin
A report from the PPI that “finds rural county and city government districts [in Wisconsin] that are as much as 79% prisoners. “This allows the real residents of a district with a prison to unfairly dominate their local government.”

Fuzzy Math: Is the Census Bureau creating unfair politics in Wisconsin?
Milwaukee Magazine article noting the effects on electoral politics in Wisconsin, a state where “the number of state prisoners grew from 4,000 in 1980 to over 20,000 in 2000. The growing number of miscounted citizens, the Prison Policy Institute says, causes “serious damage … to state and local democracy.”

New prisons mean new challenge for democracy in rural county 
An article about Chippewa County’s coming crisis from the prison miscount. Wagner writes: “One of the new prisons in Chippewa County is large enough to create a bigger vote dilution problem than in any other county we’ve studied in Wisconsin. If the districts were redrawn today, the district that included the Stanley Correctional Institution would be 72% prisoners. Every group of 28 residents near the prison would be given as much as say over the future of the county as 100 residents in every other district. Giving a small group of people 3 times as much political power as other residents because they happen to have a prison nearby isn’t just unfair; it violates state and federal law.”

Effects of the US Census: Prison-based electoral politics grows as number of inmates around the nation balloons

Posted in Population Geography, Urban Geography on October 25, 2008 by geography101
Ward two in Anamosa has all the benifits of a city council seat, but only 58 constituents. The rest are in prison.

Ward two in Anamosa has all the benefits of a city council seat, but only 58 constituents. The rest are in prison.

The US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. About 1 in every 37 adults in the US is in prison. Rates are even higher if you are a person of colour, particularly a male. The prison population is counted in the US census. Counting prisoners in the US census but not on the ballot box can have severe effects. While this may not have posed as big of a problem in years past, when incarceration rates were much, much lower, its having huge ramifications today, in everything from how state funding is allocated, to how electoral boundaries are drawn.  The New York Times ran a story this week about an election in Anamosa, Iowa where Danny Young was elected as a representative to city council on a total of 2 votes. The reporter explains: “That is because his ward includes 1,300 inmates housed in Iowa’s largest penitentiary — none of whom can vote. Only 58 of the people who live in Ward 2 are nonprisoners”. Similar occurances are happening in Wisconsin, Tennessee, and New York. Read the full story

Electoral politics are not the only thing affected from the booming prison population. In addition to a high incarceration rate, the US incarcerates a disproportionate number of people of color. In Wisconsin, incarceration rates for blacks are nearly twelve times higher than for whites. The Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) reports that this has affected the distribution of funds, often from urban communities of colour to rural an prison communities. Read an except from their 2004 report below:

Pecentage of Black Population Incarcerated in Wisonsin by county

Pecentage of Black Population Incarcerated in Wisconsin by county

“According to the census, Dodge County has a black population of 2,142 people. Without doing any research beyond the statistics delivered to us from the latest census, one might conclude that there has been a rise in communities of color within this predominantly rural county. However, after looking closer, we realize that 89 percent (1,196 persons) of the black population within Dodge County is incarcerated. The county is the site of two major state prisons, the Fox Lake Correctional Institution and Waupun Correctional Institution.

According to Peter Wagner, director of the PPI, this type of redistribution of the population “impacts how redistricting and political power is exercised in the state.” As a “demographic distortion”, it affects both urban and rural communities. He notes: “These demographic distortions affect both urban and rural communities due to this confluence of increasing prison population and growing rural unemployment, as population-scaled federal and state funds are tipped towards rural prison communities and away from urban communities of color.” Follow this link to the full report.