Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A region of its own

A million years ago, when I was a senior in college, I took a class in cartography. Remote Sensing & Image Interpretation was my major, and cartography was a requirement. In this class, we created maps, we didn't interpret them. 
One of our text books was Joel Garreau's book Nine Nations of North America. The book 're-mapped' North America into nine distinct nations, and it looked like this:
(Image from Wikimedia Commons by A Max J, and licensed under the Creative Commons.) 

One of our projects, as students of this class, was to create a new map of North America using parameters, data, or features that could/should create smaller nations. 
My class was a creative bunch. One colleague looked back to the Civil War and regrouped our continent into subsections of Yankee/Conferderate batallions. He took each side and subdivided, evening out the number of soldiers per region. He failed this project, as his groupings did not allow for Canada to exist.
Another colleague divide North America into sections by religious affiliation. Picture 'red state v blue state' maps we see every election - but she threw in other tones and hues (mauve, pomegranate, violet...) and cataloged religious values. Hmmm.

I discovered this exercise brought out the socialist in me. I wanted everyone to be equal trade zones. I regrouped North America by commodity zones. Each zone/section had to have balance of trade with another zone/section. Everyone had to live in trading harmony. This was a tough task - the research alone gave me headache and wore my number crunching brain to collapse. But I achieved trade of balance among my seventeen small nations. HURRAH! And I announced that nations could still blossom or gain monies by marketing non-commodity 'things'. Like tourist trade. Or transportation systems. I was only socialist when it came to balance of trade. 

Well, now I have grown up. The country will (probably) never subdivide into 9 nations or 17 trade zones. But we still have regions of distinction. And we like to look for those patterns - those regionalisms that unite a couple states or zones or just the citizens. 

And this is pattern I have seen in "The Foundry" (now better known as the Rust Belt?).

Every town has a tavern, a bar, a saloon. 
And each one has a name.
And it sure is fun to stop in for a burger and a brew.



Sandra said...

i did not realize there were still signs like this out there. i will have to see if they are here, i don't remember ever seeing one since i was a child.

Banjo said...

Alas, poor rust belt. Sounds like somebody's in, or remembering, Wisconsin again.

You make it a fun post with the pics and picturesque names, but the serious part at the beginning was plenty interesting too. Ever since the foolishness of many current borders occurred to me, I've wondered what more rational kinds of borders there might be--and what it would take to achieve them. Socialism? I hope not, but if we don't gain some common sense on our own . . . . I didn't know there was a major in such things.

altadenahiker said...

Great signs! And I always like your mapping lessons.

Tracy said...

Socialism ain't so bad when done right. Capitalism ain't so bad when done right, too. Now if someone would just come along and do them right. :-)

Loved the signs - I remember these from my childhood, too. PBR has achieved a sort of snarky cult status among my snobby Scottsdale friends. Whatever. :-)

Elaine said...

The one common denominator in all the towns across America!

Kathy said...

I loved the map! By the way, I'm heading for "Dixie" Saturday!

Whitemist said...

This is the kind of thing i love!
Any pub or "hole in the Wall" with a sign like that would get a visitation when i visited the place - always the best food/fare.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

if you'd taken up the beer borders, you might have had a problem coloring within the lines

Pat Tillett said...

That must have been an interesting class to take. you know I'm craving a beer now, right?