How China Sees the West

Strange Maps blog has an interesting post regarding the current cover illustration on The Economist news weekly:

The Economist is concerned about the present state of affairs, as they should be:

Although in public China’s leaders eschew triumphalism, there is a sense in Beijing that the reassertion of the Middle Kingdom’s global ascendancy is at hand.

I love The Economist and really miss reading the print copy every week (budget just can’t support that habit right now).  However, I’m tending to agree with some of the comments on Strange Maps site.  Perhaps a better title for the graphic (if not the article) would have been “How China Sees the West”.  I certainly would have at least stuck a skyscraper at Vancouver, BC (Canada), but they didn’t ask me.

Already a big idea has spread far beyond China: that geopolitics is now a bipolar affair, with America and China the only two that matter. Thus in London next month the real business will not be the G20 meeting but the “G2” summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao.

There is alot about China I don’t pretend to understand.  Although I think The Economist may be oversimplifying their graphic design, their ultimate point is well to consider.

Far from oozing self-confidence, China is witnessing a fierce debate both about its economic system and the sort of great power it wants to be—and it is a debate the government does not like. This year the regime curtailed even the perfunctory annual meeting of its parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), preferring to confine discussion to back-rooms and obscure internet forums. Liberals calling for greater openness are being dealt with in the time-honoured repressive fashion. But China’s leaders also face rumblings of discontent from leftist nationalists, who see the downturn as a chance to halt market-oriented reforms at home, and for China to assert itself more stridently abroad…

Wikipedia lists about 60 cities in China with a population of over 1,000,000 people—that’s urbanized population, administrative population (similar to our metropolitan areas?) is much larger.  Can you name more than 2?

I’m not sure I can.

In Praise of The Rocking R Bar

The Bozeman Chronicle has HAD a nice memorial to the Rocking ‘R Bar, which was destroyed in the explosion that gutted East Main Street on the 5th of March.

For more than a century, one building, near the corner of Bozeman Avenue and Main Street, has been a fixture of the town’s watering holes.  Historic photographs of downtown Bozeman depict a bar at this location as far back as the 1890s, and, according to local folklore, it’s always been known as the Rocking ’R Bar.

The Rocking ‘R was the kind of Third Place that a community needs to, well, build community.  I never spent alot of time there myself, but it was a place that townies and college kids could gather and let off steam.  It’s the sort of place that you can bring your parents to before the Homecoming Football game, then go back with your roomies that night for a hoot and a holler.

Urban planners love Third Places, but we seem to hate bars.  We love places where people can gather informally, socialize, build relationships.  We hate places that are loud and rowdy and obnoxious.  We carefully separate uses, require minimum parking ratios and rigid Food : Liquor sales ratios.  Then we wonder why we don’t have neighborhood taverns even though we’ve purposefully regulated the places into sprawldom.

Sometimes we’re too smart for our own good.  Raise a glass and sing praises of ancient days.

[Corrected when @BozChron took off the elink to the article 😦  This blog has a good sketch of the facades destroyed. ]

Census of Agriculture in Southwest Minnesota

Census Ag SRDC Presentation

Census of Ag SRDC Presentation

  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years.
    • “The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and many other areas.”  USDA defines a “farm” as any operation with $1,000 or more of agricultural production.”

  •  There were 8,333 farms in SW MN in 2007, up 2.8% from 2002.
  • 61% of farms in SW MN (5,124) harvested corn in 2007;
    58% harvested soybeans.
  • 26% of farms in SW MN (2,203) had Cattle in inventory in 2007
    11% had hogs, 4% sheep.
  • An average farm in Minnesota was 332 acres in 2007.
  • Median Farm in Minnesota was 148 acres in 2007.
  • 10% of farms in SW MN were >1,000 acres in 2007.
  • Almost half of farms in SW MN reported sales over $100k in 2007.
  • 15% of farms in SW MN had >$500k sales in 2007.
  • Average farm in SW MN realized ~$280,000 for Production, ~$211,000 Expenses in 2007.
  • ¾ of all Americans use the Internet; 2/3 of farms in SW MN.


(Trying out loading a PowerPoint presentation into WordPress.)

RFP Safe Routes to School Plan

The following announcement is posted as a free service of The Western Planner, a journal for planners in the West. Please contact the agency listed below for further information. Thank you, Debbie Ehlers, Editor of The Western Planner.


Request for Proposal
Laramie County School District #1
Safe Routes to School Plan

   The Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and City of Cheyenne Parks and Recreation Department hereby request professional services for two community plans.

    The principle deliverable for this project will be one document composed of two stand-alone plans for the Cheyenne, Wyoming urbanized area: a Safe Routes to School Plan for the Elementary and Jr. Highs schools, and a Pedestrian Plan for the same area.

    The SRTS plan should include a public input process, and overview of school data, identification of transportation barriers, proposed solutions, mapping, and an action plan.  

        The Pedestrian Plan should include study area maps, pedestrian facilities inventory, best practices, Level of Service matrix, public involvement report, and list high priority projects.

  To view full RFP or

  Qualified firms are invited to submit ten (10) copies of a proposal, summary of qualifications, and an indication of interest in the project to:

Nancy Olson or Jeff Wiggins
Cheyenne MPO and City of Cheyenne Parks & Recreation
2101 O’Neil Avenue
Room 205 or 309
Cheyenne, WY 82001

 For further information or questions, contact Nancy Olson, Transportation Planner at 307-638-XXXX or Jeff Wiggins, Greenway Coordinator, at 307-638- XXXX. They can be contacted in writing at 2101 O’Neil Avenue, Room 205 or 309 Cheyenne WY, 82001.



I am not affiliated with Cheyenne or Laramie County, Wyoming.  I am a subscriber to The Western Planner and interested in the national Safe Routes to School program encouraging infrastructure so more kids can walk and/or bike to school.  Saw this on the WP email list and reposted (took out email/phone #s, you can look them up if you’re interested).

A Scholar’s Work

Minnesota Farm

Martin Krieger is Professor of Planning at the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning, and Development.  He blogs tips for doctoral students.  I once thought of being a doctoral student—then I got over it, they work too hard.  Prof. Krieger has a PhD in Physics, so that could make him a rocket scientist as well as a real doctor, I’m not that familiar with his work.  Just before Christmas he wrote:

Most very strong scholars live through their work. They are very productive, and their work reflects their strengths in a deep way. There are of course scholars who work very hard, but are not so strong even if they are productive. But these very strong scholars are in a different league.

I’ve been thinking alot about work-life balance for… oh, most of my life.  We know the Company Man is dead.  Nobody my age will work for IBM for 40 years.  We settled that 20 years ago, yet the 1980s are as far away for my kids as the 1950s were for me.

What is it going to mean to “live through your work” in 2010?  Does it mean the gosh-awful 80 hour work-weeks of doctoral students (and professors)?  Or the undergrad working two jobs just to scrape by?  Can it mean more?

Let’s go back back to the future. Look at 2010 thru the lens of 1910, when the majority of US population (54%) was still rural. Before the industrial revolution, the norm was life on a farm or in a small shop. You lived with your work—you got up, did the chores, had lunch with the family, rested on Sunday, got stuff done.  The farm was (and is) hard work, but it’s a life worth living.

It’s easy to work your life away; easy to live for your work.  To live through your work, though, that seems to me something more—to find expression for your life in what you do for a living.  To be strong in your chosen vocation is going to mean going the extra mile, but we can adapt schedules and communication tools to recreate the seamless farmyard where sometimes we’re balancing “real work” on Saturdays so we can picnic with the family Thursday afternoon.

Sounds like hard work, but work worth living.



Following the pied piper of social media, you can now find me at LinkedIn:

RT @BrickandClick Retweet @cheeky_geeky LinkedIn is my Rolodex. Facebook is my scrapbook. Twitter is my lifestream idea generator (hmmm)

I’m looking at my claim on my professional name @ LinkedIn as more of a defensive mechanism than an offensive move into new public policy career space.  I am more and more convinced of the old saw: It’s who you know as much as what you know.  So for those in the know, John Shepard be there on the Rolodex of Web 2.0.  All 3 dozen of us.

Mostly it’s another bee in my bonnet on the topic of work-life integration.  There’s some buzz going on there.

As for Facebook, yeah.  Scrapbook.  that’s good.  I’m leaving lots of scraps on there.  Not keeping track of my Friend-count to see if I’m scaring ’em away.

Twitter, tho, that is becoming my idea drug of choice, in multiple flavors @johnshepard, @jcshepard, @johncshepard.  Watching The Matrix In Code.  Good ideas.  Bad ideas.  Data, data, data….


Edit 4 Feb 09: 8 Twitter Networking Tips: From Online to In-the-Flesh 

1. Use Your Twitter Profile As You Would a Business Card, 2. Let Your Twitter Feed Be Your (Ongoing) Portolfio, 3. Grow Your Twitter Network, 4. Get the Lowdown, 5. Tweet Yourself Up, 6. Ask for Help, 7. And Help Others, 8. Plan a Tweetup.

Kiwi Architecture

Friends of mine had the opportunity to work on sabattical in Christchurch, New Zealand last year.  Dan Barringer is an architect, now back in Ohio.  While he favors a more avant garde style than I, he’s a smart guy and knows architecture.  Dan posted some bullet observations & photos on architecture in New Zealand on his blog. 

  1. Along with the social and political framework of a planned city, comes a idea of an architectural style to match. Style can come from existing cities that match the social and political ideals of the planned city.

We can argue about urban planning another day.

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