Building the World

April 2, 2014
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45.3N x 34.4E: Power of Ports

The Crimea. Image courtesy of wikimedia.

Popular with the ancient Greeks, who called its main river Borysthenes, favored by the Romans, Bulgars, Goths and Huns, the Crimea offers port access on the northern border of the Black Sea, with the advantage of also being on the western shores of the Sea of Azov. In medieval times, the Crimean Khanate united the area, but later it became the Taurida Oblast in 1783, and still later the Soviet Crimean Oblast, transferred to Ukraine in 1954. Finally, in 1991, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was born, only to be challenged in 2014. Why so many changes ? Advantageous port territory, milder winters, access to the Dnieper River (fourth largest in Europe). Today operating more than 12 seaports, the Crimea demonstrates the power of ports. The importance of waterways and ports can also be seen in the Canal des Deux Mers and the Erie Canal. Another famous port,  St. Petersburg, once the capital and Russia’s largest seaport, still carries the cultural imprint of its founder, Czar Peter the Great, in 1703. Can present day Crimea take inspiration from aspects of St. Petersburg’s success, including business monopolies? Perhaps in partial explanation of why the game’s greats are often Russian, St. Petersburg was once the only source of chessboards. What strategies for economic and cultural success should the Crimea envision for coordinates 45.3N by 34.4E?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

December 23, 2013
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Baghdad: Madinat-as-Salam

Peace Symbol. Courtesy: wikimedia commons.

Riding a white horse, Caliph al-Mansur lept from his steed, unsheathed his sword, and drew three concentric circles in the sands of the land shining before him, proclaiming: “Here we will build the City of Peace, Madinat-as-Salam.” Calendar year 145 (or A.D. 762) proved auspicious; the Caliph had indeed found advantageous terrain. On the Tigris River, a trade nexus was born, at one time the wealthiest in the world and one of the most beautiful. Since then, the world has known that city under a different name: Baghdad. It is a place now rebuilding: new infrastructure, new water and energy systems, and perhaps a new vision. New Baghdad has an opportunity to claim its destiny of Madinat-as-Salam, City of Peace.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

July 30, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Power in Egypt

Giza pyramids and Sphynx, Library of Congress at loc.gov

As Egypt forms a new cabinet, will Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi consider rights — human and environmental? Electricity Minister Ahmed Imam, initially appointed by Morsi, must now address Egypt’s growing power needs (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/egypt/2013/07/20137195138823979.html). Might Egypt draw lessons from the High Dam at Aswan?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

June 12, 2013
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Bright Idea – TVA

http://www.publicdomainfiles.com/images_view/51/13525742419998.png

Did the United States become a society driven by electricity because of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)? Tesla proved water could produce electricity;  the Hoover Dam, followed closely by the Tennessee Valley Authority, supplied it. But it took Norris town to show people how to use this new energy. Designed as housing for the women, men and families who came to the Knoxville area to work on the TVA, Norris was a showcase for electricity. At a time when few homes had wired power, the town offered refrigerators in every kitchen, and overhead lights on the porches of every house (porches were a hallmark of Tennessee life and remain popular today, evidenced by Porch Rocker and Parton songs). Well-lighted public schools invited new environments for learning. Peak/off-peak and low rate/high use policies were another innovation, encouraging development of all things electric. Can Norris and the TVA reveal ways to demonstrate products and power from new energy sources, such as solar? What is the next bright idea?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

June 6, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Agua – Colorado River

Colorado River in Mexico. Library of Congress, United States, LC-DIG-stereo-1s00953.

Minute 319 might not solve the problem. Some say Mexico and the United States need to take a radically different approach. The November 10, 2012 decision of the International Boundary and Water Commission of the United States and Mexico tried to address effects of the 2010 earthquake in the Mexicali Valley, Baja California, on the Colorado River Basin (www.ibcw.gov/Files/Minutes/Minute_319.pdf). In 1922, the Colorado River was parceled among the Upper Basin United States of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico (9.25 billion cubic meters per annum) and the Lower Basin Arizona, California, Nevada (10.45 billion cubic meters. By 1944, Mexico claimed their, previously unspecified, water rights (1.85 billion cubic meters per annum). Rights of Native Americans, including the Navaho, would follow, determined decades later, perhaps advantageously in this age of water valuation. In 1922, it was not easy to estimate water needs; original allocation of the Colorado River was set above projected needs. Add to that the fact that in the 1920’s the river’s flow was above-normal (http://www.forbes.com/sites/stratfor/2013/05/14/u-s-mexico-the-decline-of-the-colorado-river/). Organizational structure and management of the river lacks basin-wide coordination. Many might agree with Professor of Law Gabriel Eckstein’s recommendation that Mexican and United States “subnational entities at the regional and local level pursue cooperation in the form of locally-specific, cross-border arrangements” (www.internationalwaterlaw.org). For example, Nogales, Sonora businesses have cooperated with the public water authority of Nogales, Arizona, for more than 40 years. Deciding sustainable use policies of transboundary water resources might be part of the future of Tratado de Libre Comercio de America del Norte (TLCAN) or also known as NAFTA, upon its 20th anniversary on January 1, 2014. What is the future of water rights in North America? Other regions? What is the destiny of water? Agua de mayo, pan para todo el año.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

April 2, 2013
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Connection and Innovation

Worker on the Erie Canal, From Library of Congress, at loc.gov.

Linking Lake Erie via the Hudson River to New York City, the Erie Canal changed the economy of the United States. Internal waterways have stimulated advances in culture and exchange dating back to China’s Grand Canal. Many jobs were created; workers flocked to construction sites along the route. They lived together in camps, developing team organizational skills that would characterize American business. Innovation flourished; Erie saw the first hydraulic cement used in the United States. Open for business in 1825, the waterway was an instant success. Before it cost $100 per ton to transport goods over land; now, $10 per ton. A museum dedicated to the Erie Canal is housed in the only existing weighlock building in the United States (http://eriecanalmuseum.org). The Erie Canal could be called the Internet of its day: both were connection routes financed by government but developed by the private sector. Entrepreneurial ventures sprang up, soon exceeding initial cost of building the route. How does connection stimulate innovation? What’s beyond the Internet?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

February 12, 2013
by zoequinn001
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Charles Ives’ “The New River”

London traffic, from The Guardian, at guardian.co.uk.

The American composer’s “The New River” is a song that in title might sound as if it were about England’s human-made waterway, but instead Ives talks about a different kind of river, one of noise. The song for voice and piano has these lyrics:

“Down the river comes a noise!

It is not the voice of rolling waters.

It’s only the sound of man,

phonographs and gasoline,

dancing halls and tambourine;

Killed is the blare of the hunting horn.

The River Gods are gone.

Fortunately, the New River in England continues to preserve its bucolic nature through walking paths designed to help the public admire the English countryside not too far from London. In fact, some would say that without the beauty of the walking paths and their healthy lifestyle, Britain could have been less attractive due to the river of noise. Consider London Monday morning traffic reports.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

March 27, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Let’s Take a Walk

“The River Lea at Ware” from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, at hertsmemories.org.uk.

Walking along riverbanks is a beloved English pastime, and in a country with so many rivers compared to its size, why shouldn’t it be? While it may not be a true (or new) river, the New River attracts its fair share of strollers as well. The Ramblers, a group dedicated to creating and/or maintaining walking routes in Britain, have created a path along the New River, as well as many of its source rivers, like the River Lea shown above.

Other sites worth visiting if you’re an avid walker include:The Long Distance Walkers Association, The UK Rivers Network, The Walking Englishman, and many, many more!

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

March 20, 2012
by zoequinn001
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London Bridge is Falling Down!

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Most children have played the game “London Bridge is Falling Down” while singing the accompanying song. Even today the game is performed on popular children’s shows, such as “The Wiggles.” It is a testament to the longevity of a poem about a bridge that had anything but.

The poem refers to the the number and types of bridges built in that location that led to Henry II’s decision to make one of stone to withstand fire, floods, and invaders. The poem suggests that even if made of steel, the bridge will always require replacement. The most recent London Bridge was finished in 1972 and still stands today. It has a long time to go, however, as the bridge that began construction under Henry II lasted over 600 years!

For more information on the nursery rhyme please visit http://www.rhymes.org.uk/london-bridge-is-falling-down.htm
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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

March 6, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Why Does London Need Two Rivers?

“The London Bathing Season” From Punch Magazine, July 3, 1858, found at victorianlondon.org.

Despite, or perhaps because of the creation of the New River, the River Thames saw little improvement. The Thames continued to be a health hazard as the decades passed. In the summer of 1858, the disposal of human waste into the Thames (ironically due in large part to the invention of the more sanitary flushing toilets) led not only to an outbreak of cholera in the city, but to a period known as “The Big Stink.” The Big Stink wasn’t all bad, however, as it eventually led to the study of the role of the sanitary conditions in disease.

Even today the Thames has a ways to go before it becomes drinkable again. Residing in the middle of a city still lends it to easy trash disposal, and “trash eaters” have been made to roam the tidal river snacking on plastic bags, newspapers, and, oddly enough, water bottles.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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