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Showing posts from October 9, 2011

Imagine Better -- Writer's Poke #327

According to a Forbes.com article, by the year 2030, 5 billion of the world’s 8 billion people will live in cities, but it isn’t the urban lifestyle that most of us might imagine in the United States. Rather, 2 billion people will be living in slums.

I don’t think any of us can really imagine what it is like to live in a slum. Can you imagine, for example, what it is like for 600,000 slum dwellers in Mumbai, India, to live in one square mile? For sake of comparison, consider the geographic size of Rochester, Minnesota. Rochester has just over 100,000 people in its geographic boundaries, but how big is Rochester from north to south and east to west. From Target South to 55th Street is at least five miles, and from U.S. 52 on the west side to RCTC on the east side is at least 5 miles. So, the greater Rochester area is at least 25 square miles. For Rochester to have the same population density as the Mumbai slum, it would need to have a population of 15 million!

Imagine what Rochester …

America's Boiling Pot -- Writer's Poke #326

According to popular legend, if you try to place a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately leap out. If, on the other hand, you place that same frog in a pot of lukewarm water and increase the temperature to the boiling point ever-so-slowly, it will remain in its bath until cooked.


For some reason, the lesson of the frog came into my mind when I was thinking about the American melting pot metaphor. Traditionally, the melting pot has been seen as a positive image, but over the past 30 years or so, more and more people have pondered just how positive having previous cultural identities melted down into one truly is.

Do we really want the same strip-mall culture from sea to shining sea? When I was in Denver over the weekend, I was able to make a Target run, and the Target was set-up exactly like my local Target. When we ate at Cracker Barrel, it had the same “local store” and the same menu as any Cracker Barrel anywhere. Granted, strip-malls and branding isn’t what people us…