Cultural Geography – Neighborhood Mapping Project Cultural Landscape

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Cultural Geography – Neighborhood Mapping Project

Cultural Landscapethe modifications humans have made to the environment. It reflects the culture of the occupants. If a different cultural group occupied that space in the past, there will still be evidence of their culture as well. It includes the built environment, such as buildings, roads, and signs, as well as modifications to the original landscape, such as parks and recreation areas.

Cultural Landscape: A cultural landscape is an irregularity in the natural landscape that is the result of human interaction with the natural landscape. Sometimes this is a "built" environment and sometimes it involves rearranging the natural landscape. Each culture has central cultural forces, which result in leaving a different pattern on the cultural landscape. "A cultural landscape is an area that has ... evolved over many years -- perhaps over 100 or even hundreds of years," Melnick says. "It doesn't reflect one designer or person, it evolves from the needs of the people living there at the time, and results in built forms that give us a piece of our history." The term "cultural landscape" was defined comparatively recently, says Michael A. Tomlan, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. "In a cultural landscape we see a series of human activities that have taken place on the land," Tomlan says. "This gives us an understanding of the history that we wouldn't otherwise have."

Significance: Cultural landscapes give us a sense of place. They are part of any group's heritage, and part of each of our lives. They reveal our relationship with the land over time. As with historic buildings, cultural landscapes are special places that reveal aspects of our country's origin and development through their forms, features, and history of use. More than just gardens and parks, cultural landscapes may range from thousands of acres of rural land to a small homestead with a small front yard. Cultural landscapes include, campuses and estates, cemeteries and burial grounds, agricultural and industrial complexes, even rural villages and mining communities.

  -from the website of Minnesota Alliance Geographic Education

Your assignment: Pick a small area in your neighborhood, including at least one or two commercial blocks. Map it out, including the types of businesses, style of architecture, signs, landscaping, and any other “built landscape” features. Use the questions and explanation above in choosing what to map and how to present it. The map can be very crude, just be sure to label everything. Include as many details as possible. The map MUST be hand-drawn, no computer-generated maps!
Now analyze your data. Look at your map and try to interpret what you recorded. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer for this – just try to analyze your observations and explain in detail why you answer the way you did. In other words, explain your reasoning. Answer the questions below, then look for some other conclusions you can make based on your unique neighborhood. Cite specific details and examples from your observations. Be sure to discuss everything you include on your map! 3 pages minimum, about 1-2 paragraphs per question.

  1. What is the socioeconomic status of your neighborhood? Upon what evidence do you base your conclusion? Be specific. Is there evidence of a past economic level different from the present one?

  1. Is there an ethnic identity to your neighborhood? Is there more than one? What is the evidence? Be specific. Is there evidence of a past ethnic identity different from the present one?

  1. Is there a specific age group that appears dominant? How do you know? What does this say about your community? How will this affect the future of your community?

  1. What transportation does your community use? How do you know, what is the physical evidence? How is this related to socioeconomic status? Will this be the same in the future, or different? Explain.

  1. Is there a focal point, something that identifies your specific neighborhood or ties it together? This might be difficult in some cases, but look for a place where people congregate or a place most people would know. In the example “I live near the Glendale Galleria”, the Glendale Galleria is the defining aspect of the community and therefore would be the focal point. But not all neighborhoods have such an easy to find focal point – you may need to think about how the neighborhood functions to find a focal point.

  1. What cultural values do you find? What is the evidence for these values? Examples of values you might find represented are education, consumerism, leisure activities, religion, or any other social or cultural ideals you find specifically illustrated by elements of your particular cultural landscape. Remember, for this question you need to look at all the other questions, plus re-examine your map, to go beyond just the physical evidence – now you are interpreting what that evidence SAYS about your community. Discuss each value you find in detail and explain why you concluded that value was represented.

  1. What did you learn about your community from this assignment that you did not know before? Did you notice anything for the first time while doing this assignment? Why did you overlook it in the past?

Add any other interesting observations you can make about your neighborhood.

Note: This assignment does not ask you to look up the history of your neighborhood, but instead asks you to OBSERVE and record what you see. Then you will use the knowledge you have gained in this class to ANALYZE and INTERPRET what you see. Your map should include the things you discuss in your write-up; conversely, your write-up should discuss the things you show on your map.
Have fun with this assignment!
Grading: 10 points total awarded as follows-

5 pts – map: attention to detail, accuracy, neatness; map relates clearly to accompanying analysis

5 pts – analysis: answers all questions in assignment in a thoughtful manner; attempts to discuss specific features of the neighborhood in geographic terminology (from book, lecture, and/or assignment sheet); features shown on maps are discussed; personal input about the neighborhood and discussion of new understanding from doing the assignment.
When in doubt, write MORE not LESS. I care about CONTENT, not grammar (unless I cannot read it!)
There are no right or wrong answers – just your own thoughtful discussion of the topic. One sentence answers will not be accepted. In-depth, mature analysis is expected for each answer. Evidence for each conclusion must be presented. This assignment must reflect college-level writing and critical thinking.

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