Optimizing Travel-Time Between North Carolina High School Football Playoff Teams Using an Origin-Destination (O-D) Matrix

The state of North Carolina conducts it annual post-season high school football championships over a 5 week period beginning in early November.  Schools are classified according to their enrollment, ranging from 4A (the largest classification) down to 1A so that each classification contains roughly the same number of schools.   The cutoff for the 4A classification is approximately 1,400 students, while the largest 1A school has an enrollment of approximately 670 students.  These enrollment numbers are revisited every 4 years so changes in a school’s classification are dictated by increases or decreases in enrollment during that time period.  It is not uncommon for a school to change classifications based on enrollment changes versus those other schools near the cutoff lines.


The state of North Carolina conducts one of the most comprehensive post-season football tournaments in the country.  Based on their record, the 64 best teams from each classification qualify for the tournament, with the 32 largest schools being part of the ‘AA’ tournament and the rest being part of the ‘A’ tournament.  For example, Riverside High School in Durham was the 25th largest school to qualify for 2013 4A tournament.  They compete in the 4AA Football Championships.  On the other hand, Hillside High School in Durham was the 56th largest of the same 64 teams to qualify for the 4A tournament and are part of the 32 team 4A Football bracket.  As a result, the NCHSAA (North Carolina High School Athletic Association) awards 8 championship trophies.


For each 32-team bracket, the teams are placed into an East and West region, and then seeded 1 through 16 based on record.  In the first round, the region’s #1 seed (best record in the region) plays against the #16 seed (lowest qualifying record in the region), the #2 seed (2nd best team in region) plays the #15 (2nd lowest qualifying team in the tournament), #3 vs. #14, etc. for 8 total games with the winners advancing to the next round.  The winner of the #1/#16 seed game plays the winner of the #8/#9 seed in the next round, as well as 3 other match-ups between 1st round winners.  In the 4th round, the survivor of the games will play in the regional championship culminating in the state championship game pitting the regional champions in the 5th week.


It is common practice for the selection committee to hang a string over a paper map of North Carolina representing a north-south running line (otherwise known as a meridian) so that the 16 teams lying to the right of the string be placed in the East region while the remaining teams are placed in the West region.  This can be problematic for teams in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, as they vacillate between regions (East and West), as well as classification (AA or A) on a yearly basis depending upon the sizes and locations of teams qualifying for the postseason tournament.  However, it is difficult to prevent this situation without undermining the entire playoff system.


Each region is split into two quadrants of eight teams, with the winner of each quadrant playing in the regional final to determine who advances to the state championship game.  One quadrant contains the #1,#4,#5,#8,#9,#12,#13 and #16 seeded teams in the region while the other quadrant contains the #2,#3,#6,#7,#10,#11,#14 and #15 seeded teams. While it appears that some attempts to place teams in the same quadrant (or at least first round game) by location have been made, these attempts seem random and haphazard.  For example, of the five teams from the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area qualifying for the 4AA playoffs, three of them (West Forsyth, East Forsyth and Grimsley) appear in one quadrant while the other two (Northwest Guilford and Page) appear in another quadrant.  While an argument could be made to separate the two teams from the area with 10-1 records (#1 seed West Forsyth and #3 seed Northwest Guilford), they play in separate conferences and didn’t meet during the regular season.  In addition, another 10-1 team (Hough High School) was seeded #5 in the region and placed within West Forsyth’s quadrant.


While there is a method behind it, this configuration disregards existing transportation networks, most notably roads, that may better group teams based on a better metric than just grouping on a map and the predilections of a select few athletic administrators.  Distance can be measured different ways.  Manhattan, Euclidean [Blanchard and Lyson (2006], or driving distance along a vector road network [Van Hoesen et al. (2013)] are all potential options to create regions based on these types of distances. It is also common in social quantitative research to consider travel time along existing transportation networks as a more accurate quantification of proximity rather than simple geographic proximity.  Teams that are located closer to major Interstate highways in the state such as Routes 85, 40 and 95 can travel much further in the same amount of time than a team that may need to travel along state or local roads.  This may change quadrant configurations.


This research will explore the notion of creating four quadrants (two for each region) of eight teams for each football bracket based off driving time.  Using GIS tools, an O-D (Origin-Destination) Matrix can be created to determine the drive-time between all 16 teams in a region that will be competing against each other for a berth in the state championship game.  Using statistical programming techniques, matrix optimization methods will create the two sets of eight teams within each region whose average driving time between each other has been minimized.  These eight teams can be seeded into their appropriate brackets or optimized even further to create sub-regions (called pods) in concert with seeding to prevent the best teams from meeting in first round games.  This paper focuses on the feasibility of creating theses quadrants and evaluating the efficacy of these methods.


These optimized brackets were compared to the brackets created for the 2013 football post-season to determine which of the eight brackets could have benefited most from this new algorithm design.  Preliminary analysis of the 4AA and 2A brackets has shown that each bracket would benefit from this dynamic algorithm.  Maps for each tournament, showing the bracket organized by officials versus the optimized bracket make that apparent.  However, geostatistical techniques can quantitatively reinforce these configurations.  Point pattern metrics such as the Average Nearest Neighbor and the Getis-Ord General G statistics show that the computer-generated quadrants created are in fact statistically better than their counterparts created by the NCHSAA.  These metrics will be run for all quadrants within all eight tournaments to determine football brackets that deviate furthest from optimal configuration.  From there, officials can explore the qualitative reasons for these deviations, any possible remediations and recommendations for future configurations that take these qualitative reasons into account.


For the 4AA bracket, all but five teams are located within the I-40/85 corridor in the Raleigh / Durham, Greensboro / Winston-Salem and Charlotte areas.  For the 2A bracket, teams range from ElizabethCity in the east all of the way to TransylvaniaCounty in the west.  Given the sheer size of North Carolina and placement of the qualifying schools that changes from year to year, this dynamic algorithm can be implemented on a yearly basis so schools are competing against teams so that fans, players and participants can save valuable time, money and resources traveling to games.

Neoliberal Racism: The “Southern Strategy” and the Expanding Geographies of White Supremacy

In the late 1960′s political strategist Kevin Philips published The Emerging Republican Majority a book that “foregrounded the changing political and social landscape in the US South” (Brunn et al 2011: 514). Philips argued the Republican Party would enjoy a period of unparalleled success beginning in the 1970′s that would culminate in victories in national and regional elections. Republicans would achieve these victories by taking advantage of the racial animus created through the struggle over civil rights. Philips’ idea capitalized on the racial antipathy of working class whites in an effort that would bring Republicans to power and would create political conditions that would allow Republicans to enact a broadly conservative agenda in the United States. The strategy he articulated, ultimately known as the Southern Strategy, refers to an effort to gain political support for conservative Republican candidates by appealing to veiled and oftentimes coded, but sometimes overt, racist messages directed at disaffected whites.  He explains, “[the strategy is based on] the hostility of Irishmen, Italians, and Poles, whose ethnic traits were conservative, towards Jews, Negroes, and affluent Yankees, whom history had made liberal. There were more of the former and they were ineluctably trending Republican” (Boyd 1970: 215). At the time Philips was dismissed as crass and overly cynical, but viewed through the prism of hindsight, he perfectly captured the changing nature of American electoral politics and the changing nature of American racism.


While scholars have long studied the Southern Strategy from the standpoint of the electoral and political geography of the US (Black 2009; Aldrich 2000; Aistrup 1996), or its implications for race and racism (Brown 2004; Strong 1971) I argue an underappreciated, yet no less important implication, is the role the Southern Strategy played in animating the political economy of the United States and specifically what comes to be known as neoliberalism (Peck 2011; Woods 1998).


Connecting the Southern Strategy with a broader economic argument crystalizes the role race plays in the development of the US political economy and the implications for understanding the way race and capitalism in the US are co-constituted with each other. By appealing to a kind of universal white supremacy the Southern Strategy provided cultural cover for the restoration of class power that was surrendered through Keynesianism, specifically because in the US class power is always connected to understandings of whiteness and race (Lipsitz 2011; Gilmore 1999). As a consequence, through an examination of the Southern Strategy we can trace the changing coordinates of the US political economy and racism as the US made the transition from Keynesianism to neoliberalism. By outlining and reworking the changing nature of racism, from the overt white supremacy of previous eras to the subtle, yet no less destructive kind of racism that predominates in contemporary US society, the Southern Strategy speaks to the changing socio-spatial manifestations of racism in the United States. This has implications not only for the way we come to understand neoliberalism, but also for the way actual existing neoliberal economic policies are enacted and maintained.


In order to make the arguments in this paper I first begin with a broad discussion of neoliberalism and race. Importantly, I am not arguing that neoliberalism is inherently white supremacist in its foundation. Instead, and as scholars have noted (Springer 2010), neoliberal ideology connects with social and cultural structures to accomplish broader economic aims. Within the United States this reality means that neoliberalism necessarily engages with race in fundamental ways that add nuance to how actually existing neoliberal policies in the US are enacted and carried out. From there I engage more explicitly with the process by which neoliberalism “fixes” race in a US context. Finally I offer some concluding remarks on the implications for the way we study andultimately how we actively resist the destructiveness of neoliberal economic policies.




Human Agency and Organic Landscape Lobotomy

Landscape: a concept and experience of one facet of reality. Place names and public memorials: markers of celebration and remembrance. Lobotomy: a neurosurgical, purportedly therapeutic, procedure used in the early 20th century. The first is usually considered the configuration of an area’s material reality as understood by a viewer and as an expression of the culture of the people living in the area. The second are symbolic representations of a people’s past made manifest by means of decisions about what is of enough value to individuals or the group to be retained within lived space. The third is a surgical procedure during which selected nerve connections of the brain are severed to bring the patient into socio-behavioral compliance.


Creativity from improvisation is unpredictable and unevenly rewarding. But improvisation in scholarship can on occasion be the right way to proceed. At minimum, this means putting two or more unlikely conceptualizations together just to see whether they produce light. In that spirit, I raise the following two questions in this paper: Does landscape change ever constitute cultural lobotomy? Can such operations be seen as positive?


Landscape as Organic. If our understanding of landscape is bounded by materiality, then landscape is an array of objects on a portion of the earth’s surface, however generated and however comprehended subsequently. The array of objects may be dynamic, but it is a dynamic materiality—a complex of changing and shifting forms and placements. Landscape from this perspective may even be described metaphorically as an organism with components that appear or disappear, remain vibrant or decay, serve a current function or be present as a remnant and reminder of landscapes past.


However, our perspective shifts if we view landscape holistically and think of it as process, as change made apparent through forms and arrangements on the earth’s surface. Comprehended this way, landscape is more properly organic, life-like in essence, not merely in appearance. The organic heart of landscape lies in its essential and integral dynamics, not only in changes observed and measured.


This will undoubtedly strike some as borderline mysticism. But I am not reverting to the notion of landscape as a deterministic “superorganism” equivalent to the use of “culture” critiqued decades ago. (Duncan) To be blunt, landscape does not determine human behavior at the individual or group level. And a particular landscape at a particular time can be seen as an arrangement of material forms created by individuals and groups to serve their purposes in naturally occurring settings. (Lewis; Hart)


But landscape, like culture, offers context—one of life’s most important contexts. And like culture, landscape expressions, broadly viewed, are integral to life and in continuous flux. Instead of reviving the old arguments, I want to suggest that thinking of landscape as a process leads toward another way of understanding. As Needleman put it, “the growth of understanding consists not in the discovery of an answer, but in the experience of a question . . . leading to a new kind of questioning.” (Needleman, 89)


Markers of Remembrance. Memorials added to landscapes take many forms, (Zelinsky) but by definition all are overtly markers of remembrance. Some are erected in celebration or to honor valued persons. Others acknowledge tragic losses, whether of individuals or large groups. Some are outsized representations; others are more modest in scale. Some are given prominent positions in public spaces; others are more subtle and can be missed.


Whatever their original form and whatever meanings were intended, a memorial’s meanings change over time. Generations pass and cultures change, thereby redefining general understandings of the memorial object. Memorials, as both cultural and landscape features, are subject to the contextual framework each brings to the remnant object. And because both cultural and landscape contexts are in flux, any memorial becomes open to new interpretation and understanding over time.


Some memorials are subjected to intentional change. They may be removed and replaced, or they may be removed without replacement, the latter objects being “obliterated” from the landscape to use Foote’s terminology. (Foote) The intention behind alterations of any memorial may be new impulses to celebrate or honor someone, or to escape from a reference that no longer is acceptable or appropriate.


New, replacement place names, recognizable means of celebrating individuals or groups, are not always welcomed by those living in the place. The landscape context carries different meanings. The new name may not be a marker of remembrance but a claim of imagined characteristics or status. Or the name of a building or street may have been intended originally as a memorial honorific, but now the person once celebrated has fallen below a new threshold of acceptability. (Azaryahu; Till)


Street names are a form of public memorial less expensive to install than a large marble monument, but street name changes can be contentious nonetheless. A well-studied example is the landscape conversion to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. by changing urban street names. (Alderman 1996; 2000; 2006) For all the layers of difficulty associated with the MLK, Jr. changes, they represent memorial initiation for the most part rather than personal remembrance replacement. Most of the streets given Martin Luther King’s name were such routes as Airport, Ninth, Willow, or any number of equivalent impersonal labels. The commemoration was a memorial addition rather than a memorial replacement. The landscape process became evident with successful commemoration.


Individual behavior is generally considered an expression of what is personally valued. The social parameters defining the range of “acceptable” individual behaviors can change as social mores change, but it is hard to imagine a cohesive society without some behavioral limits. Extreme asocial and antisocial behavior by individuals and groups pose both practical and ethical challenges to society. If the behavior is evidently dangerous to others, society will exercise its power to control the unacceptable behavior. (Foucault; Percy) Prisons are usually made visible on the landscape either for reasons inherent in such facilities or as an overt political statement. In a similar vein, persons under social restriction may not be incarcerated but still be marked or made to wear highly visible apparel. Such individuals affect the dynamic meaning of the visible landscapes in which they are a present.


Efforts to control certain extreme individual behaviors without execution or banishment took a surgical turn in the mid-1930s with the advent of lobotomy. During this procedure neural pathways in the prefrontal cortex of the brain are severed. Criticism and resistance among neurosurgeons did not fully eliminate the use of lobotomy as a means of aggressive behavioral control until well into the 1940s when alternative electroshock and chemical therapies were developed and became widely-used substitutes.


Does Landscape Change Ever Constitute Cultural Lobotomy? Recall that landscape provides one of life’s fundamental contexts. It is conceptually an organic process because landscape is neither passive nor unchanging, and it is life-like because it participates in consequential reciprocity with the agents and forces with which it interacts.


Humans are one set of agents interacting with landscape. Many human-prompted interactions are unselfconscious. And they may be ephemeral, mere droplets sinking into the ocean of change made apparent in landscape. On the other hand, intentional and long-lasting changes imposed on landscape are more obviously reflective of a person’s or a society’s dominant needs and cultural values. Memorials are symbolic markers of such needs and values—tangible assertions of significance in the teeth of mortality.


But cultures change, and the interpreted importance of certain needs and values also change. When a remembrance marker becomes viewed as an extreme affront to the current social contract, it may be judged overly offensive, akin to an individual’s asocial or anti-social behavior. Sudden shifts in power and control provide opportunities for removal of the offending monument, the obliteration of an anti-social symbol in the newly defined political culture, for example. The living landscape is “lobotomized.”


In a more slowly changing culture, the urge to remove memorials raises challenges. The passion accompanying a memorial’s original intent certainly fades over time as life and landscape take on new meaning. The object may, for most, no longer offer the earlier responses. It has become a relic of history rather than an object of remembrance. As an historical marker, what was earlier intended to be a memorial marker will find defenders who do not want even uncomfortable aspects of their society’s past to be erased. For these defenders, erasure of history is a form of landscape forgetting carrying its own risks. Instead, they may wish for a different form of social therapy, an alternative to radical landscape lobotomy.


So does landscape change ever constitute cultural lobotomy? Yes, elimination of extreme social dissonance from organic landscapes can be acknowledged as lobotomy. Can such operations be seen as positive? The answer to this is more equivocal—sometimes “yes” and sometimes perhaps “no”—when alternative therapeutic methods are available.


Point Pleasant, West Virginia: negotiated place identity on a tourism landscape

Point Pleasant, West Virginia: Negotiated Place Identity on a Tourism Landscape

This paper focuses upon the tourism efforts in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a small town located at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. I maintain that Point Pleasant serves as an unusual case study because, without a single dominant tourism focus, it is in the process of coordinating efforts in the areas of heritage tourism, paranormal tourism and dark tourism simultaneously.

Point Pleasant: a Most Unusual Place
With a total population of fewer than 5,000 residents, Point Pleasant is unusual in several respects. First, in terms of physical geography, it is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Kanawha and the Ohio. Second, although many small towns in West Virginia promote their roles in the state’s history, Point Pleasant identifies most with the era of the nation’s founding rather than the more typical associations with the Civil War. Third, it is the location where two highly unusual events occurred that were covered in the national media. Between 1966 and 1967 there were numerous alleged sightings of a creature dubbed the “Mothman.” The events surrounding these sightings were the subject of the 2002 film, “The Mothman Prophesies,” which starred Richard Geer. The other event was the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge on December of 1967 which claimed over 40 lives in rush hour traffic during the holiday season.

Point Pleasant: A Heritage Tourism Destination
The current marketing of Point Pleasant as a heritage tourism site relies upon claims of historical authenticity in relation to the American Revolution. However, in 1909, state historian Virgil A. Lewis challenged the historical basis of such a claim as “manufactured history.” Any such controversy is absent from my conversations with Charles Humphries, Director of Mason County Development Authority. Humphries, in his late sixties, has the manners of a southern gentlemen and an ever-present twinkle in his eye when he describes his efforts to foster heritage tourism in Point Pleasant. Although he notes that the funding for the waterfront park was obtained prior to his arrival, it was the commissioning of huge murals for the town’s flood wall along the waterfront that situated the town historically for visitors. The commissioning of the murals promoted a local dialogue – in this case between historians, local people and Native Americans.

At the end of the flood wall is the beginning of Tu-Endie-Wei State Park, located at the point of the confluence. As mentioned earlier, the state park sports a federally funded monument dedicated to the militia men who died in the Battle of Point Pleasant. The park also serves as the burial site of Chief Cornstalk who was murdered at For Randolph after the battle and of “Mad” Anne Bailey. Chief Cornstalk’s monument is noticeably smaller and more peripheral compared to the larger and more centrally- located obelisk that honors the militia. The obelisk at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park reflects the late 19th century fad for monuments signifying events relating to American Independence (Corrales-Diaz 2013). Although the historical contextualization of the Battle at Point Pleasant is contested, the form of the monument situates the event symbolically in terms of traditions of national reverence and physically in terms of its central location within the park.

Point Pleasant: Paranormal Tourism Destination
In the period between November 1966 and December 1967 there were numerous local sightings of a creature that was dubbed the “Mothman” by the local press. In various accounts, the creature was described as standing erect and having glowing red eyes. Initial sightings occurred at a 3655-acre area known locally as the “TNT Area”. The site was used during World War II for the production of munitions which were stored in semi-covered concrete “igloos” intended to be invisible to enemy aircraft. The area is now a federally-owned recreational area officially known as the McClintik Wildlife Area.

Paranormal investigator John Keel visited Point Pleasant after the initial Mothman sightings. Five years later, he published The Mothman Prophesies which drew national attention to the Point Pleasant Mothman. Keel’s notoriety in relation to Point Pleasant was cemented in The Mothman Prophesies (2002), a major motion picture starring Richard Geer. Although the film is only loosely based on Keel’s book (and was filmed, not in Point Pleasant, but in Kittanning, Pennsylvania) it situated the Mothman and Point Pleasant in the context of mass popular culture.

Shortly after the film’s release, a local business owner saw an opportunity to capitalize on the film to promote tourism in Point Pleasant. Jeff Wamsley was the owner of several struggling record stores before he established the Mothman Museum in a store front on Main Street. Wamsley anticipated a major tourism boom as a result of the film.

The “boom” which Wamsley anticipated is part of a broader trend of “people travelling to destinations to recapture the distinctive sense of place portrayed on screen” (Alderman, Benjamin and Schneider 2012, p 13). The entrance to Jeff Wamsley’s Mothman Museum has a distinctly geographical twist. Mounted on the wall are two maps – one of the United States and the other of the world – with many pushpins indicating where visitors to the museum come from. The museum has a low-tech, grassroots and folksy ambience. In addition to offering the displays in his museum, Jeff also takes visitors on the Mothman Bus Tour which extends the range of a “Mothman Trail” by presenting a variety of places that are located several miles from downtown Point Pleasant.

With the increasing flow of tourists to Point Pleasant, Jeff and other local leaders decided to establish an annual “Mothman Festival” – a carnivalesque outdoor event downtown that features vendors, guest speakers and, even, a “Mothman Beauty Pageant.” Over the past 14 years, the festival has grown from a few card tables on the street to a major event that attracts, I was told, over 5,000 visitors.

A Mothman statue was installed on a small island in downtown Point Pleasant that had hosted a small war memorial for many years. While the focus on the Mothman is controversial among local residents, it is specifically offered to visitors for the purpose of generating revenue from tourism. Denny Bellamy explains that he is frequently asked whether he “believes” in the Mothman or not. His good-natured reply is:
I tell them, “I’ve never seen the Mothman, but I have seen Mothman money and we all believe in that!

Point Pleasant: Destination of Memory and Dark Tourism
On December 15, 1967 the “Silver Bridge” that connected Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio collapsed at rush hour. The tragedy left more than 40 people dead and tons of debris in the Ohio River. Although hardly a typical tourist attraction, the event can be viewed in terms of “Dark Tourism” in which tourists deliberately set out to experience a location of mass violence or tragedy (White and Frew 2013). When the replacement bridge was constructed in 1969, it was located enough south of the downtown area to completely bypass downtown Point Pleasant. While a contemporary visitor to the town might not see any evidence of the event as they drive across the new Silver Memorial Bridge, the downtown street that used to lead onto the Silver Bridge now dead-ends at the flood wall.

In addition to the physical juxtaposition of three Silver Bridge memorial markers with downtown sites, the tragedy also intersects with discourses of local heritage and, also, of the Mothman. For example, while the cause of the bridge collapse has been explained in terms of engineering, some have linked the collapse to Chief Cornstalk. Popular legend contends that Cornstalk placed a curse upon Fort Randolph (then located at Point Pleasant) at the time of his murder. Furthermore, there were alleged sightings of the Mothman on or around the bridge prior to its collapse. The storyline of the The Mothman Prophesies suggests that the Mothman sightings ceased after the bridge collapse.

Summary and Implications
By examining the geographical implications of tourism in Point Pleasant, West Virginia several conclusions may be drawn. While the local community leaders have no control over the town’s past — its colonial history, its paranormal events or its tragedy, they are exercising influence over the ways in which those events are contextualized. In an era of increasing competition for limited resources, the leaders of Point Pleasant show considerable versatility in their approach to tourism development. Beyond a focus on geographies of tourism, Point Pleasant serves as a vivid case study reflective of the longstanding geographical interest in how landscapes are the products of negotiated and situated discourses. Local tourism projects can manifest in changes in place perception and provide opportunities for residents and outsiders alike to re-imagine Point Pleasant and the state of West Virginia as a whole. This opportunity is especially significant given the history of negative media coverage and the dire images of Appalachia widely circulated during the “War on Poverty” of the 1960s.

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Projections of the Populations in the United States in 2100 at Risk of Inundation under various Sea Level Rise Scenarios

Nearly 40% of the US population currently lives in a coastal area [1] and these coastal communities are highly vulnerable to sea level rise, disastrous storm surges from hurricanes, and water management challenges from drought and flooding rains [2-5]. Additionally, many of these environmental phenomena will be enhanced due to climate change during the next century [6] with local communities increasingly burdened with creating adaptation and mitigation policies [7, 8]. Questions on the demographic impacts of climate change are some of the most pressing of our time and many scholars have begun making calls to address these questions [9-11]. In spite of this, the merging of Climate Science with population research has only begun to appear in the literature within the last ten years. To better understand the potential future populations at risk of sea level rise, there is a growing need to accurately understand the local population dynamics associated with climate change and sea level rise [9, 12, 13]. Population projections play a critical role in our understanding the future impacts on human populations due to sea level rise – a highly localized phenomenon [14, 15].


Estimates of the populations at risk of inundation from sea level rise often simply identify the locales at risk [16] or combine current population estimates with future sea level rise scenarios – rendering the future both static (population) and dynamic (sea level rise) [17, 18]. Additionally, sea level rise scenarios are often undertaken at scales of 10 by 10 meter pixels [19]; scales far smaller than the US county level where some estimates have previously been carried out [13]. Hence, it is necessary to develop spatially and temporally aligned population projections to assess the future populations at risk of inundation from sea level rise. This in turn will address fundamental questions concerning the vulnerability of future coastal populations in the United States to inundation from sea level rise. To assess these potential populations, here we present spatially and temporally contiguous projections of the populations at risk of inundation for the coastal United States for the year 2100.


Projecting Census Block Group Populations


We begin by extrapolating the U.S. Census Bureau’s vintage 2012 population projections for the United States from 2060 to 2100 [20] All states and counties are then projected utilizing a linear/exponential extrapolation approach – linear for states and counties that are increasing and exponential for when they are decreasing– ensuring that the sum of all States and counties equals that of the national projection, oftentimes called a ‘top-down’ approach [21] based on the period 1980-2010. For Census Block Groups (CBG), we employ the use of a modified Hammer Method [22, 23] and Housing Unit Method [24] extrapolated using the same lin/exp approach based on the period 1980-2010, ensuring the sum of all block groups in a county equal the county total. The projection method is explained in detail in Methods (with code in Supplementary Information).


The method leverages the use of the Census Bureau’s “year structure built” question to reconstruct previous housing unit inventories for 1940-present, projects the housing unit inventory, and combines it with persons-per-household (PPHU) and group quarters (GQ) populations to produce a robust small area population projection. This approach has previously been employed to understand coupled human-natural systems [15, 25].


This approach relies upon two main assumptions. The first is that population growth trends will continue to 2100 as they have from 1980 to 2010, an assumption not necessarily uncommon for long population projections [15, 21, 26]. The second is that both PPHU and GQ remain unchanged from their observed levels in the 2010 Census. Unlike with the projections of housing units, PPHU and GQ values from 1980 to 2010 are unknowable at the CBG level. Without CBG trend data of PPHU and GQ, we simply hold these values constant.


Assessing the Populations at Risk


We assess the populations at risk of sea level rise by using NOAA’s 0ft, 3ft, and 6ft sea level rise scenarios [27] for the continental United States through the use of a ‘bathtub’ model. These scenarios represent changes in the mean higher high water (MHHW) mark on areas that are hydrologically connected to coastal areas. While these scenarios do not take into account natural processes such as erosion, they do provide a dataset that is nationally consistent across states.


Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are expected to experience some form of sea level rise by 2100. We assess the populations at risk for sea level rise for all states and DC with the exception of Louisiana and Washington. Unfortunately, Louisiana currently lacks recent, accurate coastal elevation data and has a complex levee system. To date, Louisiana is the only state completely missing from NOAA’s sea level rise database and was thus excluded from this analysis. Washington State is also missing sea level rise modeling from the NOAA database as well and was excluded from this analysis.


The population at risk of sea level rise is assessed as the proportion of the CBG underwater at the 3ft and 6ft scenarios from the total CBG area minus the 0ft scenario. This is done to ensure that populations are not distributed to areas that are currently considered open water. The proportion of each CBG inundated is then applied to its projected 2100 population to assess the populations at risk of inundation.




Table 1 presents the results of this analysis for the 23 states and the District of Columbia that will see some population exposed to inundation by 2100. It suggests that the population at risk for the continental United States is over 10 million people in the 2m scenario. The distribution of the population at risk is heavily tilted toward Florida and Louisiana in particular. Some states will be affected, but only marginally, such as New Hampshire or Rhode Island.


Additionally, the relative risk of inundation is low with over 160 million people projected to reside in coastal communities in the United States by 2100 while less than 3% of the coastal population will be inundated under the 2m scenario. However, inundation risk seems to be concentrated in a few states that will experience the largest relative risks of inundation; those states are Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.


State Pop. 2100 6 ft sea level rise % at Risk
Alabama 1,020,367 59,759 5.86
California 46,853,127 849,899 1.81
Connecticut 3,835,568 92,238 2.40
Delaware 1,661,173 92,972 5.60
Florida 38,447,654 5,491,647 14.28
Georgia 1,269,872 192,803 15.18
Maine 1,560,094 26,415 1.69
Maryland 8,539,691 189,151 2.21
Massachusetts 6,183,744 368,982 5.97
Mississippi 684,323 66,151 9.67
New Hampshire 777,245 13,502 1.74
New Jersey 10,642,928 857,418 8.06
New York 17,220,100 634,407 3.68
North Carolina 3,371,269 318,223 9.44
Oregon 2,852,833 19,892 0.70
Pennsylvania 4,617,243 14,708 0.32
Rhode Island 1,242,013 23,129 1.86
South Carolina 2,957,907 396,651 13.41
Texas 1,871,498 98,823 5.28
Virginia 7,966,910 399,092 5.01
DC 452,605 2,846 0.63
TOTAL 164,028,164 10,208,710 6.32%


Table 1. Projected populations at risk of sea level rise by 2100.






Methods Summary


In Methods, we explain (1) our population projection calculations in detail including inputs for the projection model and (2) our assessment of the populations at risk of sea level rise. Code used to project the populations is also available in the Supplementary Information.


Can a Street Name Do Justice to the History of the Enslaved? The Politics of Remembering, Forgetting, and Finding Surrogates for the Past

Can a Street Name Do Justice to the History of the Enslaved? The Politics of Remembering, Forgetting, and Finding Surrogates for the Past






Newer work within place name studies, especially the study of street naming, stresses the cultural politics of naming and pays close attention to who controls the naming process (and conversely who does not) as well as the worldviews and historical identities given voice (or made silent) through these naming patterns. Yet, few scholars have examined street naming as a mechanism of social justice, a framework that recognizes how traditionally marginalized and victimized groups use place naming as a way of claiming dignity and identity as well as rehabilitating the history of their countries and communities.  The struggle to do justice to the memory of these marginalized groups is not an easy and direct retelling of history through the street name landscape.  Rather, street/place naming is a process that can be fraught with conflict because of the complex dialectic between remembering and forgetting and the difficulty of finding a suitable surrogate or symbol for long repressed and suppressed memories.




This paper provides examples from the US South of how the naming process serves as an arena for struggles over the remembering and forgetting of the history of the enslaved, recognizing that the commemorative street name landscape is the product of a creative and selective mixing of these two memory processes by both White and Black southerners.   As African Americans seek to remember slavery through street names, they face not only political struggles over whether to forget or remember, but also the difficulty of finding a suitable commemorative surrogate or signifier for representing the history of slavery. Underlying this paper is recognition of the inherent difficulties that accompany the narration of slavery through street naming and the obstacles that face the public as they seek to do justice to the history of the enslaved.






In order to understand the role of street naming in doing justice (or not) to the history of African Americans, it is important to understand the political dynamics of commemoration, particularly since it involves challenging long-standing racial inequalities in the representation of the past. The struggle to do justice to the memory of the history of marginalized groups is not an easy and direct retelling of history through the street name landscape.  The memory process cannot be divided so easily into either a matter of forgetting or remembering.  It is perhaps more useful to see these two memory processes as having a dialectic and recognize that they need to be thought of together. The commemorative street name landscape is the product of a creative and selective mixing of remembering and forgetting.




With respect to doing justice to the history of African Americans, the street naming process is controversial not simply because there is a choice of whether to remember or forget.  Rather street naming is also a process of “commemorative surrogation” and the political struggles that come with finding a suitable surrogate or signifier for the African American historical experience. Surrogation is a term first used by Joseph Roach and developed further by David Lambert in theorizing cultural representation in the circum-Atlantic world.  Reconstructing memory and identity in post-slavery societies can be problematic because of the historical, emotional, and political cavities created by the trauma of oppression and the difficulty of coming to terms with these memories for both the victim (the African American) and the perpetrator (the broader white society). In seeking to fill these voids, social actors and groups employ representational surrogates or substitutes for these previously marginalized histories, that is, they construct public commemorations meant to stand-in or embody those who suffered under and struggled against racial oppression.




The surrogation process can be fraught with controversy because of the different way that public audiences read and react to the representation of the past.  For example, commemorative surrogates can be deemed “deficient” because they only partially fills gaps in memory and identity (in other words, the surrogate remembers too little and forgets too much).  At the same time, commemorative surrogates can also be judged by the public as “excessive” in nature when it is seen as providing too much in terms of representing memory and supposedly open up new ruptures in the collective social memory and political relations within racialized societies (in other words, the surrogate remembers too much and forgets too little).  In the case of this paper, I am interested in commemorative street naming as a site for this dialectic between remembering and forgetting the African American slave experience and how the naming process is an arena for White and Black Americans to struggle and negotiate over what surrogates will be used to recognize and represent the history of the enslaved.




Surrogation in Wildwood, Missouri


Finding of a commemorative surrogate for the enslaved is especially difficult given that slavery remains a sensitive political topic for the conservative white establishment in light of calls for reparations, a source of traumatic memory and shame for some African Americans, and for other African Americans an important vehicle for moving forward discussions of social justice and the legacy of racism in the contemporary era.  In addition, the history of enslavement can be discussed in dramatically different terms.  Historian Ira Berlin Ira Berlin argues that public remembrance of the enslaved is ultimately a struggle over language. The public must consider questions such as: How much (or little) should be said about slavery? Should slaves be portrayed as pitiful victims or resolute heroes? To what extent will public discussions of slavery will lead to racial conflict or racial healing?




The stakes are extremely high in finding the proper surrogate in the case of street naming.  Unlike a monument or museum that has the luxury of using many phrases and images to depict enslavement, place and street naming demands an extreme efficiency in language.  Street naming requires that a single word, historical reference, or commemorated person symbolize and signify an issue that cannot really be reduced to the dimensions of street sign.  Moreover, street names are potentially controversial mediums for highly charged commemoration because they also exist as means of spatially orienting and identifying communities.  Street names are also actively involved in the branding of place for the purposes of commercial exchange and development, which can complicate the symbolic reparation process.  In this respect, we are prompted to ask, critically, whether commemorative street naming can truly do justice to the history of the enslaved and the efforts to have that history re-interpreted and recognized by the wider society in ways that communicate greater African American belonging and citizenship.




To illustrate how the street naming serves as an arena for highly charged debates over finding a surrogate for the history of the enslaved, I would like to discuss a recent controversy in Wildwood, Missouri, near St. Louis. In Wildwood, some residents living along the private road named “Old Slave Road” petitioned the city to remove the road’s name and replace it with another name.  This petition has led to a public debate how best to remember the history of enslaved through street naming and the degree to which different stakeholders see the name ‘Old Slave Road” as an appropriate or in appropriate surrogate for remembering slavery.




The entire debate in Wildwood is too large to cover in its entirety here.  However, please allow me to summarize the events and arguments.  “Old Slave Road” dates back to 1979, when a real estate developer named the road.  Previously, before the Civil War, the area had been the location of the Coleman plantation and Old Slave Road is believed to have been a road actually used by the enslaved to reach the plantation owner’s home.  Old Slave Road is also located close to a slave cemetery that members of the public have pushed to be cleaned up, preserved, and more prominently memorialized.  The Wildwood case illustrates how the public can interpret and react to street name commemoration of slavery by arguing that the surrogation process is excessive or deficient in nature.




Proponents of renaming Old Slave Road, which include 12 white property owners on the road, argue that the use of the word “slave” in the road’s name is offensive, adding that a larger landowner of the road has been selling off the property and many of the new owners feel uncomfortable with the name.  Those in support of renaming Old Slave Road sought a new name for the road that would not be an excessive surrogate for the enslaved, a commemorative signifier that would not reference slavery in a way that they saw as stigmatizing and unwelcoming.  In offering an alternative name for the road, opponents to Old Slave Road expressed a desire, in their words, to “really recognize” the history of slavery in the area by commemorating Elijah Madison on the road’s name.  Madison had been a slave on the Coleman plantation who secured his freedom by escaping and enlisting in the US Colored Infantry.  After the military, he returned to the Wildwood area, where he lived the rest of his life and established a successful farm.  While the proposed renaming of the street for Madison would honor a local enslaved person by name and put  a personal face on African American history, it also worked to remove the name ‘slave’ from public view, which appeared to be a major issue for opponents to the Old Slave Road appellation.  It is also worth mentioning that Madison’s story reaffirmed a story of emancipation and the overcoming of slavery rather than one necessarily about enslavement.  Supporters of keeping the name Old Slave Road have countered this proposal by arguing that it simply represented an effort to replace the word “slave” with a euphemism.  Madison might have been a slave, but who would know that his name signaled an effort to recognize the history of the enslaved.  Given the specific, personal nature of this commemorative surrogate, to what extent would it really symbolize the broader slave community, especially in light of the nearby slave cemetery? As one city councilman remarked: “Elijah Madison was a great man, but I don’t think he represents all people in the cemetery.”




In essence, supporters of Old Slave Road, who included descendants of enslaved people in the area, argued that Elijah Madison was a deficient surrogate.  While the process of publicly commemorating the enslaved in other parts of the US has often revolved around recognizing prominent individuals, there appeared to be concern among Old Slave Road supporters that the removal of that name would compromise the honoring of all slave descendants in Wildwood and that the road name belongs to the many nameless slaves buried in the area cemetery.  As pointed out by opponents, Elijah Madison is not buried in the slave cemetery in question.  An important contrast can be drawn here between Madison and those buried in the cemetery and the type of commemorative narrative Old Slave Road communicates about how we fully remember (or fail to fully remember) enslavement.  While Madison died a free man, most of those buried in the cemetery died while still in bondage and thus their story offers a different account of slave life on the Coleman plantation.




Arguably, there is tendency among the American public to move discussions beyond the horrors and trauma of enslavement and focus on the period of emancipation, which partly explains the tourism industry’s love affair with remembering the Underground Railroad and their equally passionate desire to forget and not mention by names of the enslaved when people visit plantations. Was Elijah Madison deemed a deficient surrogate because it allowed white property owners to easily avoid discussing and speaking the very word of “slave” and “slavery”?  For supporters of Old Slave Road, an attack on the street name was an attack on the legitimacy of preserving the slave cemetery, prompting us to think about the material struggles that often underlie “symbolic” debates over naming.  As one supporter argued: “The petitioners [of changing Old Slave Road] are attempting to decrease public awareness…disguise the location of the cemetery, and then just let neglect and the ravages of Mother Nature take care of the rest.”




Concluding Remarks 


Ultimately, the City Council of Wildwood voted on the matter on May 13, 2013.  The Council approved retaining the name Old Slave Road, believing that it is an appropriate memorial.  The small community of Wildwood is an interesting and compelling microcosm of the role that street naming has played (and will continue to play) in this question of how should the US remembers and forgets slavery and what commemorative surrogates best serve the interests of African Americans as they seek to reshape the landscape of memory in ways that signal that they both belong in the nation and that the nation also belongs to them.  To what extent can street naming truly “do justice” to the history of those victimized and discriminated against?  What obstacles face activist efforts to use street naming as part of the social justice process?




Geostatistical Methods to Measure Patterns of Black Bear Sightings in Northwestern New Jersey

The relationship between Black Bear (Ursus americanus) and humans in New Jersey is a tenuous one at best.  Although it is the nation’s most densely populated state, black bear are able to thrive because of prime habitat such as forested land, undisturbed wetlands, undeveloped open space, access to waterways in conjunction with plentiful access to natural and anthropogenic sources of food (Carr and Burguess, 2011).  However, expansion and movement of the bear population combined with increased human population growth into traditional bear habitats has forced wildlife officials to make reconciliations between enforcement, public education, euthanization of problem bears and bear harvesting in order to minimize bear-human conflicts.




While bear sighting data are collected for the entire state, this study is focused on the Northwest New Jersey counties of Hunterdon, Morris, Warren, Sussex and Passaic.  These five counties generally align with Bear Management Zones (BMZ) 1 through 5 created by the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW).  Only sightings of Category I (threat to life and property) and Category II (nuisance) bears were mapped based on GIS data provided by the NJDFW.  Current estimates place the New Jersey bear population at about 3,500 (Carr and Burguess, 2003; Diefenbach, 2006).  It is estimated that this number is now slightly less due to limited yearly bear hunts designed to contain population growth (Huffman et al., 2010).  Besides a court-ordered hiatus in 2004, these hunts have occurred every year since 2003 (Carr and Burguess, 2011).  The location of black bear, like almost any phenomenon, can be visualized and mapped within a GIS (Geographic Information System) to determine how and where to dedicate resources to minimize these conflicts and educate the public.




Domestically, much of the literature integrating GIS with animal distribution patterns explores spatial dimensions of deer-vehicle collisions.  It is no surprise that deer-vehicle collisions are increasing in the United States (Gkritza et al., 2013; Bissonette et al., 2008) as well as New Jersey, which has reported one of the nation’s largest increases (State Farm 2009).   Whether at the national (Huijser et al., 2007), state (Shuey and Cadle, 2001) or local (McKee and Cochran, 2012; Seifert, 2010) scale, the general tenor behind research is that deer-vehicle collisions exhibit spatial patterning and are not statistically random.  Studies to explore why this occurs have also been undertaken by researchers.  Using GIS, researchers attributed patterns of deer-vehicle collisions to speed limits during peak dear seasons (Ng, Nielsen and St. Clair, 2008), road attributes and development (McShea et al., 2008), proximity to elevated roadways (Hubbard, Danielson and Schmitz, 2003) and landscape heterogeneity (Hussain et al., 2007).  Given regional variations, accessibility to adequate data, reporting of data, reporting biases and problems working with scale (Shuey and Cadle, 2001), it is difficult if not impossible to model deer-vehicle collisions with any certainty that can be applied to other parts of the country.




To a lesser extent, GIS has been used to quantify the spatial distribution of bear throughout North America in hopes of understanding where bear-human conflicts do and can occur.  In Colorado, a well-known study (Baruch-Mordo et al., 2008) used GIS and geostatistical methods to explore clusters of bear-human conflicts at a coarse scale of 4.76 kilometers (2.96 miles).  Although methodologies varied, other GIS-based studies throughout North America included those in British Columbia using geostatistics (von der Porten, 2010), Montana using multivariate regression (Wilson et al. 2005), Alaska using buffer analysis and ANOVA testing (Smith, Herrero, DeBruyn, 2005) and Georgia using spatial models (Cook, 2007).




The NJDFW publishes an annual Black Bear Status Report (Carr and Burguess, 2011) which not only summarizes the types of bear calls (Category I – III), but maps both black bear sightings and habitat potential at the municipality and coarse pixel level.  A comprehensive study expounding on NJDFW data was undertaken by Rohrbach (2008) by using descriptive spatial statistics to look at general point patterns of bear sightings in New Jersey.  Like von der Porten (2010) observed in British Columbia, Rohrbach found it is difficult to quantify reasons within the confines of a GIS why this phenomenon occurs.




Using bear sighting point data provided by the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife from 2010 through 2012, more than 4,700 Category I (bears that are threat to life and property) and Category II (nuisance) bear sightings were mapped and analyzed within the study area of Northwest New Jersey.  While these point patterns have aesthetic value, they have little computational value beyond descriptive statistics to explain the entire dataset.  GIS analysis and spatial univariate statistics were used to better discern these patterns at a finer level.




Quadrat analysis uses a base polygonal unit called a quadrat which is represented usingequal sized squares created along a lattice.  The size of the quadrat is important as it needs to be large enough to capture a distinct spatial pattern, but not small enough to have many quadrats with zero frequency (Mitchell, 2005).  The use of the quadrat in this study is unique because bear sighting frequency within non-overlapping sub-county enumeration units such as boroughs, cities, towns and townships have been mapped by the NJDFW (Carr and Burguess, 2011). However, the varying sizes and shapes of these units, which include annular shapes may skew results and subsequent interpretation.  Wieczorek et al. (2011) showed this with point pattern phenomena when g


rouped within zip codes versus computer generated (hexagon and lattice) polygonal units.


Using quadrat analysis techniques, these points were counted within one of 2,679 square enumeration units and counted.  The distribution of these counts can be compared to a Poisson Distribution with the same input parameters.  A Kolmogorov-Smirov test showed that bear sightings do not follow the expected Poisson Distribution and their distribution can be attributed to factors besides pure randomness.




A density surface with 100 meter pixel resolution was created using a 1.61 km (1 mile) search radius based on the size of typical bear habitat in New Jersey.  These pixel-level density measures were averaged within each of the aforementioned quadrats to show a bear sighting density on a quadrat by quadrat basis.    This method used a uniformly-sized enumeration unit which can not be taken out of context, as prior studies grouped sightings by sub-county administrative units (borough, city, town, township) that range in area from .36 km2 (.14 mi2) in the Borough of Victory Gardens (Morris County) to West Milford Township (Passaic County) at 210.1 km2 (81.01mi2).




Using the Point Density function, sighting densities at the pixel level ranged from 0 in some places to 20.01 sightings per km2 (51.88 sightings per mi2).  When averaged within each quadrat, range densities at the quadrat level ranged from 0 to 13.80 sightings per km2 (35.76 sightings per mi2).  The highest densities appear in the NorthwesternPassaicCountymunicipality of West Milford Township, as well as Hamburg and VernonTownship in SussexCounty.  Other concentrations of range densities occur in Jefferson Township and Rockaway Township (Morris County), Frankfort Township, Newton, Stillwater Township and Fredon Township (Sussex County).  While containing lower densities, concentrations further south and west occur in Blairstown Township and Knowlton Township (Warren County), as well as Bethlehem Township and Glen Gardner (Hunterdon County).




These patterns were reinforced using a Getis-Ord Gi* metric, a Local Indicator of Spatial Autocorrelation (LISA).  The Getis-Ord Gi* uses a binary (1 or 0) neighborhood weight (defined by the user as adjacency or proximity d from the enumeration unit in question) to determine a weighted average of only those nearby values that satisfy the adjacency or proximity criteria.  The end result is an inferential statistic that takes this Gi* calculation and returns a z-value, indicating a statistical significance of clustering in concert with a p-value assigned to an individual enumeration unit.  The Getis-Ord Gi* is able to identify hot spots (high range density quadrats surrounded by other high range density quadrats) and cold spots, representing low range density quadrats surrounded by other low range density quadrats (Mitchell 2005).  Though not statistically significant, other concentrations were seen in NorthernHunterdonCounty (BethlehemTownship and UnionTownship) and SoutheasternMorrisCounty (HardingTownship and LongHillTownship) near the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.




It is interesting to understand why these spatial patterns occur.  The most significant clusters occurred in more mountainous areas with sparse population closer to those lakes highlighted in the results.  Proximity to parks and roadways where sightings were thought to be more prone to occur seemed to play much less of a role than previously expected.  Quantitative factors to explain bear density such as land cover classification, population, population density, elevation and proximity to landfills, roadways, and water as well as their derivations (e.g. pixel variety, slope, aspect) can be captured at the quadrat level to address why these patterns occur.  However, this analysis falls outside of the scope of this work and may be subject for future work.


Dendrogeomorphic Analysis of Debris Slides on Mount Le Conte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Description of Research




Introduction and Background:


The study of mass movements has become increasingly important in areas where development pushes into natural landscapes. Where towns and cities have grown next to unstable slopes, the need to better define the natural hazards in these areas is crucial. Tree-ring based geomorphic research (i.e. dendrogeomorphology) has become a significant part of land-use planning in areas prone to landslides, avalanches, debris flows, mudflows, and other forms of slope failure. Dendrogeomorphic research has provided information on historic mass movement events in the western United States and the mountainous regions of Europe, but only a handful of studies has been conducted in the more eroded and less prominent Appalachian Mountains of the eastern U.S. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), landslides, debris flows, and rock falls frequently disrupt transportation routes for hikers and motorists. While these natural hazards aggravate and sometimes cause harm, they also provide a prime research opportunity for land managers and scientists who seek to understand the characteristics of local mass movements. Dendrogeomorphology can discover additional landslides and debris flows no longer visually evident or not reported in historical records, and in turn aid the development of historical mass movement inventories. Debris slides are a common feature on the slopes of Mt. Le Conte and information on their dates of origin and reactivation is incomplete. A dendrogeomorphological analysis of debris slides on Mt. Le Conte can provide the missing information needed to complete the record and determine debris slide frequencies.


The Study Site


The selected study site, Le Conte 01 (LC01), was chosen because of its proximity to an area of frequent natural disturbance. Trees were sampled on or near the boundaries of a debris slide complex that consists of three slide areas that join at their base and bisect the Alum Cave Bluffs Trail at N 35.65100 W 83.44100  (approx. 1800 m elevation) about 6.5 km from the trailhead at Hwy 441. The slide head/scarp of LC01 is a crescent-shaped area of exposed Anakeesta bedrock, grasses, and mosses above the Alum Cave Bluffs Trail. The exposed surface is planar, following the dip of the bedrock, and is not hollowed out or dipped backwards due to rotation. The combination of the planar slide surface of the scarp and later funneling into a debris chute led to the use of the term “debris slide,” a hybridization of debris flow and translational landslide, in this study. Much of the Anakeesta formation bedrock on lower portions of the slide is still exposed, and regeneration of tree species, especially red spruce (Picea rubens) has been slow, most likely due to the high elevation and harsher conditions near the peak of Mt. Le Conte.




Objectives and Research Questions


For this study, dendrogeomorphic methods were used to determine the history of debris slide activations or reactivations on a slide scar of Mt. Le Conte. To first determine the influence of climate on red spruce growth and disturbance signals at the site, sampled trees were tested for climate-growth relationships. A significant climate influence at the study site (LC01) prompted additional methods to remove this influence and better isolate a debris slide signal. After the removal of trends caused by climate responses, those caused by the debris slide event were listed as a disturbance history for LC01. The following research questions guided the study:


    • Do significant climate-growth relationships exist between red spruce and climate despite the disturbed environment?


    • What are the date(s) of slide activations or reactivations at the debris slide site LC01?


    • What are the possible triggers of these debris slides?







Core samples, at least two per tree, were collected from red spruce based on proximity to the main slide area and likelihood to contain evidence in the form of growth suppressions and releases (sudden and sustained increases or decreases in growth), which was chosen as the primary indicator of events in slide perimeter trees. Core samples were taken with a 40 cm increment borer. In addition to trees sampled on or near slide scar boundaries, a control chronology was also collected from red spruce on the peak and south face of Mt. Le Conte and near to, but not affected by, the debris slide site. This control chronology will not have been affected by the slides but will have the same climate signal as the LC01 chronology. a reference chronology long enough to match that developed for LC01 and recording local climate. This control chronology was subtracted from the LC01 chronology to create a difference chronology with climate removed and aided in the isolation of debris slide events from suppression and release sequences caused by local climate.


Collected cores were sanded with a belt sander using progressively finer sandpaper, beginning with ISO P-80 grit and finishing with ISO P-400 grit to increase visibility and accuracy when measuring ring widths. Total ring widths were measured at 0.001 mm accuracy using a Velmex measuring system and MEASURE J2X software. All measured series were internally crossdated using COFECHA to properly date each series and place it in the correct temporal alignment with the other series. Final raw and standardized (using a 15 year spline) chronologies were created using the program ARSTAN. Once properly dated, series were transformed to column format using YUX software so that raw measurements could be graphed using Microsoft Excel. These graphs and the cores were scanned and compared for an initial visual assessment of suppression and release sequences. JOLTS software was used to objectively identify suppression and release sequences within each core and the combined series using a ten-year moving average to locate instances of sudden and then continued release or suppression. Years that were flagged for suppression or release patterns in greater than 10% (based on living trees sampled for that year) of trees were identified as possible dates for the LC01 debris slide event.


Climate-growth analysis was performed using instrumental climate data for monthly average temperature, total monthly precipitation, and monthly Palmer Drought Severity Index for east Tennessee, obtained from the National Climatic Data Center. I conducted split data correlation analysis and forward evolutionary analysis to determine climate-tree growth relationships and test the temporal stability of this relationship using DendroClim2002 software. The existence of significant climate influences on red spruce growth at LC01 prompted the removal of this influence to better isolate the debris slide signal, using ensemble methods: difference chronology development in OUTBREAK; comparison with local reference chronologies; comparison with local climate data; and modelling of climate using regression residuals in Excel to minimize the influence of climate on the disturbance signal and isolate growth responses in red spruce caused only by debris slide events at the study site.




Results and Discussion


Multiple significant relationships with temperature, precipitation, and PDSI (some temporally stable) were found with spruce growth. The existence of a climate signal despite disturbance justified using the ensemble methods used to better isolate a debris slide signal. Combined visual and statistical analysis of suppression and release sequences in trees provided a list of 20 possible debris slide dates, but following the removal of climate influence on disturbance signals, only three dates remained: 1909, 1952, and 1981. The 1981 event was noted during the comparison of the control and disturbed chronology but was not identified by either the visual or statistical identification of possible event dates, except when identified as a cluster of dates from 1981–1984. In addition, both the 1909 and 1981 events were found to be possibly associated with climate influences. Even though this part of the analysis was speculative, climate could not be ruled out for these two dates. Tree growth, however, is not explained by one singular climate variable, so the suppressions of 1909 and 1981 were maintained according to findings in the comparison with the control chronology. Even though climate could not be ruled out, enhanced decreases in growth in 1981, and decreases in growth in 1909 despite increases seen in LCR indicated that there was something else affecting growth. A debris slide event, even a small rock fall or reactivation, could not be ruled out for 1909 or 1981, and an identified spatial pattern in recording trees for 1981 supports this theory. The possible combination of both climate and disturbance-controlled suppression is supported for the 1952 event, which showed suppression in both the control and disturbed chronology. Decreased growth, however, was more dramatic and sustained. August precipitation and total yearly precipitation data for east Tennessee showed decreases in the 1950s which could have led to an enhancement of suppression at LC01. However, a triggering event in 1951 (an unprecedented rainfall event) is known in the historical record which confirms that the 1952 suppression was caused by a debris slide. No triggering events for the 1909 and 1981 events were identified, except a possible September 1980 thunderstorm reported in the NCDC Storm Event Database.


Constructing Place Identity: Meta-narrative Complexities of China and “The South”

Constructing Place Identity: Meta-narrative Complexities of China and “The South”




A place-based identity performs a critical role in defining and developing a particular region. This element is traditionally based in a homeland that physically, legally, socially, and emotionally imparts a sense of belonging and thus identity. The geographic space associated with a particular local, regional, state or national identity can be a shared aspirational or historical imaginary, or fit within a firm political boundary frequently delineated by its cartography. Nested signifiers for this affiliation operate on various scales that are multi-level and trans-spatial. This research explores issues involved with the social construction of place identity through time by first focusing on a case study of China, and then comparing that nation’s experiences with the notion of The New South. An extensive literature review considers patterns from the mid-19th through the early 21st century, including narratives of pre-existing cultural superiority and economic self-sufficiency, followed by military conquest and enduring notions of humiliating victimhood. Other similarities encompass internal ethnic fragmentation, political-economic resurgence, pride in cultural distinctiveness, diasporic return migration and population growth signifying an ongoing re-balancing.


Identity can function as the Heideggerian psycho-social “ground of all being” for endogenous as well as geographically dispersed groups. Identity Theory holds that humans feel a need for an identity in order to acquire a sense of belonging, maximizing their worth by association, benefitting from the communal pooling of resources, and minimizing stressful uncertainty (Kim and Dittmer 1993). This typically involves association with a group embodying a set of core sentiments and symbols to which individuals feel aligned. Identifiers can be physically visible ethnic markers of demography or clothing, or less visible as cultural practices – aspatial psycho-social imaginaries beyond and even in contrast to passport denoted state affiliations. Ethnicity in some cases is conflated with the concept of nationality as a set of distinguishing and binding group characteristics, a combination (or rejection of essentialism) of race and culture.


Cultural affinity cores can stem from spatially nested signifiers such as surname or clan; place of residence in a neighborhood, city, county or state; or span borders to link groups by religion and/or ethnicity of birth or adoption. Political states and cultural nations are thus symbiotically but not necessarily congruently associated (Kaplan 1999). Examinations of national identity within political geography consciously seek to avoid the “territorial trap” of conflating nation and state as a single political entity. However, the use of national affiliation ties to further the territorial and extra-territorial aims of a political hegemon serves as a potent tool.


            GREATER CHINA


The following examination considers elements of a Chinese identity on a macro-national scale, identity issues faced by major cultural subgroups within the contemporary political Chinese state, and transnational Chinese identity affiliations. Concluding thoughts reflect on aspatial as well as bordered “Chinese” identities. This issue is of paramount contemporary concern. As a recent study asserted, “[t]he story of China in the twenty-first century is . . . the struggle to define the idea of China” (Osnos, 2014, 8). In his several studies of Chinese identity philosopher Tu Weiming asserts that a broad base of cultural affinities characterizes residents of “Greater China”, principally consisting of the Asian mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. A globally dispersed set of overseas Chinese communities with a blended culture may constitute another core of varied but essentially related characteristics. This association rests on a dual identity base, for “(t)he meaning of being Chinese is intertwined with China as a geopolitical concept and Chinese culture as a living reality” (Tu 1994, 145).


Social networks span countries, but Chinese identity is multi-level and trans-spatial, within and outside boundaries and constructed histories. The basic constituent factor that binds or separates a “national identity” to “Chinese” lies in a felt affiliation with the culture. Problems arise when cultural/national and political boundaries lack congruence. Distinctions of scale (global, state, province, region, urban/rural) and place (where from, where to) are critical considerations affecting the degree and type of a sense of Chinese national identity. Contemporary Chinese transborder nationalism is necessarily influenced by their physical and historical “Otherness” – the inescapable difference from that of the dominant Euro-North American nation-states that dominated global power and colonized parts of China for the past two centuries, with the WWII interregnum of traditional Asian rival Japan modelling its militaristic expansion based on that of the contemporary imperialistic West. The experience of Chinese immigrants to the West since the mid-19th century was also shaped by exclusionary practices and attitudes, feeding a reactive sense of nationalism and superiority based on traditional cultural attainments as twenty-first century China developed into a power with more global stature and reach.




The evolution of “The South” as a distinct American region followed the emergende of industrialized manufacturing in the mid-19th century North. Predominance of a largely agrarian economy, lack of strong transportation ties to the rest of the U.S., and the traumatic experiences of the Civil War and Reconstruction led to formation of the South’s distinct cultural, economic, and political identity (Pillsbury 2006). While subsequent milling and mining variegated the economic landscape, the distinctive social system prevailed and contributed to a region perceived as both backward and undesirably unique.


Notions of a New South reflected the increasing urban, non-rural agriculture shift in the economic – and consequent attitudinal/cultural – character of the region post-1877. The term was popularized by Henry Grady, Atlanta-based editor of the region’s largest circulation newspaper, and reflected in C. Vann Woodward’s classic history, both of which presupposed the continuation of Caucasian control. The second period of significant change in the New South occurred as a consequence of the mid-1960s Civil Rights era and the emergence of a new set of Southern leaders bent on modernizing both the economy and the culture of the region, epitomized by the shift from Governor George Wallace (Alabama) to eventual President Jimmy Carter (Georgia).




This brief examination sought to define place identity using a national (China) and sub-national (The South) regional example. Similarities include an identified ethnicity in control (Han, Caucasian), whose power remains contested amidst a projected sharing with other regional ethnicities. Identity with a geographically affiliated distinctive culture remains strong despite location within or outside the region. Outward migration has diminished with the economic rise of the region based on a growing manufacturing and services economy that is more nationally and globally connected. A second major period of change accelerated the modernization of both: the post-Cultural Revolution transformation led by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s and the post-Civil Rights era in the South. Identifiable characteristics remain in linguistic distinctions and between demographic ethnicities in terms of education, affluence, foodways and religious affiliation among others. While there is no clean parallel between these regional examples, they illustrate the elements, complexities and enduring strength of place-based identification.




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Kaplan, eds. Nested Identities: Nationalism, Territory and Scale. Lanham, MD: Rowman


& Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999, 31-52.


Kim, Samuel and Lowell Dittmer. “Whither China’s Quest for National Identity?” In L. Dittmer


and S. Kim (237-290), China’s Quest for National Identity, Ithaca: Cornell University


Press, 1993.


Osnos, Evan. 2014. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. New


York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Pillsbury, Richard, volume editor. 2006. Volume 2: Geography. In Charles R. Wilson, general


editor, The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North


Carolina Press.


Tu, Weiming, ed. The Living Tree: The Changing Meaning of Being Chinese Today. Stanford:


Stanford University Press, 1994.


Woodward, C. Vann. 1951. The Origins of the New South. Louisiana State University Press