Following Up: An August 2011 Update on Previous Articles

Just a few mini-updates and additional tidbits on some topics from previous articles here at The Basement Geographer:

Semi-Abandoned Prairie Town or Detroit? (originally posted 30 July 2010): The very first article on this site was about the increasingly vacant landscape of the city of Detroit; a topic also brought up this week at World Geography Blog. With the massive amount of green space available, some local community groups and residents had taken to planting some of the vacant land for use as community gardens. Fast forward to this Monday’s Detroit Free Press, where an article popped up about an ever larger operation that will turn 1.4 ha (3.5 acres) of land into a commercial tree farm. The plot in east Detroit will be planted with about 1 000 oak saplings, and the company also has plans for operating vegetable and fruit farms. There could be consequences, however; some fear that this could set a precedent for commercial interests grabbing land in the city and/or selling produce back to locals at expensive prices (despite a population of 900 000, Detroit currently has few-to-no supermarkets within its city limits). And some wonder whether there would actually be a market for the farmed trees. But this proposal does signify the continued interest in renewing vacant land in Detroit for agricultural purposes.

The N.F.-Board and the ‘Other’ World Cup: Gaining National Legitimacy via Sport (originally posted 5 August 2010): The governing body of football for unrecognised and dependent states not affiliated to FIFA gained a 34th member in April when the Scanian Football Federation was admitted to the board. The team representing extreme southern Sweden should be present as playdowns for the 2012 VIVA World Cup begin this autumn, with the finals to be held in Iraqi Kurdistan. Sadly, the N.F.-Board official website remains un-updated.

Lake Peigneur: Lousiana’s Original Drilling Disaster (originally posted 9 August 2010): While a fair bit of the salt dome beneath Lake Peigneur was filled in by incoming saltwater in the aftermath of the 1980 disaster, you may remember that the remaining salt dome is used as a storehouse for pressurised natural gas despite local opposition. That opposition made itself known last week at a public hearing on the proposed use of the salt dome for two separate caverns in which to store gas. The concerns lie over the proposal’s plan to use water from the underlying Chicot Aquifer to construct the caverns. Aquifer water would be used to leach out salt from the dome. The amount of water used, however, would be rather large: 3 million US gallons per day for three straight years. As Chicot water is the main domestic water source for south-central Louisiana, there are worries this may adversely affect the water supply for thousands of Louisianans and/or possibly contaminate the aquifer if something were to go wrong. Advocates state that this number, however, is a mere fraction of the 660 million-to-1 billion gallons currently removed from Chicot every day.

The Barassi Line (originally posted 30 August 2010): More attempts to blur the geographic divide that traditionally separates the Australian fan bases of Australian and rugby football codes were undertaken this year. The Australian Football League added another franchise in unfamiliar territory in 2011 with the introduction of the Gold Coast Suns to Queensland’s second –largest city. While the membership base is easily the smallest in the AFL, the Suns initially seem to be performing well attendance-wise in comparison with the National Rugby League’s Gold Coast Titans, who themselves are only in their fifth season. Next year, the AFL will add a club from Western Sydney, the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Meanwhile, rugby union’s top league in the Southern Hemisphere, Super Rugby, added a club beyond the Barassi Line this year, the Melbourne Rebels, giving the tournament five teams in each of the three constituent countries (Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand). The Rebels are the first privately-owned professional rugby union club in Australia. The Rebels finished last in their first competition.

Qat: The Stimulant of Choice in the Horn of Africa and Yemen (originally posted 13 September 2010): Qat has tangentially entered the news in recent months as a sidenote to continued widespread protests in Yemen. Specifically related to qat, one person was killed this week by security forces during protests in Sayoun; the protests were against government officials that had been importing qat from northern Yemen rather than importing necessities such as fuel and food. Over in the Netherlands, a Christian Democrat member of parliament has advocated for a ban of the importation of qat based upon both the addictive nature of the plant and because ‘the profits from the qat trade end up in the pockets of terrorist organisations’. The MP expects support for the legislation from other conservative and Christian parties.

Burned by the Torch: Cities with Multiple Failed Olympic Bids (originally posted 23 December 2010): Pyeongchang, South Korea did indeed finally put in a winning bid for the Winter Olympics as it was awarded the 2018 Winter Games last month, beating out competing bids from Munich and from Annecy, France (Munich was attempting to become the first city to host both Summer and Winter editions of the Olympics). The Pyeongchang Olympics are expected to create a US$8.4 billion building boom, including $3.7 billion on a high speed rail line connecting the winter resort to the city of Wonju. It is hoped that the facilities constructed for the games will continued to be used by an expected influx of Chinese tourists in the years afterward.

Google Sightseeing: Roadside Mascots of Manitoba (originally posted 25 January 2011): One of the mascots captured in this Google Sightseeing tour was Happy Rock, the town of Gladstone, Manitoba’s official mascot (after all, a ‘glad stone’ is a ‘happy rock’). The iconic visage of the tuxedo-and-top-hat-clad Happy Rock statue that greets visitors to town was honoured recently on a Canada Post stamp as part of a three-year series on famous Canadian roadside attractions. Also honoured were Davidson, Saskatchewan’s world’s largest coffee-pot-and-cup; Wawa, Ontario’s goose; and Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec’s giant puffin.

Further Reading

Buck, R. (2011). Delray and Southwest Detroit. World Geography Blog, 8 August 2011. Available at Accessed 10 August 2011.

Davis, G. (2011). Gold Coast Suns ahead of Gold Coast Titans in early battle for hearts of locals as AFL-NRL war rages. Fox Sports Australia, 28 June 2011. Available at Accessed 10 August 2011.

Gallagher, J. (2011). Commercial farming to start in Detroit with 1,000 trees. Detroit Free Press, 8 August 2011. Available at Accessed 10 August 2011.

Kim, R. and Park K.H. (2011). South Korea’s $3.7B Olympic boom to spur construction. Vancouver Sun, 20 July 2011. Available at Accessed 11 August 2011.

McElfresh, A. (2011). Teen’s letter: ‘This water is our life’. Lafayette Daily Advertiser, 5 August 2011. Available at Accessed 10 August 2011.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide (2011). Dutch MP wants ban on qat. 3 August 2011. Available at Accessed 10 August 2011.

Westport News (2011). Expanded use of Lake Peigneur decried. Westport News, 5 August 2011. Available at Accessed 10 August 2011.

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