A Piece Of The Past, A Price In The Present: Paying For The Erie Canal

A Piece Of The Past, A Price In The Present: Paying For The Erie Canal

Business is growing for the New York State Marine Highway Transportation Company, according to co-founder Rob Goldman. His crew has found steady work towing barges of stone and sometimes oversized cargo like fighter planes along an expanded Erie Canal, also known as the New York State Barge Canal, that was completed in 1918.

“Let’s face it: a barge can’t deliver to your front door. A truck can,” Goldman admits. “But if we work with the trucks and we work with the rail, we can each be as efficient as possible and use as little fuel as possible because we’re efficient.”

New York’s entire canal system, including the Erie Canal, had revenues of $1.5 million in 2014 against $55 million to operate and maintain itself.

From Hansi Lo Wang/NPR.

With New York State License, 1/3 Of U.S. K-12 Students Has ArcGIS Access

Esri School District and Statewide K-12 Licenses

Esri further expands access to its ArcGIS software with the addition of a statewide license for New York and its 2.7 million K-12 students.

Now, about a third of all American K-12 students has access to ArcGIS. Amazing. This is definitely one way to increase teaching and learning geography in schools. The map above shows other states and school districts that have K-12 ArcGIS licenses.

[image via Esri]

What Happens When We Lose A Video Store?

Blockbuster Video Store Closing

I just read an article on Indiewire titled “What We Lose When We Lose Video Stores” that was republished from Hammer to Nail about the closing of the neighborhood video store Reel Life in Brooklyn, and an interview by Alex Ross Perry with Reel Life store owner Joe Martin.

There have been plenty of articles recently that chronicled the falls of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, but this time feels different. Instead of reading mostly about the might of big box stores on small mom and pops, this article highlights the positive effects that passionate business owners and passionate people can have on their neighborhoods.

You can head over the article to read it in full, but here are some interesting takeaways (including a bit about video collectors, which I myself actually was one):

– Economics of video stores
– Death of collector’s editions of videos and DVDs
– Loss of local film expertise and strong likelihood that hard-to-find titles WILL ONLY be found online
– Loss of video stores means yet another lost opportunity at human interaction (i.e., neighborhood space)
– Relationship between independent cinema and video stores

I leave with this standout quote: “I don’t want to consider a future populated by people who grew up without nice places to go and explore their developing interests with a stranger whose opinion they trust.”

Director Michel Gondry addressed this inevitability in his 2008 film Be Kind Rewind with Jack Black and Mos Def. It’s worth watching.

So to summarize: there are less local bookstores, there are less local video stores. What will fill our neighborhoods? There are only so many bars, restaurants, and art studios…

[image via Ocala (Florida) Photos]

Texas Leads The Way Toward 45.8M Americans Being On Food Stamps

Vintage U.S. Food Stamps
Vintage U.S. Food Stamps

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or formerly Food Stamp Program, has figures from May 2011. They are not pretty.

In May 2011, there were 45,753,078 participants in the United States.[1. As of August 1, 2011.] That’s an increase of 2.5 percent from April 2011 (44,647,861) and an increase of 12.1 percent from May 2010 (40,801,591).

Which states has the most participants?

1. Texas – 3,954,852
2. California – 3,727,005
3. New York – 3,019,981
4. Michigan – 1,926,072
5. Georgia – 1,794,537

It is worth pointing out that Texas has the highest total number of participants despite having over 12.1M fewer residents (total: 25,145,561) than the most populous state–California (37,253,956).[2. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census.] Approximately 15.7 percent of all Texas residents are on food stamps; approximately 10 percent of Californians are on food stamps. (It would interesting to see the percentages for the other 48 states.)

One puzzling figure from the May 2011 statistics: 6th ranked Alabama saw its number of SNAP participants double in just one month–1,762,481 from 868,813 in April 2011.

Note: April 2011 statistics are preliminary, and May 2011 statistics are initial (estimates).

[photo via NCReedplayer]