November 13-19, 2011 is the 25th annual Geography Awareness Week. This year’s theme is: Geography: The Adventure in Your Community. In honor of this year’s theme, I present five essential ways to help you enjoy the adventure that exists in your community:
- One of the best ways to explore your community is through the sport of geocaching, which is made possible through the omnipresence of GPS (including GPS-enabled smartphones and the like).
- Google Earth is an amazing piece of software that enables you to explore your community from the air. The layers of user-contributed data, such as photos and videos, add to the adventure and enable one to visit anywhere virtually. I traveled to Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia last summer and through my online explorations, by the time I arrived I felt like I had a great sense of the geography of the city. Less full-featured than Google Earth is of course Google Maps, which is also incredible.
- As you explore your community, consider it through the lens established by geography William D. Pattison and known as the four traditions of geography. These four traditions provide a variety of viewpoints from which to explore your community.
- While the global population is now likely over seven billion, our communities are comprised of much smaller and more understandable population figures. For instance, how does your community measure up to the data from If The World Were a Village of 100 People?
- An often underestimated aspect of geography is the realm of physical geography. Don’t neglect this topic when studying your own community. What types of soils, rocks, hazards, microclimates, water bodies exist in your community? Explore them!
Finally, even through the theme of this year’s Geography Awareness Week is focused on our communities, don’t forget that the entire planet earth is our community. Learn some basic earth facts and then learn some place names on our planet, starting with all of the countries of the world. Good luck and happy Geography Awareness Week!
Matt Rosenberg, About.com