This Week in Geographic History, January 9 – 15

Here’s an advance look at some of the “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events coming up this week. For each date, we’ve matched it with a map or visual, background information, and a classroom activity so you can plan ahead. Tuesday, January 10 TDIGH: London Underground Opens The London Underground opened in 1863, making it the oldest underground railway in the world. Map: London … Continue reading This Week in Geographic History, January 9 – 15

Columbus’ Lost Ship May Have Been Found

SCIENCE More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeologists think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains—lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries. (The Independent) Use our resources to learn more about shipwrecks and underwater archaeology. … Continue reading Columbus’ Lost Ship May Have Been Found

Five For Friday: Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Corporate Social Responsibility.” “Creating Shared Value.” “Triple Bottom Line.” While these terms vary slightly in meaning, they all describe philosophies of market-based business aiming to be… good. Good to people, good to the planet, good to their shareholders. The goal of this article is to introduce you to some examples of social entrepreneurship, and demonstrate why it’s important, geographically speaking.
First though, I would caution everybody that we have to think critically about companies that claim interest in the common good. Philanthropy and token environmentalism (greenwashing) are constantly being exaggerated by companies that want the added social value of being seen as “green” and “socially responsible.” The best educators in this department have been the Yes Men, a group of social satirists who expose corporate hypocrisy by imitating companies. One hilarious example is this presentation about recycling human waste into McDonald’s hamburgers (great video for mature kids and adults who aren’t currently eating a meal).
Our first two examples are about real initiatives to recycle human waste. Unlike the Yes Men’s satire, these programs present real solutions to social and environmental problems. I grew up with composting toilets and outhouses, so for me it’s normal to talk about human waste. But, if it grosses you out too much, go ahead and skip to number three.
1.   Sub-Saharan Africa: In Kumasi, Ghana, Ashley Murray and her company Waste Enterprisers turn wastewater treatment ponds into fish farms. The waste is full of nutrients, so the fish don’t need any additional food. They filter the water and grow bigger until employees harvest them to sell in local fish markets. Murray’s company is currently piloting many more ideas of how to re-use waste. Right now, it relies on grants, but it’s not a non-profit. Someday, it hopes to be not only self-sufficient, but also profitable.

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Weekly Reminder of Why I Come to Work Every Day

I began a new year of work Monday with a computer that I could not log into and a phone line that went straight to voicemail and would not receive incoming calls. A frustrating way to kick off 2011, no doubt, but in a large organization, I suppose you are bound to have the occasional hardware malfunction. And so I tried to make lemonade out of lemons, spending a good portion of the day getting around to those crucial tasks I never seem to find time for: cleaning up my workspace, sorting through old files, reading bygone reports, etc. It turned out to be a very productive day; I was pleased with my own patience and adaptability. And it sure was nice to arrive to a sparkling office Tuesday morning.

When I logged onto my computer (already off to a blazing start compared with the previous day), I encountered this story on the Insider, National Geographic’s intranet portal:

NG [Nat Geo] Maps Travel to Haiti

The brief article read:

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Five for Friday: Recap of April

In the month of April, there were several events that captured the world’s attention. Here are a few small glimpses that you might remember.  Iceland:The recent eruption of the Eyjafallajokull volcano in Iceland proved, once again, that nature can have powerful impacts on the day-to-day lives of people around the world. The eruption delayed weddings, business arrangements, and travel plans of thousands of people from … Continue reading Five for Friday: Recap of April