Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Great Lakes Pittsburgh

As posted at Convergence, the Brookings Institution has released the report on revitalizing the economy in the Rust Belt. The region is broadly defined, save including Canada, which presents a data mismatch (at least that is the rationale offered). I support the expanded conceptualization of the mega-region:

The Great Lakes region of the United States is a unique economic, social, and cultural area made up of all or part of 12 states, including the western portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; northern Kentucky; all of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin; and eastern Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Home to 97 million people, this region is defined by a shared geography and natural resources, a dynamic political and economic history, and strong principles of social organization that together have shaped its growth and development. One of the largest industrial production centers and consumer marketplaces in the world, this highly urbanized “mega-region” is a vital global hub of economic activity and growth.

The report buys into the understanding of 10 mega-regions in the United States. The Great Lakes area is culturally Midwest with economic activity along the corridors of I-70 and I-80. The Brookings report indicates that a transmegapolitan identity could be cultivated thanks to a shared geography.

Lagging behind the apparent economic integration and cultural affinity is the political infrastructure. Brookings is calling for political cooperation among the many regions with ties to the Great Lakes. I'm not optimistic that the interregional cooperation is forthcoming given the lack of intraregional consolidation in the Rust Belt. "Merely" coordinating the large number of political entities of Allegheny County looks like mission impossible.


Tom said...

Jim - We'd better watch our mutual admiration society...people might start getting ideas about our blogs!

Seriously, you have a GREAT blog on your hands. Burgh Diaspora offers a serious look at some of the "big picture" issues related to the long-term growth and health of your fine community. If only other communities had this type of resource.

In reading your "Great Lakes Pittsburgh" posting, I immediately was reminded of a now out-of-print book, "The Nine Nations of North America" by Joel Garreau. (Looks from my link that I'm going to break your bank!) This 1989 book was one of the first socio-cultural books that I ever read and went a long way toward shaping my opinions.

It's a bit dated now, but Garreau does a wonderful job defining the cultural boundaries of our country. You'll see that the Brookings Institution's definition of the Great Lakes Region really follows a common sense that Garreau used over 15 years ago.

Enjoy! And good work. But what about the Steelers?

- Tom

Jim Russell said...

Thanks for the tip about the Garreau book. I think I've seen his cultural map in a geography textbook or perhaps I ran across it in a geography lecture about regions.

I greatly appreciate your support and positive feedback about the blog. I'm always in the market for content sources and your blog has been a boon to my productivity.

And about the Steelers... I won't give up on them, but the playoff prospects are dire at best. There is a reason some folks think that NFL stands for "not for long." The time on top was all too brief.