There is no escaping the economic, social and physical importance of human settlement patterns.

Larry Gross has it ‘almost’ right concerning human settlement patterns in his comment following A & A HOUSING. He just has the alligator and the mosquitos mixed up.

It is human settlement pattern that is the ALLIGATOR.

Economic Prosperity (including the type and location of Jobs), Social Stability and Physical (environmental) Sustainability are more than just MOSQUITOES but they are determined and controlled by human settlement patterns.

Sorry Larry, the cumulative impact of 12.5 Percenter decisions cannot be papered over with cute analogies.

For a refresher on reality check out Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. McKibben presents a profoundly important but partially flawed and a little out of date perspective on the trajectory of civilization. More on both the good and the bad of this important book soon.


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17 responses to “A & M SETTLEMENT PATTERNS”

  1. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    One of the interesting things about derelict towns in Georgia was the commonality of their settlement patterns.

    In many, many of these towns there was train track down the middle of main street with a street on either side of the rail and then the towns commercial buildings… hardware stores, restaurants, drug stores, etc…. and usually at one end or the other end of the town …warehouses and loading docks.

    The trains were not only how commerce was done..but they were also handy for getting to the next town… or even to the bigger towns and cities where regional medical centers and that sort of thing could be accessed.

    Back then – and even now – travel by road is an arduous process… there is still a lot of this land that has not been “interstatized” and probably never will be.

    The trains still run through many of those towns but there is no longer a reason to stop.

    The furniture factory or apparel plant closed.. and the towns pretty much shriveled up… maybe one decrepit store out of ten still open and open almost as an act of defiance to the unfair fortunes.

    And these towns are not unlike a military base that closes down and literally sucks the life out of the town outside it’s gates….

    Or Chrysler shuttered a plant that has 5000 workers and the nearby town… goes on life support.

    The point here is that …good, bad or indifferent… if the jobs goes away… the settlement pattern left behind is … if not irrelevant certainly an artifact…..

    no dogma about 12%ers will alter some of these simple realities…

    EMR himself says that a balanced community has to have the correct mixture of j/s/r/etc… but he pretty much assumes that the jobs will be there and that the problem to be solved is how to arrange the settlement pattern for optimal efficiency – so folks can get to/from those jobs without using those danged evil large personal vehicles…..

    My question… what happens when the jobs go away ?

    or is EMR asserting that ..somehow the settlement pattern itself will bring and keep the jobs if it is the “correct” pattern.???

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    “no dogma about 12%ers will alter some of these simple realities… “

    I think we all know that EMR has a problem with reality.


  3. Anonymous Avatar

    “My question… what happens when the jobs go away ?

    or is EMR asserting that ..somehow the settlement pattern itself will bring and keep the jobs if it is the “correct” pattern.???”

    Yes, my question exactly. I suspect EMR has it backwards. “Efficient” settlement patterns depend first of all on “efficient” job distribution.


  4. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    I think it is time to ask EMR about those jobs.

    Do the functional settlement patterns go where the jobs are or do the jobs come to the functional settlement patterns?

    no high-minded riddles about the 12%ers… just some plain answers please.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    I suspect it is some of both. A place like Warrenton creates a certan number of its own jobs, but as a whole it stilll relies on money from commuters to other places.


  6. Groveton Avatar

    Mosquitoes have carried millions of times more death to humanity than alligators. So, I agree. Job loss represents mosquitioes and human settlement patterns represent alligators.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    “In much of America, conspicuous conservation is the new conspicuous consumption. “

    From Freakonomics.


    Off topic, but I thought this was a fabulous observation. If I had to tie it in I’d point out that the problem with EMR’s theories is that there is no economic way to implement them. It is as if no expense would be too gteat to bear as long as it saves empty land from scattered development.


  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Re Ray’s point about outlying areas relying on Metro Area jobs.

    Commuters No More
    Luray Area Struggles As Far-Flung Jobs, And Hopes, Wane

    By Chris L. Jenkins
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, May 4, 2009

    LURAY, Va. Steve Morgan fired up the weed whacker and flicked away a morning cigarette.

    “I should be in the middle of a workday right now,” he said, starting in on a patch of weeds at the base of his acre property. Later, he would mow the lawn and muse about the Chinese garden he’d like to put out back one day. “I figure I’ll put up a stone wall on the back there when I can afford it, maybe make a little stone path leading to the creek, there.”

    Morgan is not used to this kind of morning routine. For about five years, he started his day at 2:30 a.m. preparing to drive to his warehouse job in Manassas. He traveled 60 miles each way, every day, for the job that paid $17 an hour. The job helped him buy this plot of land, his first, so he never complained about the pre-dawn drive there or the bumper-to-bumper drive back home.

    But that job is gone now. It evaporated in the sputtering Northern Virginia economy. So Morgan, along with many others in Luray and surrounding Page County — where unemployment recently was as high as 17.7 percent — spend their days picking through the scant job listings, tending to daytime chores or hunting for day laborer work.

    Morgan, 49, is one of hundreds of workers in Page (population 24,000) who for years counted on Virginia’s Washington suburbs and the region’s roaring economy for their livelihoods. They came for skilled-labor jobs — many were carpenters and plumbers — and the need for their labor seemed endless. The jobs were sometimes as far as 90 miles away and required a two-hour commute each way. But their wages were higher than most anything they would find in Page, where 60 percent of the workforce has to travel outside the county for work. Those far-flung jobs helped buy homes and property and cover college tuitions.

    When times were good, these workers were a symbol of the lengths many would go to take advantage of the benefits of job-rich Northern Virginia. When factory employment in Luray and other well-paying jobs started to dry up, many looked north for work and others went south to Harrisonburg.

    Now, many of these workers are an example of the ripple effect the Washington region’s economic downturn is having on points south and west.

    “People saw you as lucky if you had a job in Northern Virginia, because after plants closed around here, there was hardly any good work,” said Florhline Painter, executive director of the Work Force Job Center in downtown Luray, about 90 miles southwest of Washington. “You’ve got people now who were making $45,000 a year now looking for minimum-wage jobs, and that’s the only income coming in. The good jobs just aren’t here.”

    Some Northern Virginia job counselors have reported seeing desperate laid-off workers from as far away as southwest Virginia and North Carolina moving to the region looking for jobs, only to find that work isn’t as plentiful as they had expected.

    Indeed, in February the number of jobs in Northern Virginia decreased by 13,600, or 1.1 percent, over last year. The biggest losses were in construction, down 10.6 percent and trade and transportation jobs, down 2.6 percent. In addition, both the Winchester and Harrisonburg areas, where many Page residents have also traditionally gone for jobs, saw job decreases of 2.8 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, during that same period.

    The upshot is that the economic situation is dire for many residents of this struggling county. Requests for help from social service agencies are up. Attendance for job retraining classes is up. The same is true for classes offering training for commercial driver’s licenses and the high school equivalency exam.

    “Been here 30 years and never seen it like this, even when we were losing jobs back in 2002 and 2003,” said Painter, who suspects that the unemployment rate was closer to 22 percent at its height over the winter.

    Ricky Lucas, 49, a carpenter who worked on commercial and residential properties, had been traveling to Northern Virginia for more than 20 years. He was never out of work more than two months during that time. He had a four-hour daily commute, but he was making $26.87 an hour, and with overtime he could bring home more than $50,000 a year.

    “You felt as if you’d always have a good job, because no one ever thought jobs in Northern Virginia would dry up,” he said.

    Now he’s been unemployed 10 months and is close to exhausting his $376 a week in unemployment insurance — and the extension granted by the government. Still, like many of those interviewed, Lucas said he has refused all government assistance except for joblessness benefits — no food stamps, no welfare, no Medicaid for him, his wife and his teenage son at home. “I just wouldn’t feel right,” he said. “There are people out there who need it more than me.”

    Sporting black sweats and a graying five o’clock shadow one day recently, Lucas stopped at a job center looking for openings. He thought he had scored some work helping a neighbor do some work on his house, but that won’t pay the bills for long, nor quell the anxiety. What frustrates him even more is that “it feels like there’s work out there. But companies are just playing it safe. They don’t want to hire, don’t want to take a risk,” he said. “There’s work to be done, but I can’t get to it.”

    As for Morgan, he waits, putting in résumés, calling companies, hoping for calls back. He’s new to this unemployment routine; he lost his job in late March. But he feels as if the walls are closing in on him already.

    After 20 minutes of slicing through weeds, Morgan stepped away from the whacker. He seemed lost. He headed into his work shed, an organized clutter of power saws, stray tools, fishing rods and coffee canisters filled with nails, screws and bolts. He took out a beer and looked around. “Plenty of things I could do in here, I guess,” he said. But his wife was set to leave for work in a few hours, so he figured he would spend some time with her, get to the chores later.

    “Well, I guess I’ll go in and talk to wifey,” he said. “She’s not used to me being at home this time of day.”


  9. Accurate Avatar

    I’ve slowed down my visits to this blog, mostly because the number of postings by EMR have increased. I’ve already discussed how I disagree with him. However, I have a wrinkle to put into this posting.

    I lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest for over 50 years (the Portland area mostly). This area of the country has been HARD hit by this recession, in large part (in my opinion) due to some very bad policies that were made to ‘be green’ to have ‘smart growth’, an ‘urban boundary’, etc. All policies that I took issue with but they got passed none the less (like I could stop them).

    So when I got laid off my construction inspector job in January, my wife said, “You know there are no jobs around here, we need to go to where the jobs are.” I did some research and found that the Pacific Northwest wasn’t offering much, California is more expensive to live in (and they are issuing IOU’s for tax refunds), didn’t sound like a place that I wanted to go. In the end, Texas and other southern states appeared to hold the best bet.

    We sold everything and moved in with a nephew and my daughter in Texas (two different residences in two different cities). I bookmarked over 350 cities in 8 states and checked each city website at least once a week looking for positions that I could qualify for. In the end I ended up putting in over 55 applications and had 8 interviews and I finally got hired today.

    The job is in Houston at $2.50 an hour more than I was making in the Portland area. The living is cheaper, there is no state income tax, I can get a nice house for $100K.

    Bottom line, you go where the jobs are, regardless of environment or most other considerations. If you can’t make a living, everything else is secondary.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Good comment.

    Yesterday I had a long session with the intuit Help Desk, with a gentleman named Pradeep, located in New Delhi.

    With infinite patience, and working blind, he walked me through a complicated repair procedure, using an international version of ‘Twenty Questions”.

    I’d hate to think I would have to go to New Delhi to find a job exported from the US.

    I wonder what teh human settlement pattern is like in New Delhi?


  11. Anonymous Avatar

    “You need 40,000 acres of wind farm to replace 1 single natural gas power plant, so multiple 40,000 by thousands and you will see how much land is needed. Basically there will be no more “countryside”, just cities and wind farms.”

    Anonymous, Posted in Environmental Capital


  12. Anonymous Avatar

    More on thermodynamics and economics:

    “Over the past 30 years, physicists have developed methods for calculating the properties of what they call disordered systems, which have a range of linked components. Adapting these techniques to markets, statistical physicist Matteo Marsili of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, showed recently that the proliferation of derivatives inevitably produces an unstable market—a finding that traditional economists have acknowledged only in hindsight.”

    “Other economists are finally beginning to acknowledge that basic notions such as equilibrium—an idea originally imported into economics from 19th-century physics—aren’t adequate to understanding complex markets.”

    The properties of disordered systems depend largely on thermodynamics. Market equilibrium also assumes market efficiency, and efficiency is not alwys a feature of complex, disordered systems.

    Like human settlement patterns.


  13. Anonymous Avatar

    What has happened to nespapers appears to be starting to happen to colleges, as well.



    “Reached on the phone, Richard A. Hanson isn’t quite sure he’s ready to give an interview about this week’s sale of Waldorf College. The college’s president has talked quite a bit locally, trying to assure students, professors and the residents of Forest City, Iowa, that selling the liberal arts institution to a for-profit, online university is the best (in fact, only) option.

    What persuaded Hanson to talk about what’s happening at Waldorf is the question of whether he thinks other colleges will soon be facing the same choice. “You are going to be seeing a lot more of this from colleges like us,” he said.”

  14. Groveton Avatar

    Accurate –

    Congratulations on landing the new job. I hope you’ll still have time to read and post on this blog. There are a number of Houston “zoning law” devotees on BaconsRebellion and it would be nice to hear from someone who actually lives in that city!

  15. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    I agree.. I’d like to hear some first-hand comments about how Houston “works” when it comes to land-use and planning.

  16. Accurate Avatar

    Thanks for the congrats on the new job. I too am looking forward to it. Portland is the poster child for heavy handed land use laws. The government has a horrible case of ‘misson creep’. As a resident of the Portland Metro area, who disagreed with most of the land use laws; I’d always heard about Houston where those laws were at the opposite end of the scale. I look forward to my new home.

    Obviously my views will come with my bias, just as EMR’s observations come through his bias. I will continue to read this blog and again, thanks for the congrats. It’s tough to find a job out there, I have several friends in the construction inspection field who are out of jobs.

  17. britney Avatar

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