A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘colorado

[URBAN NOTE] Fifteen urban links

  • It has been forty years since a train derailment that threatened to unleash toxic chemicals on Mississauga resulted in a remarkably successful mass evacuation. CBC reports.
  • There is a Vimy display in Kingston’s Communications and Electronics Museum. Global News reports.
  • It is unsettling that the Ontario city of Hamilton reports such a high levels of hate crimes. CBC reports.
  • Le Devoir shares a warning that inattention to language means that Longueuil could end up becoming as English/French bilingual as the West Island.
  • VICE reports on how the dying desert town of California City is hoping for a revival based on cannabis, here</u.
  • MacLean’s tells the story about how an encounter of koi with local otters in Vancouver reflects a human culture clash, too.
  • SCMP looks at how planners want to use big data to make Shenzhen a “smart socialist” city, here.
  • CityLab hosts an article by Andrew Kenney looking at the importance of an old map of Denver for he, a newcomer to the city.
  • These photos of the recent acqua alta in Venice are heartbreaking. CityLab has them.
  • JSTOR Daily tells the story of an ill-timed parade in 1918 Philadelphia that helped the Spanish flu spread throughout the city.
  • The LRB Blog looks at a corner of Berlin marked by the history of German Southwest Africa.
  • Guardian Cities shares a remarkable ambitious plan to remake Addis Ababa into a global city.
  • Durban, in South Africa, may offer lessons for other southern African metropolises. Guardian Cities reports.
  • The NYR Daily recently took a look at what happened to so completely gentrify the West Village of New York City.
  • Feargus O’Sullivan at CityLab takes a look at a new documentary, If New York Was Called Angouleme. What if the site of New York City was colonized by the French in the early 16th century?

[LINK] “Has Aspen Become Too Popular for Its Own Good?”

Bloomberg’s Stephen Orr writes about the ways in which the mass popularity of Colorado mountain resort town Aspen has undermined many of the very qualities which made it popular in the first place. Count me as unsurprised: mass tourism inevitably undermines remote areas’ remoteness.

“What do you think of the place?” I asked the woman sitting next to me on the grandly modern outdoor staircase of the Aspen Art Museum on its opening day. I had noticed her, a stranger in a crowd of strangers, because of her quintessentially local look: an outdoorsy beauty with a clear, tan complexion, tousled sun-bleached hair, and a sensible if expensive layered outfit, one that would allow her to hike up nearby Ajax Mountain at a moment’s notice. “I love it,” she said as we listened to the angular melody of a dissonant musical performance in the foyer of the museum. “I tried to get some of my friends to come with me, but none of them would because of all the controversy—Aspen people hate new.”

They certainly appear to. In my ten years of visiting the town, I’ve often heard people grumble about the rapid pace of change in Aspen and the surrounding Roaring Fork Valley. They complain about the tide of new money that each year flows further and further downriver to towns like Basalt, Carbondale, El Jebel, and Glenwood Springs; the increasingly clogged traffic on Highway 82 (the only major road that connects the various valley communities); the swarms of private jets at the airport; the ever-climbing housing prices. Aspen, like other centers of wealth and power (the Hamptons, Napa Valley, Nantucket), fiercely resists development and does its best to stay small and quaint. Yet modern Aspen is a fairly recent invention and has always prided itself on being forward-looking.

To find the origins of the place Aspen is today, you need to go back only to the middle of the last century, when the once-tiny town of about 700 people began its greatest transformation. In the following decades, more and more people discovered this rarefied Shangri-la: The intellectuals arrived in the 1950s, the countercultural hippies in the 1960s, the ski bums in the 1970s, the celebrities in the 1980s, and the super-rich in the 1990s. Together they combined to create a sui generis culture, one defined as much by its growing wealth as by its improbability. But now, the appearance of this major new museum right in the middle of downtown is provoking a sort of identity crisis in the valley: Will Aspen’s very specialness also be its undoing?

Just 20 miles west of the Continental Divide and surrounded by high peaks on every side, Aspen’s dramatic landscape, deep winter snowfall, and isolation create one of those pockets that guidebooks grandly refer to as an “enclave.” But the settlement that first emerged in the 1880s as a silver ore boomtown was, by the 1940s when Chicago industrialists Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke first visited it, almost a ghost town. The German-American couple selected it as the setting for their Goethe Bicentennial Convocation and Music Festival, in 1949, a celebration of the humanist poet that was meant to rehabilitate Germany’s reputation in the United States after World War II. The three-week event featured an impressive lineup of intellectuals, among them Albert Schweitzer, Thornton Wilder, Stephen Spender, and Arthur Rubinstein. Concerts and lectures were held in a tented amphitheater designed by Eero Saarinen. Bauhaus artist/designer Herbert Bayer created an accompanying campus of 98 hotel rooms (now called the Aspen Meadows Resort) with modernist sculptures and early examples of sculptural earthworks. Those first seminars developed over the years into the influential Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival and School and established the town as a high-culture retreat.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 17, 2014 at 10:51 pm

[LINK] Two GNXP links on hidden ancestries

GNXP’s Razib Khan posted two links to studies of isolated populations with claims to unexpected ethnic origins some time ago. The first determined that two Hispanic populations which lay claim to Jewish ancestry, one in Ecuador and one in the American state of Colorado, actually did show evidence of Jewish ancestry.

Modern day Latin America resulted from the encounter of Europeans with the indigenous peoples of the Americas in 1492, followed by waves of migration from Europe and Africa. As a result, the genomic structure of present day Latin Americans was determined both by the genetic structure of the founding populations and the numbers of migrants from these different populations. Here, we analyzed DNA collected from two well-established communities in Colorado (33 unrelated individuals) and Ecuador (20 unrelated individuals) with a measurable prevalence of the BRCA1 c.185delAG and the GHR c.E180 mutations, respectively, using Affymetrix Genome-wide Human SNP 6.0 arrays to identify their ancestry. These mutations are thought to have been brought to these communities by Sephardic Jewish progenitors. Principal component analysis and clustering methods were employed to determine the genome-wide patterns of continental ancestry within both populations using single nucleotide polymorphisms, complemented by determination of Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA haplotypes. When examining the presumed European component of these two communities, we demonstrate enrichment for Sephardic Jewish ancestry not only for these mutations, but also for other segments as well. Although comparison of both groups to a reference Hispanic/Latino population of Mexicans demonstrated proximity and similarity to other modern day communities derived from a European and Native American two-way admixture, identity-by-descent and Y-chromosome mapping demonstrated signatures of Sephardim in both communities. These findings are consistent with historical accounts of Jewish migration from the realms that comprise modern Spain and Portugal during the Age of Discovery. More importantly, they provide a rationale for the occurrence of mutations typically associated with the Jewish Diaspora in Latin American communities.

The second focused on the Melungeons, a population group in Appalachia that most recently has laid claim to Turkish or Middle Eastern ancestry. A study of select families indicates that, in fact, the non-white ancestry in question was sub-Saharan Africa, perhaps the consequence of interracial marriage and relationships in the very early period of American settlement.

The Melungeons were a group of individuals found primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties of Tennessee and in the far southern portion of Lee County, Virginia which borders Hawkins and Hancock counties in Tennessee. At one time isolated geographically on and near Newman’s Ridge and socially due to their dark countenance, they were known to their neighbors as Melungeons, a term applied as an epithet or in a pejorative manner.

As the stigma of a mixed racial heritage dimmed in the late 20th century and was replaced by a sense of pride, interest in the genealogy and history of the Melungeon people was born. With the advent of the internet and popular press, the story of these people has become larger than life, with their ancestors being attributed to a myriad of exotic sources: Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony, Ottoman Turks, The Lost Tribes of Israel, Jews, Gypsies, descendants of Prince Madoc of Wales, Indians, escaped slaves, Portuguese, Sir Francis Drake’s rescued Caribbean Indians and Moorish slaves, Juan Pardo’s expedition, De Soto’s expedition, abandoned pirates and Black Dutch, among others. Melungeon families themselves claimed to be Indian, white and Portuguese.

Furthermore, as having Melungeon heritage became desirable and exotic, the range of where these people were reportedly found has expanded to include nearly every state south of New England and east of the Mississippi, and in the words of Dr. Virginia DeMarce, Melungeon history has been erroneously expanded to provide “an exotic ancestry…that sweeps in virtually every olive, ruddy and brown-tinged ethnicity known or alleged to have appeared anywhere in the pre-Civil War Southeastern United States.”

Given the racial hierarchies of the early 21st century world, it’s probably not surprising that Jewish ancestry among these two Hispanic groups is now held as a source of pride–I’ve read anecdotal reports of many of the American Hispanics converting to Judaism–while the African ancestry is a matter of controversy. (One commenter at the second GNXP post almost seems to imply that there couldn’t be any African ancestry among Mulungeons generally since the women were so pretty. Am I reading this wrong, please?)

Written by Randy McDonald

June 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm