Redefining 'Niners': Football on The Great Plains

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At 0.5 people per square mile, Harding County, South Dakota is one of the least populated places in the nation. The county’s only high school, located in Buffalo, is small by even small-town standards, with 85 students in grades 9-12. However, few schools can match its gridiron success. Nicknamed after the primary industry in the region, “The Ranchers” football team has experienced only one losing season in its 44-year history.

Harding County’s teenage boys suit up every Friday night and dominate 9-man football.

Nine-man football is a small-town sport. Unique to three upper Great Plains states (South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota), it was designed  read more »

Shifting Religious Climate


While the new Memphis Islamic Center in Cordova, TN awaits completion, members meet at a nearby church building that houses Cordova’s Heart Song Church. The Christian congregation has opened its doors to the Muslim community as a gesture of good will.

This kind act is in contrast with other recent activities, like an August arson fire to an Islamic Center’s construction equipment in suburban Murfreesboro just south of Nashville. And to complicate things even more, there’s that tiny little church that had planned to burn the Qur’an on September 11th. While all of this is going on, there is of course the ongoing debate surrounding plans to build a mosque near ground zero.  read more »

Portland Metro's Competitiveness Problem


Portland Metro's president, David Bragdon, recently resigned to take a position with New York’s Bloomberg administration. Bragdon was nearing the end of his second elected term and ineligible for another term. Metro is the three county (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties) planning agency that oversees Portland's land use planning and transportation policies, among the most stringent and pro-transit in the nation.  read more »

The New World Order


Tribal ties—race, ethnicity, and religion—are becoming more important than borders.

For centuries we have used maps to delineate borders that have been defined by politics. But it may be time to chuck many of our notions about how humanity organizes itself. Across the world a resurgence of tribal ties is creating more complex global alliances. Where once diplomacy defined borders, now history, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture are dividing humanity into dynamic new groupings.  read more »

China Development: Go West, Young Comrade


Deng Xiaoping, the pragmatic leader who orchestrated China’s ‘reform and opening-up’ 30 years ago, once said that “some areas must get rich before others.” Deng was alluding to his notion that, due to the country’s massive scale, economic development could not happen all at once across China. Planning and implementation of such an economy would take years, even decades, and some areas would inevitably be developed before others.  read more »

Latino Dems Should Rethink Loyalty


Given the awful state of the economy, it’s no surprise that Democrats are losing some support among Latinos. But they can still consider the ethnic group to be in their pocket. Though Latinos have not displayed the lock-step party loyalty of African-Americans, they still favor President Barack Obama by 57 percent, according to one Gallup Poll — down just 10 percentage points from his high number early in the administration.  read more »

Why We Have to Learn to Love the Subdivision – Again


When did anyone last hear officials and professionals talking enthusiastically about the social and economic benefits resulting from the subdivision of land to create secure, clean and tradable title?  read more »

Suburbia Evolved: Glendale Then and Now


The classic picture of suburbia is that of white picket fences, the family Chevy in the driveway, and Mom in an apron beckoning her children to abandon the baseball and glove for a home-cooked dinner. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this picture, per se. Nothing wrong except for the fact that it is now becoming more of the exception than the rule among American suburban communities, memorialized best in cultural artifacts like reruns of "Leave It to Beaver."  read more »

Iowa's Agro-Metro Future


When Brent Richardson, a field rep for Cadillac, was told he'd been transferred to Des Moines, he assumed he'd be spending the next year in a small town environment. Des Moines turned out to have much more bustle than he expected. The city had a robust insurance sector among its diverse industries. And the lifestyle was very similar to what he was able to live in big city suburbs like Naperville, Illinois or Bellingham, Massachusetts. Steeped in a decade of Farm Aid concerts, he also expected the surrounding rural areas to be populated with hardscrabble homesteaders struggling to hang on. Instead, he discovered that farming was big business – and, these days in particular, reasonably profitable. And some of those Iowa farmers turned out to be Cadillac buyers.  read more »

Why Housing Will Come Back


Few icons of the American way of life have suffered more in recent years than  homeownership. Since the bursting of the housing bubble, there has been a steady drumbeat from the factories of futurist punditry that the notion of owning a home will, and, more importantly, should become out of reach for most Americans.  read more »