Sustainable North Hollywood – Jordan Dodderer

I live in North Hollywood, CA. It is part of Los Angeles County and the massive urban sprawl that surrounds the smaller downtown area. The whole of los angeles is automobile centered. 18.5 million people live in Los Angeles, CA and 130,000 of those citizens live in my neighborhood of North Hollywood. Massive highways surround the specific community that I live in. I am within 5 minutes of 5 major highways. The community I live in also has access to a subway line, busses, and walking paths, but it is no small fact that automobiles rule the urban design landscape. North Hollywood is an artists community. There are acting studios, dance studios, an arts and design school, and many eclectic and eccentric businesses along the main street. I love my community, but the urban landscape leaves a lot to be desired aesthetically.


Copenhagen’s Bicycle culture is an incredibly inspiring program to me. The way they have crafted their streets to give cycle’s the priority in transportation, and made bike travel more convenient and safer for the citizens in their community. Where I live in North Hollywood, there are bike lanes on all of the streets. However, it is often seen as unsafe to be on the road because diving culture is so crazy. I just recently purchased a bicycle for local travel, but it is scary to be on the main roads because drivers are known to change lanes and make severe turns. Many cyclists ride on the sidewalk and in crosswalks to compensate, but then this causes trouble for pedestrians. I would love to see my community embrace bicycle traffic and make local commutes a safer and more efficient practice.
I also took particular inspiration from Michigan’s urban farming. I think the benefits of a community that embraces fresh produce and in turn helps clean up the surrounding urban landscape is the ultimate in urban renewal. In my community of North Hollywood we have large areas of unused land that sit under giant power lines. North Hollywood was a farming community in the 1940’s, but with the massive auto culture and urban sprawl, it got taken over by urban design. I would love to see my community turn these unused and “dirty” areas that are surrounded by chain link fences and trash, and turn them into sprawling farm and that is in turn sold at fair prices to the community. The thought of a grown local farmers market could bring a sense of community and pride as well.

The case study I chose from the provided sources involved hog farms and the environmental consequences and nuisances involved with these operations.  I found this case study from the list compiled from the University of Michigan at  The hog farms in question are located in North Carolina which according to this information is second in the country for hog production.  The goal of the development is to produce hogs conventionally in highly concentrated systems.  Also, the case study mentioned that there was a gap in the agricultural production because tobacco production has fallen off; hog production has filled this gap.  It relates to the development module because these farms are filling the demand for cheap meat sources that a developed country such as the US requires.  The farms seem to be located in rural areas that are less affluent, which also makes environmental justice relevant to the situation.

Also, I found a case study that looked into the treatment of agricultural workers and environmental effects from the farming systems that they work in.  This study was published in Environmental Research Letters, Volume 2, Number 4, and I accessed it online at  These farms are located in the Valley of San Quintin in Mexico, where a large amount of fruits and vegetables are grown for export using migrant workers for labor.  The living conditions are very poor for the agricultural workers, but also they are exposed to many negative environmental effects because of the area they work in.  They are exposed to pesticides, respiratory contaminants, and disease.  These operations are driven by the demand for produce by the US, but there is little regulation in Mexico to ensure safe conditions for the workers and people who live in these areas.

I chose these two agricultural topics because that is large part of the economy in my area in Erie County, PA.  In some ways they are similar because there is environmental consequence to any agriculture.  The hog situation is similar because there are nutrients that end up in the creeks and streams, however it is different because it seems like there is much more regulation here that dictates how concentrated animal operations can use manure. Also, there are not many instances where the burden of agricultural nuisances are placed disproportionately on lower income areas.  There are also seasonal workers for some farms in my area which relates to the migrant workers in San Quintin.  These workers also have potential to be exposed to pesticides and contaminants. The seasonal workers I am familiar with do have access to good housing and utilities unlike the Mexican workers however.  I think what can be learned is that there needs to be some regulation in all of these areas.  When development is only driven by economics, there tend to be injured parties.  With some oversight, community involvement, and good stewardship of resources, it is possible to create more sustainable development.  Geography also plays a role; the situations in case study illustrate very concentrated development, while the agriculture in northwest PA is more spread out and regulated.

Getting to Know you – Syed Amirul

Salam Sejahtera!

My name is Syed Amirul, I am currently a Senior majoring in Economics (BA). I have now lived in State College, Pennsylvania for four years, but I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (which was why I greeted you in Bahasa Malaysia- it means hello!). I have a keen interest in photography so I might pursue a career in doing commercial photography while helping my family run our business. My interest in this course is to generally learn about the Earth. I’m always interested in learning about the nature ( I took meteorology and astronomy classes) and I think learning geography will help me connect the dots between human and environment interaction and its effects towards one another. One fun fact about me- I can solve a Rubik’s cube in 40 seconds. If anyone could solve it faster, please teach me!

Now that we’ve been introduced to some perspectives in the field of geography, one example that came in mind was an issue that’s becoming a national controversy in my country. In Pahang, the largest state in Peninsula Malaysia, the government are being condemned after active bauxite mining that has turned into a harmful economic activity to the locals of the area. Many reports have address the issue and its negative impact, one coming from Malaysian Society of Marine Sciences chairman Dr Harinder Rai Singh who said the contamination would be fatal to marine life. The coast of Pahang are mostly contaminated and is bound to be ‘dead sea’ within three years. This issue is important to be scrutinized on, mainly on how the human-environment interaction caused these harmful conditions, and how that in turn will affect the lives of humans living in the vicinity of the polluted area.

Module 1: Getting to Know You

Hi everyone! My name is Karissa Kelly and I am a junior currently attending Penn State at University Park. I live with my parents in Kennett Square, PA when I am not attending school. Growing up I moved around frequently, I lived in Littleton, CO until I was ten. From that point my father’s job relocated my family to Shanghai, China which I found to be an amazing experience. After three years in China we moved back to Colorado for a year, until we found a home in Kennett Square, PA where we have lived ever since. As an Agricultural Sciences major I hope to use my degree in either conservation work overseas or in plant related research. My interest in this course stems from my desire to understand the connections between humans and their environment as well as how we can better those interactions to positively benefit the environment. A fact about me is that I love to travel the world and have already been to places such as Canada, Japan and South Africa.

One of the biggest issues that I believe Geography can address in our world today is climate change. Climate change is a direct result of human impact on the environment. As stated in the Scale section of this module, climate change is an issue on a global scale. Though I cannot argue with this point I also believe that there are smaller scales to take into consideration such as a city scale. One of the main arguments is that climate change in caused by car emissions. Higher populated cities will have more cars which will give off higher amounts of emissions. So while it is true that climate change is apparent on a global scale it is also true on a combination of smaller contributing scales. This idea of car emissions causing climate change also plays into the ideas in the Human- Environment Interactions section. Our two systems are currently not existing in a sustainable manner. Globally we need to find a way to reduce our carbon dioxide output before damaging the world any further.

Getting to Know You, Module 1

Hello class, my name is Katy Bordt. I am currently living in State College while I am attending PSU. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh. I am pursuing a career in Nuclear Engineering. I am interested in this course because it is extremely different than my engineering classes. Furthermore, I want to know more about the environment and what has to be done to sustain our current environment. This is my first Geography course. I have taken many other general electives in my 5 years at PSU, such as Anthropology and Kinesiology courses. Also,  I love studying different reglions and cultures. I am an animal lover, mostly a dog lover.  I have a rescue dog name Aurora currently, she used to be an Alaskan sled dog. Currently, she is in her glory with the cold weather and snow on the way.

From Module 1, I believe being able to visualize what is happening in a specific place is very important. I believe maps are a very useful tool.  However, after seeing the different tube maps in the module show how differently maps can be distorted.  It shows that maps should not be taken at face value. Also, I believe the most important concept from the first module is human-environment interactions. I believe humans are the making the most impact on today’s environment. I believe that something needs to be changed in the way we as humans abuse the environment. If any classmates have opinions or ideas on what should be changed to help make our environment more sustainable I would love to hear them.

Getting to Know Me-Sophia Greene

Hi everyone! My name is Sophia Greene. I am currently a sophomore here at Penn State. I was born in Rochester, New York and lived there until I was about seven years old. After, my family and I moved to Mountaintop, Pennsylvania and that has been home to me ever since. I am studying Pk-4 education and would like to graduate with a master’s degree before I begin my teaching career. I would like to teach either kindergarten or first grade. I am taking this course because it is required for my major. But I am really excited for this class because it will broaden my knowledge on geography and make me more aware of what is happening around me. When I’m not busy with school work, I like to bake, exercise, and spend time with my friends and family.

While reading module one, I became really interested in the human-environment interactions section. When I initially scrolled down on the page, the picture of the Folsom Lake immediately caught my attention. The first picture of the large lake in 2011 compared to the barren, patchy lake in 2014 was upsetting to see. It is scary to think that such a dramatic change could happen in a span of only a few years. The question of whether or not social and ecological systems can coexist cooperatively is pressing. More attention needs to be made to this issue so people can realize that what we do as humans can severely impact our planet.

Anthony Russo Learning Activity: Getting to Know You

Hello everyone, my name is Anthony Russo and I am currently a sophomore at Penn State University Park. I currently live in downtown State College for school and I am from a small town about half an hour outside of Reading called Douglassville. For those not familiar with that area, it is about one and a half hours west of Philadelphia. The major I am currently studying is Security and Risk Analysis with the Intelligence Analysis and Modeling option. With this major I hope to work for either the government or a large corporation in the business sector. I am not very sure which route I want to pursue yet. Geography has always interested me when it came up in lesson plans of former courses. I wanted to learn about the subject more in depth. One fun fact about me is that I like to play golf and have scored a hole-in-one from 169 yards out.

After being introduced to the breadth of perspectives in the field of geography, a major issue that has come to my attention is that of global warming. This issue is important because there is a good chance it is responsible for the changes currently being witnessed on Earth. The influx in temperatures and the melting of the top of the planet are just a few examples. The scale of global warming is not just a small region, but the entire planet. This is very well suited for the subject of geography because a major contributor to this epidemic is human impact on the environment such as carbon monoxide produced from man-made cars. This leads to humans questioning whether we can sustain ourselves with other ecological systems. I would like to explore the ethics of humans and see how much we put ourselves over the ecosystem. What would be different if humans didn’t prioritize themselves over non-human ecological systems?