Maps are useful. Useful in building empires, yes—but also useful in retrofitting empires. Our landscape is scarred by the boundaries, sacrifice zones, dreams and drainages of American empire. Whether you live in the East, with its abandoned hydro-powered industrial infrastructure, or in the west with mega-dams and irrigated Eden, or in the midwest, with over-pumped aquifers and plastic tilings riddling the water table — it is clear that the legacies of past land use figure deeply into our plans for the future. The future that we are moving towards, that we are ourselves crafting with our physical work, and with our thoughtful engagement- that future cannot be contained only in the vessels+grid constructed in the last centuries. The future that we are building, the local food systems, the energy conservation systems, the sensible transport systems- these systems are a cooperative re-design of the whole social matrix. Overlaid on the map of the past, is a map for the future.
Here we've linked to maps of cell phone reception, Amtrak rights of way, oil pipe lines, rivers, national forests, native american reservation lands, highways, soil types, population densities, sheep migration patterns, land ownership statistics etc. Like the early pioneers, whose settlements were shaped by hospitable valleys and favorable harbors or the industrial towns, perched on railway-intersections, cattle shipment yards, coal deposits- the work of future farmers is to use the mapped topography of America not as a constraint, but as a tool of transparency, enabling imagination. Look at the maps to see the whole picture, the livers and kidneys of our economy, the large intestines of waste disposal, the capilaries of riversystems+ bike trails. Flying over the country you'll see the irrigated crop circles, on a train you see the strip-mines, from a bike you can often perceive the movement of sewage beneath the city. Observing the situation as it is, as it exists, with all the limitations and toxicities—we can suss out opportunities unseen from the mass media screen, we can reject the proscriptions of green-marketeers, profiteers and corporate carpetbaggers. We have satellite imagery to check out what our neighbors are doing, and to find the patch of greenspace that is our future farm.
If you know of a great map- please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll include it!