Woods in Ealing by the Grand Union Canal. The view from Alexandra Palace, looking south across #London.

Step Up Revolution – A Guerrilla Geography for Schools?

Spoiler Alert

I recently watched Step Up Revolution and was struck by what an awesome case study this film would make in geography classrooms. Some people may be fooled into thinking this is just a film about dance, but Step Up Revolution is a classic geographical (if fictional) study of people, place, power, planning and protest in cities. When a strip in Miami is threatened with topocide and gentrification “The Mob” fight back to protect their home. Guerrilla Geography is rife in this blockbuster, as the dancers move from ‘performance art’ to ‘ protest art’, intentionally occupying spaces to make their point and exert their power. It’s full of beautifully geography-based quotes too, as the characters debate identify, culture and more.

The love interest plot in the film revolves around Sean and Emily, two dancers who have fallen for each other but who are separated by their differences in wealth.  To top that it’s Emily’s dad who is trying to redevelop the area and Sean is one of the leaders of the “Mob” that is uprising. Near the end of the film they dance together to the song “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra, a beautiful song that with its use in this film draw parallels between finding a sense of home in both place and people… in this case, with each other through dance.

The film ends with Emily’s dad (the property developer) saying “Maybe there is a way to build-up this neighbourhood without tearing it down”. What a classic problem for any classroom of students try and tackle.


A “Guerrilla Geography” Google Hangout for Geography Awareness Week #GAweek

Last week I had great fun helping to make this live Guerrilla Geography video with National Geographic Education for Geography Awareness Week. What do you think of it?

Join in with Geography Awareness Week

Geography is an important part of all our lives, yet the subject is often misunderstood, marginalised and even damaged. Geography Awareness Week is an important effort to raise awareness of how powerful and useful the subject is.

Geography Awareness Week is celebrated at different times of the year depending on where in the world you live. This week National Geographic Education is taking the lead in North America and is being supported many other organisations across the continent and world. The Geography Collective, which I help to lead, is very pleased to be one of them.

This is not just an opportunity for North America though. Wherever you are in the world you will find ideas and resources on the Geography Awareness Week website that you can use to promote geography and support your work.

Tweeting on #GAweek, this year focuses on the complex and important geographical idea of interdependence. This theme is a challenging one that mixes ‘human’ and ‘physical’ geographies that are so often divided. It also helps to avoid the ‘trivia geographies’ of naming capitals that prevent so many people from having a deeper understanding of the power of our field.

Here are some great resources things that are happening this week that you can get involved in:

> Measure and map your interdependence with the Global Closet Calculator. This is an awesome tool and if you spend some time with it you can get some exciting results and mapping.  Made by our partners at The Workshop for National Geographic Education you can have a go here.

> We’ve made a whole bunch of free Mission:Explore resources. This includes a special version of Mission:Explore Food that’s full of Interdependence missions along with new challenges on the Mission:Explore website.

> Get the toolkit.

> On Tuesday evening at 7pm I’m going to be giving a special Nat Geo Live presentation on Guerrilla Geography from the National Geographic Society in Washington DC. You can get tickets here.

> On Thursday we’re going to be having a Guerrilla Geography Google+ Hangout. Join us at 1pm ET as we spend 30 minutes exploring, sharing and discussing guerrilla geography challenges. Explorers in the UK, India, New Zealand and the US will be joining in.

> This weekend I’ll be with National Geographic Education in Seattle for the 2012 National Council for Social Studies conference. I’m going to be presenting and the Nat Geo team will be getting everyone excited about geography.

I do hope that you can join one of these things. If not, why not find your own way to celebrate this important week or simply pass the message on?


In passing

I love this short film by the Light Surgeons.


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