National Theme:

The Shifting Landscapes, Converging Peoples theme explores how the rapidly changing landscapes of contemporary suburbia can be re-configured to achieve a productive balance between the native and the newcomers' cultural contributions. Teachers and students actively interpret changing social spaces, such as restaurants, public buildings, and shopping centers; cultural events, such as fairs, homecomings, and ethnic celebrations; public policies, including planning and zoning ordinances; and oral histories that both "keep" the old way of life and help "create" the new.


One Local ApplicationReconfiguring 21st Century Suburbias (Click here to sample the Georgia team's applications of this theme.)

To prepare for their explorations of diverse suburban communities, the Georgia team studied Kenneth T. Jackson's Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States and listened to the National Public Radio oral memoirs of Carmen Agra Deedy on Growing Up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia. They also became avid readers of their local newspapers, tracking recurring stories about immigrants' experiences, innovations in suburban lifestyle, and issues associated with sprawl (e.g., traffic, endangered natural resources). They took walking tours of various Atlanta suburbs and did archival research about the formation of these communities. Additionally, they gathered oral histories from residents, researched histories of subdivisions and apartment communities within their targeted areas, and chronicled stories of recent immigrants. Students interviewed contractors about how subdivisions are designed and built, used digital cameras to record the rapid changes in the suburban landscape, and talked with both long-time residents and newcomers about their views on life in the outskirts of Atlanta.



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