Embedded Neon


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A dense (but playful?) approach to cultural geography. My undergraduate thesis at the University of Texas.

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  • In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket.
  • Embedded Neon

    1. 1. In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket. -Allen Ginsberg "A Supermarket in California" 1955
    2. 2. Embedded Neon: Imaging Authenticity in a Local Supermarket <ul><li>Wheatsville Co-op </li></ul><ul><li>Austin, Texas </li></ul>Amenity Applewhite GRG 374 Spring 2007
    3. 3. Embedded Neon: Imaging Authenticity in a Local Supermarket <ul><li>History of Wheatsville Co-op </li></ul><ul><li>A Community Grocery Store </li></ul><ul><li>Existing Research on Shopping & Food Travel </li></ul><ul><li> Rise of Alternative Tourism and Effects of Globalization </li></ul><ul><li>Spatial Embeddedness & Its Textual Images </li></ul><ul><li>Situational </li></ul><ul><li>Ecological </li></ul><ul><li>Economic </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity & Tourism </li></ul><ul><li>Is Wheatsville a tourist desination? Will it be one in the future? </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>1976: Lamar Opening </li></ul>History of Wheatsville Co-op A Community Grocery Store
    5. 5. <ul><li>1977-79: Determination </li></ul>History of Wheatsville Co-op A Community Grocery Store
    6. 6. <ul><li>1980: Renovation on </li></ul><ul><li> Guadalupe </li></ul>History of Wheatsville Co-op A Community Grocery Store
    7. 7. <ul><li>1980: Relocation & Renovation </li></ul>History of Wheatsville Co-op A Community Grocery Store
    8. 8. <ul><li>1981: Opening at new location </li></ul>History of Wheatsville Co-op A Community Grocery Store
    9. 9. <ul><li>Early 90s: Things look bright! </li></ul>History of Wheatsville Co-op A Community Grocery Store
    10. 10. <ul><li>Today: “Best Human-Scale </li></ul><ul><li>Place to Buy Food”* </li></ul>History of Wheatsville Co-op A Community Grocery Store * Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll
    11. 11. The Statistics Shopping & Food in Travel: Complementary Travel Elements to Major Tourist Activities TEXAS’ TOP TEN ACTIVITIES FOR OUT OF STATE TOURISTS Activity % Participation Dining 29% Shopping 28 Sightseeing 26 General entertainment 20 Visiting historic site 9 Visiting national/state park 8 Visiting theme/amusement park 8 Watching sporting event 7 Visiting art or museum exhibit 7 Participating in nightlife 7 Source: Office of the Governor 2007 MOST POPULAR ATTRACTIONS OUT OF STATE TOURISTS IN 2005 Rank Attraction 1 Alamo 2 (River Walk) Paseo del Rio 3 San Marcos Outlet Malls 4 SeaWorld of Texas 5 Six Flags Over Texas 6 State Capitol 7 South Padre Island 8 Padre Island Nat. Seashore 9 Moody Gardens 10 Houston Space Center Source: Office of the Governor 2007
    12. 12. Gastronomic tourism As markers of people and place, regional specialties and food products become vehicles for a closer understanding of culture (López 2006, 166). Shopping tourism Far from the utilitarian provision of necessary products while traveling, shopping has become a major travel activity, even the motivation for travel itself (Tosun 2007, 87). Alternative tourism paradigm Renewed interest in culture creates trends that assign symbolic and monetary values to cultural elements (López 2006, 166). Travelers seeking participatory touristic experiences can “consume” culture both literally and figuratively. Gastronomic & Shopping Tourism: The New Alternative Tourism Paradigm
    13. 13. <ul><li>Commodity fetishism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>• Modern consumer culture saturated with commodity signals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• Retail trends encourage shopping as a means to “collect signs and images of many cultures (Lash and Urry1994, 272).” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ MacDonaldization” backlash </li></ul><ul><li>• Increased standardization and homogeneity/U.S. Imperialism generates longing for the unique and authentic (López 2006, 168). </li></ul><ul><li>• Globalization a “contested process” (Murdoch 110). </li></ul>Effects of Globalization: Generation of the Alternative Tourism Paradigm
    14. 14. The Rising Appeal of Embeddedness: An Alternative Geography of Food Factors generating ‘placeless’ food • Agricultural industrialization. • Intensified processing & broadened distribution. • Increased liberalization in international trade (Parrott et al. 2002, 241). • Rising concerns about food safety and nutrition (Murdoch et al. 2000, 107) increase anxiety over placelessness Counter-movement seeking embeddedness • Consumers increasingly seek local and traditional culinary alternatives , newly appreciated for their perceived authenticity .
    15. 15. Multifaceted Embedding of Place <ul><li>• Place is a socio-cultural construction, continuously negotiated and defined (Sonnino 2007, 70). </li></ul><ul><li>• Embeddedness involves multiple simultaneous spatial processes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Temporal Co-op History </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Locational Site/Situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ecological Local agriculture, environmental stewardship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic Local business & finance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural Austin culture </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Locational Embeddedness: “The Drag” <ul><li>Austin’s counterpart to other historic urban shopping districts </li></ul><ul><li>• Times Square, New York • Little Italy, Boston </li></ul><ul><li>• China Town, San Francisco • Old Town, Albuquerque </li></ul><ul><li>Home to iconic Austin businesses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>111 years University Co-op </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>81 years Dirty Martin’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>20+ years Tom’s Tabooley, Antone’s Records, Mangia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pizza, Amy’s Ice Cream, Milto’s Pizza </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recent icons: Vulcan Video, I Luv Video/Spiderhouse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RIP Little City, Half-Price Books, Les Amis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Shopping enclaves retain touristic authenticity by maintaining local customers (Snepenger et al. 2003). </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;It's an important civic place. It's a real repository of our identity as a town, as a city and certainly as a university community.” - Lawrence Speck (KLRU-TV 2005) </li></ul>
    17. 17. Ecological Embeddedness: Local Concern <ul><li>Exclusive grocery vendor for local products </li></ul><ul><li>Produce, dairy, meat, prepared foods, candles, soap </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental benefits of local sourcing </li></ul><ul><li> • Supports local farmers and sustainable farming practices </li></ul><ul><li> • Reduces fuel consumption, pollution, and traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Additional environmental stewardship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>• Discounts for bulk purchases and container reuse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• On-site recycling: packaging, food, even clothing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• Bicycle transportation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• Support of local environmental organizations </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Ecological Embeddedness: Textual Representations “ The mission of Wheatsville Co-op is to serve a broad range of people by providing them goods and services, using efficient methods that avoid manipulation of the consumers and minimize exploitation of the producers or damage to the environment (Wheatsville Co-op 2007).”
    19. 19. Economic Embeddedness: Austin Money Built with local finances 1976 ZZ Top concert fundraiser: $5,000 raised 2006 renovation funds from members: $750,000 raised Profits return to Austin community • Patronage rebates checks Written to 1,500 members in 2006 • Donations to local charities Over $11,000 in 2006; 4.6% of net income! Member of Austin Independent Business Alliance • Guadalupe IBIZ district events • Promotes patronage of local businesses beyond the Co-op Source: Wheatsville 2006 Annual Report
    20. 20. Economic Embeddedness: Textual Representations “… my investment in Wheatsville is only backed by some big vegan guy. But if I invested in T-Bills then the U.S. government would use that money to kill a lot of people….Wheatsville kills far fewer people than that.” –Bluejay, Wheatsville Cultivator Source: Wheatsville Breeze February 2006
    21. 21. Cultural Embeddedness: Austin Weird Co-op products and politics shaped by members • Emphatically non-doctrinaire, inclusive & democratic • Members vote on banned products, charity donations • Anyone can join, non-members welcome “ Austin-weird” aesthetic represented in inventory, people & co-op events • Eccentric products • Prepared foods combine Southern cooking, Tex-Mex, and international cuisines • Diverse staff and customers • Seasonal festivals and monthly Third Thursday events involve local artists and musicians
    22. 22. Cultural Embeddedness: Textual Representations “… Wheatsville is so much more than a store -- it's also a community center, live music venue, and frequent fairground.” – Austin Chronicle Source: Austin Chronicle 2003
    23. 23. Cultural Embeddedness: Textual Representations Source: Goldstein 2006 “… where the hemp meets the hot sauce.” – Fearless Critic
    24. 24. Evaluating Embeddedness: Evident in the Co-op <ul><li>Spatial embeddedness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Temporal History of community-built grocery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Locational “The Drag” corridor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ecological Sustainable relationship with local farmers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic AIBA Guadalupe IBIZ District, UFCU </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural “…where the hemp meets the hot sauce!” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A myriad of texts reinforce imagery of embeddedness for Wheatsville and make a strong case for authenticity. In light of the new Alternative Tourism Paradigm, Wheatsville should be considered an excellent Austin tourist destination. </li></ul>
    25. 25. Aust-thentic as it gets! “ Take yourself on down to the place that screams &quot;old Austin&quot; from atop its neon corner sign and Arleen Polite mural, the place that still says &quot;Hello&quot; when you walk in and &quot;Have a great day!&quot; without a hint of irony or sarcasm on your way out, the place that will load up Oreos™, Mexican Cokes, spirulina, and groats (again, no hint of irony!) and give you a member discount to boot, all in one recyclable bag.” Source: Austin Chronicle 2003
    26. 26. Will the neon be retained in renovation? The Future of Embeddedness
    27. 27. BEHIND THE SCENES BONUS MATERIAL: Em- dread edness?
    28. 28. BEHIND THE SCENES BONUS MATERIAL: The back-store & a 4lb Frito Pie!
    29. 29. References <ul><ul><ul><li>Austin Chronicle. 2003. Old Sincerity. Austin Chronicle , July 4, Home section. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Guides/Location?oid=46398 (accessed April 24, 2007). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Austin Chronicle. 2007. Wheatsville Co-op. Austin Chronicle. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Guides/Location?oid=46398 (accessed April 24, 2007). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cook, Ian and Philip Crang. 1996. The World on a Plate: Culinary Culture, Displacement, and Geographical Knowledges. Journal </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>of Material Culture 1(2): 131-153 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Crider, Kitty. 2006. The people's grocery story. Austin American Statesman , May 10, Food & Drink section. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.austin360.com/food_drink/content/food_drink/dining_at_home/stories/2006/05/10wheatsville.html </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(accessed April 17, 2007). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dickerson, John, and Bill Meacham. 2006a. The Early Beginnings of Wheatsville 1976-1978. Wheatsville Breeze , March. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dickerson, John, and Bill Meacham. 2006b. The Early Beginnings of Wheatsville 1979-1981. Wheatsville Breeze , May. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Du Rand, G.E. and E. Heath. 2006. Towards a Framework for Food Tourism as Destination Marketing. Current Issues in Tourism 9(3): 206-234 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gallegos, Gabriel. Wheatsville Member Records. E-mail message to author, April 13, 2007. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hjalager, Ann-Mette, and Antonioli Corigliano. 2000. Food for Tourists –Determinants of an Image. International Journal of Tourism </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Research 2: 281-293 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Goldstein, Robin, Rebecca Markovits, and Monika Powe Nelson. 2006. Fearless Critic Austin Restaurant Guide . New Haven: Off the </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Map Press. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>KLRU-TV. 2005. What does the future hold for the historic shopping district next to the UT campus? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.klru.org/austinnow/archives/UT_drag/ut_drag.asp (accessed April 24, 2007). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lash, Scott and John Urry. 1994. Economies of Time and Space . London: Sage. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lopez, Armesto Xosé and Martín Belén Gomez. 2006. Tourism and Quality Agro-Food Products: An Opportunity for the Spanish </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Countryside . Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 97(2): 166-177 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Murdoch, Jonathan, Terry Marsden, and Jo Banks. 2000. Quality, Nature, and Embeddedness: Some Theoretical Considerations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>in the Context of the Food Sector. Economic Geography 76(2): 107-125 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism. 2007. 2007 Travel Facts. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.travel.state.tx.us/travelfacts.aspx pdf (accessed April 22, 2007). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Parrott, Nicholas, Natasha Wilson, and Jonathan Murdoch. 2002. Spatializing Quality: Regional Protection and the Alternative </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Geography of Food. European Urban and Regional Studies 9(3) 241-261 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Perkins, John. Wheatsville Finance Manager. E-mail message to author, April 12, 2007. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Snepenger, David J, Leann Murphy, Ryan O'Connell, and Eric Gregg. 2003. Tourists and residents use of a shopping space. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Annals of Tourism Research 30(3) 567-580. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sonnino, Roberta. 2007. Embeddedness in action: Saffron and the making of the local in southern Tuscany. Agriculture and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Human Values 24(1): 61-74 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Squire, Shelagh. 1994. Gender and tourist experiences: assessing women's shared meanings for Beatrix Potter. Leisure Studies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>13(3): 195-209 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tosun, Cevat, S. Pinar Temizkan, Dallen J. Timothy, and Alan Fyall. 2007. Tourist Shopping Experiences and Satisfaction. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>International Journal of Tourism Research . 9: 87-102 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Wheatsville Co-op. 2006a. Thanks Investors. Wheatsville Breeze , February. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wheatsville Co-op. 2006b. The Wheatsville 2005-2006 Annual Report. http://wheatsville.coop/2005-06AnnualReport.pdf </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(accessed April 17, 2007). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wheatsville Co-op. 2007. Community Links. http://wheatsville.coop/partners.html (accessed April 17, 2007). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Special thanks to Aldia Bluewillow, Gabriel Gallegos, & John Perkins </li></ul></ul></ul>