Category Archives: 4–The Eleven Cantons

Section four of my “Story of Albeit” series.

Noulevac: A Canton of Mystery—4E

Noulevac: A Canton of Mystery—4E

7/22/08

Kenneth Burchfiel

Every city has its center. Every metropolis, village and town has a “downtown” to call its own, a place said to embody the very traits that the area is known for. For Albeit, this “center” is not just a geographic dot on the map but the cultural heartbeat of the entire place. Its name is Noulevac.

A good chunk of the area within Albeit’s city limits can be classified as “downtown.” Unterwalden, Phoebe, Graupel share that designation, which means an extra subway line and higher-density housing and office space. Noulevac, then, is the downtown of Albeit’s four downtowns. As the only “landlocked” Canton, it’s surrounded by city on every corner and serves as a hub for the region as a whole. This makes it a government and transportation hotspot, of course, but nobody thinks of the Canton in terms of roads or bureaucracy. They see it as the standard by which all other Cantons are judged; the epicenter of the cultural and intellectual earthquake that Albeit has come to embody.

Noulevac was not always as prominent as it is today. At the onset of the city’s development, Unterwalden and Phoebe—the commercial and residential centers of Albeit—stole much of the show. Many predicted that Noulevac, a mixed development that lacked Phoebe’s high-density apartments or Unterwalden’s skyscrapers, would soon become dormant as residents moved elsewhere.

Such claims were based on the assumption that Albeitians are like all other city dwellers: that they care only about tall buildings, skylit shots and fashionable neighborhoods. Noulevac boasted none of these, but what it did offer was the very thing that most Albeitians look for: a place where independence and originality are valued over conformity and the mainstream. Noulevac is famous for its “creative camaraderie,” an atmosphere where writing, art, design and other right-brained activities are valued and appreciated. Unterwalden drew in the businessmen, but Noulevac attracted that odd breed that enjoyed creating over earning. It is no secret which Canton became more popular citywide.

It would be a grave mistake, however, to label the district as “bohemian,” “cosmopolitan” or even rebellious. Noulevac is not the stereotypical “art district” for private college students. 70 percent of its residents are between the ages of 30 and 60; the remaining 30 percent, surprisingly enough, are mainly senior citizens. The people who live and work here don’t follow trends as much as they do their creative whims, resulting in a Canton whose dress and residences seem to belie their right-brained nature. Fashion-oriented? No. Avant-garde? Few “Vaccies” even know what that means. Passionate and committed to developing their creative abilities? Yes, say the Canton’s residents.

At the same time, Noulevac’s 60,000 inhabitants aren’t always prone to share their work with the world. Many describe themselves as introverts through and through, in the sense that interaction takes second fiddle to introspection. Residents can go decades without knowing (or understanding, at the least) the people who live next door. This, in part, is why the area has come to assume the title of “Mystery Canton.” Noulevac is the Canton that started the tradition of secret societies: groups that work together on creative projects while keeping their work shielded from the outside world. Some of Albeit’s most legendary societies base their roots here, although—not surprisingly—few can gauge the full extent of Noulevac’s secret society involvement. All that can be said is that the majority of the residents are affiliated with at least one mystery group, in-Canton or otherwise.

Even the district’s design has generated some interest. Urban planner Bernardo Focelli never did reveal why he gave the Canton its seemingly arbitrary name, or the derivation of the street names for the city’s two crossroads: Ekspiotoc and Ewtenpia. At least one society is said to understand the meaning.

There is no limit to the cultural symbols with which people can define Noulevac: the A-frame houses that much of the Canton lives in; the interconnected buildings (either by skybridge or tunnel) that secret societies have built; or Noulevac Park, a garden whose chief draw is the elaborate wood-wrought castle in the middle. The beauty of the Canton, though, is that all one-dimensional labels tend to fall short. The only way that one can truly understand the district is to spend a little time in the area, to interact with the shyly brilliant inhabitants, to receive a “Letter of Invitation” from one of the district’s secret societies. Then, and only then can they come to see the full cultural and creative extent of the Canton called Noulevac.

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Hauraki: Albeit’s Best-Kept Secret—4D

Hauraki: Albeit’s Best-Kept Secret

7/21/08

Kenneth Burchfiel

    

 

Hauraki, as the Globe’s online editor Sieb Henderson once said, is one of those Cantons that an Albeit native can go their entire lives without visiting. To some extent, this is true. The Canton lies at the southernmost edge of the city, bordered only on the northern side by a part of Albeit. In many respects, it stays isolated from the rest of Albeit; nobody considers it a major transportation hub, commerce hub, dining hub, shopping hub or residential Hub. Even the mayor of Albeit in the late eighties, wondered if he wouldn’t do best to “Shave off Hauraki and make the number of Cantons a clean ten.”

    A funny thing happens, though, when people enter the region for the first time. As it turns out, Hauraki is not just an extraneous blob on the city map, but a community filled with as many attractions—if not more—than the other 10 Cantons of Albeit.

    An old rumor goes that Hauraki was the last region to be awarded to an urban planner; nobody wanted to design what appeared to be the most secluded area in all of Albeit. This much is true: those who created the main blueprints for Albeit weren’t sure if the Canton needed to exist. Southeast already had three regions to call its own; the city was already, as the joke goes, with a clean 10 neighborhoods. Ironically, this debate over its purposefulness led to Hauraki getting the lion’s share of city projects. By the time Albeit’s chief planners decided the city needed a university and a football stadium, the other Cantons already had their designs finalized. Hauraki was the only place left to build.

    And so, even a satellite picture of the area reveals some enticing destinations. Hauraki is not only home to Albeit You, a university that hangs dear in the memories of many residents, but of all the main sports complexes and stadiums in the city. One of the Canton’s best-known landmarks is Canepa Park, a 70,000-seat stadium built entirely underground. Residents walking on the glass ceiling above can watch Alball and football games played out a few hundred feet below. Canepa and the University take up much of the region’s area, though space remained for a few other important developments. No trip to Albeit is complete without an elevator ride atop the Fanning Tower, a 260-meter structure that lets residents make out the southern edge of Montana. As if this weren’t enough, the city has the only major golf course in Albeit.

    With all this in mind, it would seem that the only people who bother to enter Hauraki are height-lovers, Alball fans, college students and golfers. One must not forget about the residents themselves, who might just be the city’s biggest attraction.

    Hauraki started out as the least populated Canton in all of Albeit. In the decades to come, though, it grew denser and denser as people flustered with the changing face of Unterwalden and Graupel started to migrate there. Haurakans tend to embody the “Central Tenants” of Albeit: Independence, creativity and a little mystery sprinkled here and there. They are known especially as an artistic base, with almost all residents experienced in some shape or form with the brush, pottery wheel or chisel.

    What separates the Canton from other creative regions (Pacfyst and Spengler, to name a few) is its residents’ tendency to work together in groups. As one resident explained, “Here in ‘Raki, we actually talk to our neighbors. We go out to dinner with our neighbors. If one of us has a cool idea, we enlist the help of our neighbors.” Few secret societies exist in Hauraki, chiefly because one’s fellow residents are usually happy to work with someone on a project. Many proud Haurakans call their namesake the “Interconnected Canton,” and it shows: the majority of the area is more than happy to help one another.

    Though Albeitians are known as religious people, the sentiment is especially strong in Hauraki. One of the most vibrant religions in the area is Quakerism, which almost a third of the region identifies with. When Haurakans aren’t searching for the Inner Light, they can often be found out in the streets with a pair of Alball rackets, an easel or simply themselves.

    Hauraki, thus, isn’t just the Extraneous Canton or the Unnecessary Canton. It’s the Creative Canton, the Interconnected Canton, the Active Canton, the Educated Canton and the Observant Canton—in more ways than one. If it weren’t also the Southernmost Canton, perhaps more of Albeit would come to appreciate it.

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Elam Directory–4I2

Here are the street and location directories, respectively, for the Canton of Elam. It is suggested that these be used in conjunction with the Elam map so as to make finding streets and buildings easier.

elam-location-directory

elam-road-directory

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Elam Map–4I2

Here’s the full-size map of Albeit’s contreversial “Commie Canton.” File size: 15 megabytes.

elam-map

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Elam: One Canton, 3 Steps—4I3

Elam: One Canton, 3 Steps—4I3

7/5/2008

Kenneth Burchfiel

    
 

 

 

“My friend, now is the time to turn your life around.” That is the message discovered in Elam’s diagonal roads if the street map is read from left to right, up to down. It also embodies the purpose of Albeit’s most controversial Canton: to help the sick, poor and oppressed turn a new leaf and get back on track. Hidden behind those inspirational streets is a tangled web of idealism, tax dollars and turbulence.

    When Albeit’s cantons were being planned out, Tsuhaka Kono, a Vietnamese-Hawaiian urban planner famous for his revitalized urban districts, had an unconventional idea. He petitioned the Albeit Planning Board to let Elam be an “Oasis for the Oppressed,” with housing and services catered to low-income residents. The idea seemed innocent enough at the time, and—by a one vote margin—Kono got the go-ahead to turn the square nautical mile into one of the biggest housing projects on Earth.

    That was when things started to get touchy. Neighboring residents in Unterwalden and Spengler feared for their personal safety. Taxpayers citywide complained about the 12.5% “Social Justice Fee,” which doubled the sales tax and threatened to throw a wrench into the economy’s gears. The loudest criticism of all was directed at the supposedly Leftist policies that Elam embraced, including common ownership of all donated goods and rent-free housing. By the mid-1980s, most of the 40,000 or so residents of Elam had packed their bags in preparation for a seemingly imminent eviction.

    That was when Samuel Elam (formerly Milton) stepped onto the political soapbox. Speaking before the city council, he made a speech that now sits, gold-engraved, at the very center of Elam. His talking points included the drops in crime and poverty that Elam accounted for, the comprehensive anti-homelessness policies of its workers and the abundant opportunities for community service. For the second time in history, the Canton was kept alive by one vote. As of 2010, it serves some 50,000 citizens with the same commitment it displayed two decades ago.    

    The concept of Elam is nothing complicated. Within the Canton’s borders lie three separate districts: Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3. Step 1 residents usually include the homeless and the chronically sick, who receive free housing, healthcare and food with no strings attached. Those willing to take one step closer to normal living may advance to Step 2, where free job seminars and education are combined with fixed-rate housing at astronomically low rates. The final piece of the program is Step 3, where residents pay for everything within their means and actively seek out a traditional Albeit residence.

    And yet, Elam tends to escape definition as a “Welfare City.” 90 percent of residents were actively involved in a full-time job as of 2008; of those, 20 percent worked outside the Canton. The other 70 percent worked on-site in construction, maintenance, housekeeping or other service programs. Though the area is taxpayer funded, Albeit’s reliance on Elam residence to oversee Elam projects helps keep the tax burden quite low. Most out-of-Canton money goes towards education and public safety.

    Perhaps the primary reason for its avoiding the term, though, is its architecture. Kono was adamant that the buildings in Elam be of stone construction with wooden interiors. The result: a square mile of buildings that look and feel like a college campus or a private estate. Said one Step 2 member in 1993: “It’s a place for the homeless, I know. It just doesn’t look like a place for the homeless.” Studies have shown that Elam’s vivid architecture has contributed greatly to its low crime rate and the success of its welfare efforts.

    Nor is the area populated only by members of the “Step Program.” About 10,000 citizens live on cross streets that run in between the three districts, giving the area greater demographic diversity. These so-called Step 4 residents have more than a few attractions to visit—namely, the Albeit proving grounds and the rolling hills of Elam park—but amenities remain scarce.

    Elam still has its opponents, especially those disgruntled with the amount of money they pay to keep the “Commie Canton” up and running. Nevertheless, most of Albeit’s residents take pride in supporting one of the only city-wide welfare projects in the world, a Canton that gives everyone and anyone the chance to turn their lives around. As Samuel Elam said, “In most cities, the poor live off the streets. Here, the poor live off one another.”

    

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Slat Map–4I1

Here is the Canton map of Slat, the 3rd of its kind to be finished (out of 11). Warning: PDF file is 38.8 megabytes! Make sure your computer is as prepared to see Slat as you are.

slat-map

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Slat Directory–4I2

Here are the directory accompaniments for the Slat relief, giving you the chance to decipher the Letter/Number codes on the map. Enjoy!

slat-street-directory1

slat-location-directory2

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