Mapping our stories, organizing our community
We love the local look and feel of this community mapping initiative from East Somerville, Massachusetts where Creative Narrations collaborated with Somerville Community Corporation, neighborhood youth, and community leaders. Organizers knew that a map that lived just online wouldn't work for many of the residents, who didn't have reliable internet access, so they brainstormed and came up with a hybrid strategy.
In a series of workshops, we trained neighborhood residents in basics of still photography and digital audio. They then went out in the field, recording stories, images, and interviews in businesses, parks, street corners, and other places of significance. Residents wove these recordings, along with data such as air quality, green space, bus stops, etc. into a collective community map that was 2.5 meters high by 1.5 meters wide. Since 2005, SCC has used this map to better understand the patterns and experiences of neighborhood residents, and as an organizing tool at neighborhood meetings. In 2006, SCC received a grant from the Somerville Arts Council to turn this project into an interactive, online map. They are currently in the process of adding video clips of interviews to engage community residents in land use planning. Take a look!