Maps often reveal as much about the beliefs and culture of the mapmaker as they do about the locations they depict. Taking this in stride, the collective Mapping Feminist Los Angeles has begun to put together the Angelena Atlas in order to “to share intersectional feminist resources, services, and events for womxn in Los Angeles County.” The organization, which is based out of the Women’s Center for Creative Work, comprises three core members—Leana Scott, Yasmine Batniji, and Brittany Arceneaux—who bring together skills in everything from urban planning and tech development to community organizing and digital art. Mapping Feminist Los Angeles member Leana Scott points out that “cities often have networks of resources...but bringing those to light is quite difficult. And information remains underground or piecemeal and disjointed.” Brittany Arceneaux goes on to say that far too often access to this information is “very much based upon your existing social networks,” which further limits knowledge of these resources to those already in the know. The Angelena Atlas confronts this problem head-on by collecting, collating, and annotating a wide range of resources from reproductive health centers to performance spaces while attempting to promote itself outside of just the networks its members already exist in. The goal is to make a map as widely accessible as possible, certainly no small feat. The Angelena Atlas will feature resources across the entirety of Los Angeles County, so people can find organizations that serve them, collectives to participate in, or spaces to share their work no matter their locale. It will also, as its explicitly intersectional mission suggests, be centered around resources that are, among many other things, anti-racist, anti-ableist, pro-immigrant, and LGBTQ friendly. Additionally, the various points on the Angelena Atlas will be annotated to help people understand the purpose, audience, and accessibility of the various spaces While the collective has presented zines and other preliminary materials at zine and artbook fairs and other events (they have an upcoming fundraiser and awareness-building brunch that will also bring together some organizations on the map), the final form of the Angelena Atlas is still under construction. Part of what they’ll be focusing on is what Batniji calls a “creative representation of data” that will help people highlight “the impact that the resources have on them.” In this way, the Angelena Atlas will be a participatory project, radically horizontal and ever evolving. They also are looking into open source solutions for the online map so that they, and the public, retain ownership of their information. In addition, they plan on making a print version to make sure they truly can create a resource for as many people as possible. Arceneaux says that this approach to mapmaking “goes back to the core values of the project by making sure that everything we're doing and every design decision that we make is really tied back to intersectionality and making sure that these places are friendly and accessible to people of all abilities and experiences.” Arceneaux goes on to point out that many people, especially in the current political environment, are interested in joining conversations and finding community, but may not even realize that there might be “an organization in [their] own backyard.” As Scott puts it, the Angelena Atlas not only has the direct effect of providing useful information but also “fosters a new spatial awareness through data.” It’s all about “recontextualizing Los Angeles.” Arceneaux’s hope is that “by highlighting and visualizing the activity that is happening in our city people will start to look at their communities a little differently.” Thinking about feminist mapping and radical mapping inevitably begs the question of what an intersectional feminist city would look like. However, Batniji says the group is “not interested in creating utopias because that's where things get really sticky.” In the public sphere “there's always going to be contention, there's always going to be issues. A feminist city would be a place for having these conversations. A feminist city would be just a place for possibility to happen.” It would be, as Arceneaux puts it, “a place where everyone feels empowered.”
Posts tagged with "mapping":
Interdisciplinary practice SITU Research—a branch of Brooklyn-based SITU Studio—has partnered with Amnesty International’s Crisis Division to chart the ongoing atrocities committed against civilians in Jebel Marra, a mountainous region located in the Darfur province of Sudan that peacekeeping forces have been unable to reach. The interactive project uses satellite imagery, photographs, and over 200 in-depth interviews to document the conflict in the area. The platform details 171 sites where the government has been using “scorched earth” tactics against its citizens, such as torching entire villages, looting livestock, and raping residents in the area. Researchers have also found 56 witnesses that attest to the use of chemical weapons by the Sudanese military in at least 30 attacks that have occurred since January, according to Quartz. According to an Amnesty International report, about a quarter of a million people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in Sudan, and over 360 civilians have died as a result of the atrocities, including 95 children. The most recent attack occurred on September 9, 2016, according to The Guardian. The report and interactive platform is the latest of SITU Research’s Spatial Practice as Evidence and Advocacy (SPEA) projects that utilize a combination of satellite mapping and data visualization to make information about human rights abuses accessible to human rights organizations, international leaders, and the broader public.
A new online planning platform lets residents shape a neighborhood from the comfort of their smartphones
In a creative digital shift, the City of New York has residents of one Brooklyn neighborhood tagging up a storm on a new urban planning platform designed to affect neighborhood change IRL. With the help of coUrbanize, a Boston-based city planning and community engagement startup, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is testing its new toolkit of neighborhood planning ideas in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Building on community input gathered in The Brownsville Hundred Days to Progress Initiative and the department's guidelines for neighborhood planning, HPD is using coUrbanize's platform to aid the Brownsville Neighborhood Planning Process, a community planning initiative that seeks to increase the neighborhood's supply of affordable housing; add retail along Livonia Avenue, a main commercial artery; and enhance public safety with vacant lot revitalization, among other measures. Instead of convening residents in a church or a rec center basement, coUrbanize brings neighborhood planning meetings online, distilling the often-complex studies and terms that planners throw around with impunity (ULURP? CEQR?) into an easy-to-understand format and tag-able map that solicits residents' ideas. Founded in 2013 by graduates of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, the site is geared towards people who want to participate in their community's planning but may not have time or schedule flexibility to attend a meeting. In Brownsville, a neighborhood where many have limited access to the internet and 37 percent of households live below the poverty line, HPD uses coUrbanize's platform to encourage residents text in feedback on areas the city has identified as sites for improvement. "We're committed to reaching voices not often heard, traditionally," said Karin Brandt, coUrbanize founder and CEO. The text messaging service also has a general line where people can voice ideas that aren't on the city's radar. In a welcome display of constructive feedback and civility—two attributes generally not reserved for online comments sections—Brownsville residents are using coUrbanize's platform to map places of interest in their neighborhood that they love, those that are just okay, and ideas for what could be better or built anew. Amid endorsements of spaces like the Osborn Street park and mural and the (Rockwell Group–designed) Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park, many commenters called for more extracurricular activities for neighborhood youth, sit-down restaurants, and better amenities in parks. The Brownsville planning project is in the second stage of its four-stage timeline right now, with a final plan expected by February 2017. Right now, the coUrbanize toolkit is used mainly by municipalities in Massachusetts, but cities farther afield (Atlanta, San Antonio) are signing up. The City of Boston is using the platform to widen its community engagement for Imagine Boston 2030, the city's multi-pronged planning effort that comes with a stellar city nerd reading list. Check out the platform here.
How can your smartphone shape the social fabric of cities? The New Cities Foundation selected ten "Global Urban Innovators," individuals whose tech companies boost quality of life in their home cities and regions. On Tuesday, three speakers from those winning companies shared their ideas with New Cities Summit attendees: Steven Ramage, Strategy director, What3words. What3words provides an address for everyone. The mapping service distills the complexity of GIS coordinates by dividing the entire surface of the globe into three-by-three meter squares and assigning each square an easy-to-remember word sequence. According to the UN Development fund, four billion people don't have a formal address. Poor addressing has a massive impact: If UPS could save one mile per driver the company would save $50 million per day, Ramage explained. What3words' 57 trillion squares are for those with postal addresses, too: This reporter plugged in The Architect's Newspaper's New York City address. On What3words, the paper's at "Tricks.funds.fluid": A universal address. https://vimeo.com/112227335 "Words mean you can spot errors, which is much harder to do with GPS coordinates," Ramage noted. The service has been used for emergency response disaster relief in remote locations. What3words facilitates planning the placement of hydrants, pylons, or other structures that don't have have an address but can now be tagged to one. As a free app for citizens, What3words is used in favelas in Rio de Janeiro: every household has an address in Portuguese. Mostly rural Mongolia has adopted the service as its postal system. Currently, the service operates in 10 languages, and will be available in 20 by the end of 2016. Chinmay Aggarwal, Co-founder and cheif technology officer, Jugnoo. Aggarwal founded auto rickshaw rideshare service Jugnoo in November 2014 with Samar Singla in Chandigarh, India. Auto rickshaws, or tuk tuks, are a common mode of transit in Indian cities, but are underused because hailing them can be challenging, prices are mutable, and their presence on the streets is not always predictable. Drivers are usually migrants from rural areas who typically earn less than $8.00 per day driving. Aggarwal and Singla developed a ride-hailing app à la Uber. Crucially, Jugnoo's founders gave auto rickshaw drivers smartphones to be able to access the app and receive riders. The platform can be accessed through Facebook if riders or drivers don't have enough space on their phone to download it. Today, there are over 10,000 drivers on the platform, and their income, on average, has doubled. Added income, Aggarwal explained, has a trickle-out effect: Drivers send money home to their families in rural areas, strengthening the social fabric of their home communities while improving transit infrastructure in their adopted cities. The success of Jugnoo has prompted its founders to pilot a Postmates-esque delivery program in Chandigarh where tuk tuk drivers deliver goods to consumers. Niamh Kirwann, Marketing and communications manager, FoodCloud. Founded in 2012, FoodCloud is a two-part response to the astronomical cost of food waste and food need in 27 counties in Ireland and parts of the U.K. FoodCloud is an app connects stores and supermarket's food waste to nonprofits that serve meals as part of their programming. To the collective shock of those in the conference room, Kirwann noted that 30 percent of all food grown worldwide is wasted, and 550 trillion liters of water is used to grow food that's not eaten. A message in app goes from one of 500 participating markets to 1,100 nonprofit providers, letting nonprofits know what and how much food local markets have to give away. It's a win-win: Stores save money on food disposal cost, and nonprofits save money on food provision. So far, FoodCloud has diverted 1352 tons of food, enabling nonprofits to serve 2.9 million meals.
For visually impaired students, navigating around a building or a college campus is often a challenging task. That's set to change, thanks to Jason Kim and Howon Lee, researchers at Rutgers University School of Engineering in New Jersey. The duo has developed 3D printed braille maps of their campus. Kim, a senior mechanical engineering student and Lee, an assistant professor at the Joseph Kohn Training Center (an institution that helps the visually impaired), designed the maps with the help of CAD software, SolidWorks 3D. When complete, the maps are about the size of a standard iPad. Like normal maps, some will be fixed to the walls of the university, however, these will only offer a limited selection of braille labelling. The maps are intended to be carried around in a binder by students for easy access personal reference. https://youtu.be/nvo3Z9Af1so Before starting the project, both said they knew nothing about the format of braille and had a lot to learn. Visiting the Joseph Kohn Training Center multiple times the pair received feedback from faculty and students, being able to finish the map by the end of summer. “One of the things we saw with conventional braille printed on paper is that it doesn’t last long,” Lee said. So far, only one map has been produced, though Lee hopes to lower production costs with the aim for every interested student to have a map by the start of the new first semester. Lee also spoke of his interest to develop more maps for the rest of the Rutgers campus and city of New Brunswick, NJ. The idea is to “give freedom, extended freedom, to navigate and go from one place to another without worrying too much,” he said.
Busybodies and neighborhood know-it-alls rejoice: today, New York City, in partnership with civic data managers Vizalytics, launched a beta version of neighborhood.nyc, a new website that maps street-level information derived from 311 calls and city agencies. While this information was and is available in the NYC Open Data Portal, it often required time and high-level sleuthing to sort through mounds of data. The city's new website, neighborhood.nyc, pulls from open data feeds to streamline and map information in the data portal, allowing residents to filter results by neighborhood, or categories, including: MTA, traffic, public health, and quality of life. A search of Tribeca (AN's home neighborhood) revealed markers for noise complaints, street closures, restaurant inspection reports, and contact information for police, fire, and elected officials. In the coming months, the city will invite community leaders to become page administrators, allowing them update their neighborhood's home page images, post community events, or promote local business. To ensure broad access, the site is available in 13 languages. Each neighborhood has its own searchable URL. The index lists over 400 districts famous and obscure, including the twee portmanteaus that are definitely not a thing.
Researchers at UCLA and the UC-Berkeley are mapping neighborhood change in the Bay Area. The Urban Displacement Project uses government housing, land use, transportation, and Census data from 1990–2013 to find markers that represent turnover in housing, demographic shifts, and new investment. Led by UC-Berkeley's Karen Chapple and Miriam Zuk, researchers divided the nine-county Bay Area’s 1,569 Census tracts into low- and high-income tracts. Low-income tracts were defined as areas where 39 percent of households earn 80 percent less than each county’s median income, and high income tracts where less than 39 percent of households are considered low income. Low- and high-income tracts were categorized by residential displacement “risk factors.” Significantly, the report defines “gentrification” and “displacement” differently. Displacement is defined as a net loss of low income residents, while “gentrification” is tangible evidence of neighborhood investment and/or an influx of more affluent residents. This is important because, as the researchers found, gentrification in some areas happened before displacement, while in others, displacement comes first or occurs at the same time as gentrification. Lower income tracts were assessed for risk of gentrification and displacement, while higher income tracts were assessed for displacement risk only. Overall, 51 percent of tracts did not experience significant displacement, while 48 percent are losing low-income residents. Researchers found that 422 tracts are “at risk” of displacing poor residents, while 165 are “currently experiencing displacement.” The map is intended as a resource for community groups taking action to prevent displacement. The data is retrospective, shedding light on regional population trends. Planners, however, cannot use the data to make sure predictions about where gentrification and displacement is likely to occur in the future. The data doesn’t reveal where displaced residents move to, or account for other qualitative factors that may prompt a move. Transportation planning and development can benefit a lower-income area, if officials take into account the economic and social needs of the existing population. Some areas, including East Palo Alto, and Marin City, have actively forestalled displacement with housing subsidies and community organizing.