Friday, June 20, 2008

Creating our map

I saw a map on the kitchen table today. It's one that my husband drew—a cartographer by title, a spatial data analyst, student and teacher by passion—for a recent weekend outing. The map is on a piece of yellow legal paper, a pen with a line drawn quickly across the middle and arrowheads on both ends. There are four labels on the map.

Some would say that this does not qualify as a map. But, he represented the information he needed, eliminated unnecessary data and clearly portrayed the spatial relationship to the intended audience, himself.

If only my search for starting mapgiving had been so direct, we would have donated hundreds of hours by this point, to groups who could have benefitted from our services. But, along the way, I have learned a number of lessons, I spent a lot of time without a map exploring the world and landed with a clear picture of what I'd like the destination to look like.

I began my search by contacting well-respected professors on the topic of geographic education and community involvement. Most advice was the same, "Go back to school, get a PhD, write a book."

While this path is clear and could be easily followed, it doesn't match my interests. I make maps, and I really love making maps, and I don't want to get away from that.

Eventually, I began talking to other professional colleagues. Many of them sounded interested in participating in a similar experiment. I began nearly every conversation with: "I don't know what I'm going to do about it, but I'm going to start a geography revolution." When I spoke with Lou Cross, a colleague through a professional society, he was as excited as I was. He started rattling off ideas the minute I told him about it. That was over a month ago and still, I can barely get a word in. We finally had a chance to sit down and sketch out some ideas—over coffee, of course—in May, after the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) board meeting. mapgiving was born.

We don't know how the path will go, but we know that we are standing at Point A and we know what Point B is. We're doing what we love and writing it down to tell you about it, unsure of how we'll get there or what we will pass along the way.

C'mon follow us on our journey, get involved, and add some notes to the map while we go.

You don't need anything fancy to make your map, work with whatever you have to record your trip.

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