Friday, October 17, 2008

Geographic education

As part of the mission of mapgiving we would like to encourage everyone to become involved in geography and cartography. One of our current projects will be promoting the Barbara Petchenik Children's Map Competition. I am the national coordinator of the competition and will be collecting maps throughout the year to submit to the International Cartographic Association in the spring, the conference will be held in Santiago, Chile.

In addition to organizing the national competition, I would like to continue the discussion I began with the Library of Congress for the last competition to create a repository of all of the maps that are submitted from students throughout the United States.

For more information about the competition please contact me:

Here are the five maps selected from more than 100 submissions for the 2007 competition.

The last one...

Please feel free to download the third map produced during the kick-off event. We will be working with the client to make adjustments over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Asking questions...

It turns out that we have many more questions than answers at this point in the process. How do we start, who do we talk to? We started by contacting a patent lawyer, we will plan to speak with an accountant shortly and we are defining clearly and concisely what mapgiving is and what the mission is. We will share our lessons and bumps in the road as we progress through this process.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One of the print maps...

The larger scale print map can now be downloaded. The map showing the trail extension will be posted after a few tweaks.

I am reminded of how much I love these people...

In the whirlwind of mapgiving, the planning, the production, the enormously excited reception that we had, and then the busy days of the conference following the event, I did not have time to really think about what had happened.

As things begin to settle in Madison, and I return to my daily tasks, I've had some time to process the events of the past week and several months. We have asked the Wayfinders to provide some feedback about their experience and how they see the organization of mapgiving growing and formalizing from this point. We are just beginning to read through these comments, and reliving the event through their words fills my heart. We really have something here and we will spend the next couple of weeks asking questions, and finding answers. The company where I work, XNR Productions, is extremely supportive of this mission and is supporting me in this exploration process. I couldn't be happier to have such a supportive network of people, through NACIS, XNR and the amazing group of people who participated in the kick-off event and those who have expressed interest in furthering the mission of mapgiving. The mission of cartographic and geographic education, collaboration and communication.

Web team map

To see the web team map, visit mapgiving. The print maps will be on display later today.

the Wayfinders speak...

Nick Springer of Springer Cartographics talks of his experience.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Local coverage of the mapgiving kick-off

The Missoulian Newspaper, on-line and print showed up to cover the event...see the video.

A few favorites from the later hours...

Notice the celebration of Nick and Jim finishing their tasks. Also, notice the smirk on Jeremy's face. He knows he has hours of work left to complete.

Brandon, heckling the participants...and trying to help.

Everyone is hard at work!

What is that?

Astounding data issues...5 layers of this lake, and none of them line up properly.


Lou had enough mapping and decided to nap on the map twister.

A brief glimpse of one of the print team maps.

And...that's a wrap

We are done...well, almost. Jeremy is still programming and there are few tweaks to be made tomorrow before the presentation, but the maps look good and we are impressed with the teamwork that we witnessed and the dedication to the project. We leave this event feeling very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have worked so closely with this amazing group of people.

Thank you for following the kick-off event,
Lou and Tanya

Working... Working...

We are just so impressed with the commitment and the determination for making a great map that the wayfinders continue to exhibit. The music is back on, and everyone is working so very hard...

WARNING: using the word FINAL in a filename...can be very dangerous

Web team: "We have just named our file 'web based' and we're handing-it-off to the Jeremy (after we increase the symbol representation for the roads"...

Phrases such as "sweet casings" and "I love the cake" have preceded....the "I think we're done"...

we say... "YOU'RE DONE?!"

they say... "well Jeremy is not done..."

web: almost ready for the hand-off

checking in with the web team and Nick confirms that they are almost ready to hand-off the basemap to Jeremy who will integrate the map with the interface. There are smiles and chuckles, from the boys on the web side...Jeremy is a very patient mapgiver.

Donna is providing local reference for some of the print wayfinders..."it is highway 18" she says.

ping-pong balls are being tossed about...second (or maybe third wind for some) settling in.

I don't like the wasabi crakers...but Donna and Tanya do. David is smart NOT to try them.

Hair envy...and victory

It's amazing Neil Allen's hair is just as loft and perfect as when he arrived at 3pm yesterday. As we beckon for more caffeine, I have just won and unprecedented 'rock-paper-scissors' battle with Donna over who will make the next pot of joe. My scissors best her paper after 10 rounds...

What's your vector, victor?

Tanya has finished the road digitization for the incomplete sements and is handing the layer off to Martha who will then prepare it for Nat, who will "make it purty"... David is working on north arrows and scale bars.

The trail will take you there...yes, it has.

hitting the wall

Runners tell the tale (I only run when chased, by something larger and with sharper teeth than me)...of getting to the point in a marathon where they hit the wall...all the excitement and enthusiasm has given way to 3-second blinks and serious looks on faces. We have realized that we have but 4 hours left in this mapgiving...the music has faded and tasks are now being refined...the chorus of now is hushed voices, rapid mouse clicks, deep exhales, and Tanya's voice now conducting this murder of crows.

A like the economy... the print team needs a bailout

So, the print team has a need for digitizing roads...Tanya has declared this a state of mapgiving emergency and has stepped in to take this task on so that the other wayfinders can stay on task.

the veep tweets...

Brandon Plewe Professor of Geography at Brigham Young University is also the NACIS vice-president and has served as our resident spectator since very early in the process. He has now started to tweet (excuse you) follow along if you want a update on the mapgiving playlist or whatever else he is heckling us about.

he is bplewe...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What to do?

Web: Where's our data?

Print: How do solve the data questions? Changing gears???

Map status

map layers are being worked on independent of each other...

Neil is working on water
Nick R. is all about the roads
David has the neighborhoods ready to go
Ginny is workin' on the shoreline
Martha is adding proposed trails
Glen is knee deep in the water too
Nat went out for a breath of fresh air and came back with novel concept for next year*
Jim is keeping Nick S. focused
Nick Springer is wondering...
Jeremy fails to respond because he is in his own little world of code and headbobbin' to some groovy tunes
Donna has a case of the tweets

* next year Nat proposes that we do maptaking - instead of creating a new map for non-profits, let's take an open source map product and turn it into a hideous commercial map product. Nice.

Glen guilds the Illy

Glen has taken the lead of the master Illustrator file, after running into many holes in the data. Too many to continue with the original plan. Meanwhile, the web team grows anxious while waiting for the print team to develop a solution.

didn't drink the kool-aid

Margaret, while intrigued by the project she has not accepted the t-shirt and therefore departed to places unknown. Thanks for stopping by. We still love you Margaret. xo

I'm a PC...I'm a Mac...

Mac folks using PCs...PC folks using's chaos! Computer swapping...focus...WOW!

it's all about the interface...

Update from the web team - Nick Springer confirms that "we're working on the interface" - and in the corner...code is being written...just look at the intense concentration on Jeremy's face... Nat Case and Jim Meacham are sorting the points of interest (in mapspeak that's "POI")...

I love these people...LOVE THEM!

I am amazed by how hard everyone is working...the ideas, the collaboration...FANTASTIC!

and now 11...

Margaret Pearce, Assistant Professor of Geography at Ohio University has sat down at the web team table. It's catching on... and the only prescription is more giving! we're going to need a few more seats at the presentation table tomorrow night...

Gurgling coffee pot...second 12 cup pot has just finished brewing... the aroma is divine - Thanks Donna!

Map progress!

The print team has decided on a scale and the dimension.

Scale: 1:11K
Dimension: 14 x 26 (revised)
Fold: accordion fold

...and then there were 10

So, one of our friends and long-time NACIS members, Jim Meacham (director of the University of Oregon's InfoGraphics Lab) who we had originally approached to join us as a wayfinder (and wasn't sure he was going to be able to make it) has arrived and moved from the audience to the web team. Welcome Jim!

It's like catching a fever - you just can't sit by and watch! We are loving the enthusiasm and all the creative juice that is overflowing!

refueling...and picking up a few other generous map lovers along the way

So, here we are...working...and the audible stomach growling was getting in the way of the creative process. What is the go to food and drink combo for late night production? Pizza and soda of course. So a special thank you to a few of our colleagues that have joined us tonight that have provided support for tonight's event. Jenn Milyko part of the NACIS 2008 local arrangement team from Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) here in Missoula, suggested "The Bridge" for pizza... She and Chris Anderson from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Florida, picked up the delicious pies. Donna Genzmer from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM) has been our coffee and ice water maven tonight keeping us caffeinated and well hydrated. Susan Peschel, also hailing from UWM, and our NACIS business manager, has also provided a wake up call for one of our emergency nappers (Martha!) and is, as always willing to lend a hand with a lot of love for the team and the mapgiving effort...Joined by Jenny Marie Johnson, Map & Geography Librarian at University of Illinois, in a room nearby, they're assembling the various conference related necessities for tomorrow's morning rush on the registration table. Thank you all!

Donna and the joe...

Jenn and Chris with the pie

Susan and Jenny

UPDATE: Pizza arrives...and whoa! we forgot tables...for the food. So, the audience gives up their seats...

thigh-high buffet

in case you're wondering...the teams are hard at work while they devour the pizza...VERY HARD at work.

The project

The teams come together...

Coordination begins...will we have one team by the end of the night?

Tweet, tweet... follow along on Twitter...

Follow the Wayfinders on Twitter as they attack this mapping task.

Glen: macmapman
Nick R.:
Lou: LouCross
Tanya: tanmabuck
Nancy: nancyaten

We will update this list as the Wayfinders sign up.

Conference call...

We're on the conference call with Nancy and Bob. They're briefing us on the background of the trail and the present day state of the area. We've got a few familiar faces in the audience too...and some other folks that have stopped by to check it out...

9 of 9

Both teams full strength...Nat Case is here!

8 of 9

Neil Allen has arrived...the print team is here!

Um...the web team...where are they.


one of the many ways to keep busy when not being tasked with the map - we've got a few distractions like...mapTangle (Twister's cartographic cousin).

7 of 9

David Barnes is here too!

6 of 9

Ginny Mason is here!

i can't keep up...

Right now...this is what I'm doing:

• blogging (posting a blog...which has come out as blosting a few times, I am blosting about kick-off)
• on phone with Wayfinder shuttle (Lou)
• informing Wayfinders of the days logistics
• finishing data prep—yes, this is still going on
• trying to figure out why blogger won't allow me to post images
• getting geocoded data from Bill (thank you, thank you)
• trying to remember the 15 other things I wanted to get done in the next 45 minutes

Thank you Wayfinders!

Everyone who has agreed to be a Wayfinder is making some big sacrifices to be here early, to give up on much needed rest before multiple days of intense map talk. We wanted to be sure they were all well cared for. In their goody bags, we have included some mini cliff bars, some sort of chocolaty treat, a t-shirt, special name tags that will show their commitment as Wayfinders throughout the conference and an "i love maps" button.

5 of 9

Nick Springer is here! A little weary and definitely hungry.

4 of 9

Glen Pawelski has arrived, turns out he was on a flight with nearly half the conference (well, a few of them anyway)!

shuttle calling base station

Lou is on his way to the hotel with a van full of Wayfinders and other NACIS attendees.

beyond the 9

Bill Buckingham of the UW-Madison Applied Population Laboratory is our remote data prep volunteer. He is geocoding the points of interest along the trail for us prior to the Wayfinders showing up for production.

3 of 9

Martha Bostwick has just stopped by.

2 of 9

Jeremy White is on the ground. He just stopped by to pick up his bag of goodies.

1 of 9

Nick Ramirez has arrived... we're wondering where Martha Bostwick is... it's raining today - good thing the kick-off is inside today.

Check-ch-check-check-check-ch-check it out

Thanks to the Beastie Boys, another stop at Break Espresso this morning and a whole lot of excitement, the Madison Room at the Holiday Inn is bursting with energy. Just waiting for the Wayfinders now.

It's really happening...

The trail, part 2

A little more about the trail, from the client.

The area has been a historic gathering place, lush marshland, and vast natural resource. From the mid-1800s to the 1920s, it had also become the industrial center for the city, employing tens of thousands of workers from vibrant neighborhoods on the surrounding bluffs. During the second half of the 20th century, its economic position declined. The once-vibrant natural ecosystems and then vital industrial center became a large expanse of devastatingly altered land, contamination, and vacant buildings.

As conceived, this trail would be much different from other state parks and trails typically preserving an area of obvious natural beauty; this trail would be located on the state’s largest brownfield--importantly, within a 15 minute bike ride of over 400,000 residents.

Today, broadening the vision inspired by the trail, the area is in the midst of an ecological and economic resurgence. Quality jobs are being created close to those in need, with buildings built and operated with sustainable practices. Environmental quality has improved dramatically, the river is once again the heart of the community and wildlife is increasing. Hundreds of people participate each year in planning and stewardship activities, creating an extraordinary sense of community ownership.

I know that we can seem gushy and mushy; we care a lot, and we like to emphasize the positives. Part of this is because of needing to transmit optimism because there has been a vast amount of historic (and even some in more recent years) negative attitude to this place – some earned, some simply not deserved. Part of this is to support our own need to be persistent to an extreme in the real world of trying to get anything good done. Part of this is because there really are amazingly wonderful parts of the project that we want everyone to know.

Something on my mind all the time… is attention to detail and concern for getting to a critical mass of "cared for". It is the nature of brownfield remediation and building trails and restoring native landscapes and cleaning up rivers that they have a rough first several years, and people don't like how they look (even when formerly brownfield). I know that those of us who are in the place all the time sometimes miss an eye for perceived problems... our rose-colored lenses are pretty good at tuning them out. I get so used to my work space under the viaduct and the dust that I can forget how it seems to others. So I know people new to the site have responses that I may have forgotten how to predict. And it is a fine line between fighting against what my friend lorrie otto (an elder in the environmental community) calls "the tyranny of the tidy mind" that wants concrete and turf and expressing enough beauty to let people love a place (a kind of place and a kind of beauty unfamiliar to most people) and learn its health. We emphasize our own kind of beauty, including the spotted eggs in a ground nest, the reflection of the viaduct when it rains, a particularly gorgeous leaf, artist glass panels, kids on bikes, fisherpeople in waders in this urban river, employees in the city having greenspace for a lunchtime walk, return of leopard frogs, a dance performance in the wetlands. Your mapgiving project can help give us a large boost in the critical mass of "cared for"... beauty and detail and function and helpfulness and communication and story-telling, with complete respect for the context… helping reveal the latent potential and beauty of this complex urban place.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The trail, part 1

We asked our client to give us a little more information about the trail and how the map will be put to use. Please read part one of the history of this great space and the mission.

Our place and our project…has involved a few giant leaps of faith in the last decade. We have kept at it by, essentially, telling stories. This has been crucial in slowly building civic and community support and collaboration. Now we have a trail (first half) within a 15 minute bike ride of over 400,000 people, many in economically challenged neighborhoods underserved by green space, by transportation options, by family-supporting-wage jobs, and by a healthy environment. (One of the first big steps in this larger project was the research and documentation by a local community health center connecting constituent health problems with environmental health of the river and the air in our communities).

And yet… our trail and its environs is still a secret to many, or has longstanding perceptions that keep people away. (At one meeting in summer of 2006, city officials were shown a recent projected image of the park from the viaduct looking west down onto the river, restored banks looking green and healthy, the river looking its sparkling best… and an alderperson asked which river that was… mostly, I think, because the thought of it being our river was out of their realm of possibilities).

We know that continuing to tell stories, and sharing the love, is how we reach the community and trail users, how we engage stewards, how we persuade funders, and how we inspire equally challenging projects in other cities. You, mapgiving, can enrich the stories, tell them more effectively, and reach people more effectively. And with a big trail extension in the works that doubles the length of the trail and will finally connect to the state trail network really effectively… we’ve got an even bigger story to tell.

This trail was just a gleam in people's eyes for many years. We’ve got a ways to go, but already the trail is actively used by commuters, kids, families, runners, employees on lunch breaks, and school classes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Advance team checking it out...

Finally here in Missoula...and since it was raining today, I decided to skip the flyfishing and get a jump start on the logistics on-site. This evening at Break Espresso - refueled by a few cups of coffee (necessary conditioning for Tuesday's kick-off) and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, Tanya and I met and have made a few more lists of to-dos, and to-don't-forgets so we are ready for the other wayfinders to arrive on Tuesday. We found a great cache of organic chocolates, fruits and nuts at the Good Food Store down the street. Once we confirm coffee supply, we should be well stocked for the event. It's no surprise that when surveyed as to what fuel they would prefer for the span of the 12 hours nearly everyone requested chocolate and coffee...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

46.8682N 113.9938W

After planning for so long, and anticipating this kick-off event, it is hard to believe that I am finally in Missoula.
I began my trip with a climb up UM's M. The weather is and breezy, as I was hiking the trail, I could see the clouds and rain coming in from the southwest and knew I would be soaked by the end of my excursion. Check out more photos.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We have more data!

Thanks to the kind folks managing this amazing set of data, we should have more than enough information to supply our teams with everything they need to complete their tasks.

Sifting and sorting now. How do you prepare hundreds of megabytes of data and months of communication with a client for 10 people who have 12 hours to complete an advanced task of mapping, when they haven't seen any of the information?