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Public Lab Wiki documentation



Advocacy with Maps

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Mapping offers a way to share and create knowledge about a place. Making a map to document and describe a local issue is often a helpful first step in community science because it can be done collaboratively, represent all kinds of information—from environmental pollution to cultural resources—and show what people close to the issue already know.

Maps are a helpful communication tool in community organizing and advocacy, and you might want to create a map for specific purposes or to communicate with specific people. On this wiki page, we’re collecting some of the different ways that you can take action with maps.

And while thinking about goals for mapping, we can also understand that the process of mapping and the map created represent much more than a communication tool for a specific purpose. Making a map builds a connection to a place! And even with a purpose in mind, a map might start off documenting a location and showing neighbors what’s there, while ending up being used as a tool to communicate with governments and change policies that affect many more people.

Follow along and get updates on this topic by following advocacy-with-maps

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Please add to these resources by editing this page, adding and answering questions below, or adding your own activity or story!

Lead image: infrared balloon mapping image of the Gowanus Canal, from this post by @liz

On this page you'll find:

Getting started activities

It can be helpful to start a mapping project by thinking and talking about what you want to make a map of, why you want to map a particular place, and who the map will be for. What new information do you wish to provide with a map?

The resources and activities below offer some ways to get started with answering these questions before you start gathering equipment and tools for mapping.


Defining advocacy goals

For any community science project, it helps to start with determining your goals. This will help you figure out which smaller steps to take to achieve your goals—in the case of mapping, your goals might influence whether you capture your own aerial images to make a map or use existing maps to build upon.

Posts tagged with start-advocacy will appear here




Below in the section called “Using your maps and aerial images,” you’ll find more information on using maps for specific purposes or audiences.


Figuring out where to map

If you can, visit the site or talk to people who live there. If you plan to do balloon or kite mapping, look for potential sites to launch or fly from, and check wind and weather patterns at the site.

Posts tagged with where-to-map will appear here




How to choose a mapping tool

How to decide on a tool for mapping: for capturing your own aerial images, this activity includes information on open DIY methods for balloon, kite, and pole mapping, and when each tool works best and their limitations.

If you’d like to use existing maps and digital tools to create maps, rather than capturing your own aerial images, check out the section called "Other ways to map" below.


Tools and methods for DIY mapping

Aerial photography

The wiki pages and posts listed here are rich resources on how to capture your own aerial images of a place. By capturing your own aerial images, you get the most current information on the exact location you’re interested in.

kite
Aerial photography wiki

Organizes information on balloon mapping, kite mapping, and pole mapping, as well as activities and questions on aerial photography. Within the balloon, kite, and pole mapping wikis, you’ll find information on how to assemble and use these different mapping tools.

balloon mapping
How to map wiki

Written as a workshop, this wiki describes 3 activities that’ll get you mapping: 1) decide on which type of mapping you will do, 2) prepare your mapping materials, and 3) go map!

MapKnitter
MapKnitter wiki

Information on MapKnitter.org, Public Lab’s free and open source software tool for combining several aerial images into a map that you can view online and print.

balloon mapping
Host a balloon mapping workshop

Map with other people! This activity outlines how to get people together to map.


Other ways to map

You can also use existing open or publicly available maps if you don’t want or need to capture your own aerial images.



Using your maps and aerial images

You might want to use your maps for specific purposes or to communicate with specific people. To help illustrate some of the many ways maps can be used for advocacy, we highlight some of the different ways that maps can be used below.

While thinking about goals for mapping, we can also understand that the process of mapping and the map created represent much more than a communication tool for a single purpose. Making a map builds a connection to a place. And even with a purpose in mind, a map might start off documenting a location and showing neighbors what’s there, while ending up being used as a tool to communicate with governments and change policies that affect many more people.


General information on advocacy and maps

Wetlands advocacy wiki: this wiki is part of the Wetlands Toolkit, but outlines a workshop and general information on some different advocacy goals and the ways that community-collected aerial maps can support those goals.


Annotating maps

Putting words, arrows, and drawings on a map can help explain and illuminate what the map shows.

How to make your own community annotated map!: a step-by-step activity on making annotated maps by @julia_e_masters.

See what’s tagged with annotated-maps on Public Lab here: https://publiclab.org/tag/annotated-maps


Bayou Manchac annotated map

Image: annotated map of Bayou Manchac sewerage problem, from this post by @eustatic


Maps to guide environmental monitoring and study design

Examples:

H2S map BH2S map C

Images from this research note by @ewilder, showing an aerial map of locations where photopaper is darkened by hydrogen sulfide.


Maps to raise awareness or start a campaign

Examples:


Maps to tell a story about or understand a place

Examples:

TIDES ecological survey

Image: a form of pole-mapping to capture images of rocky intertidal shorelines for the TIDES project, described in this post by @RosaL


Maps for communicating with or reporting to government agencies and representatives

Examples:


Maps as evidence

Examples:


gowanus dye tracing

Image: balloon mapping water flow in the Gowanus Canal with the help of red food dye, from a comment in this post by @eymund


Activities

Activities on Public Lab tagged with activity:advocacy-with-maps will appear here

Add an activity  or request an activity guide you don't see listed

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.


Questions

Questions tagged with question:advocacy-with-maps will appear here

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Additional references and resources