Making Maps that Make a Difference

Freyja Knapp
Thursday, January 11, 2007

A citizens' guide to making and using maps for advocacy work

From the introduction:

The purpose of this guide is to introduce the power and process of mapping for communities facing destructive development projects.

Making Maps guide

Mapping refers to any process that visually displays information at its location. The perspective could be looking directly down at farm areas, at a vertical slice along a riverbed, or at an angle to the landscape as if flying overhead. Each perspective communicates a different feel and understanding of the data represented. The common factor between them, however, is that they all highlight a particular aspect of the community or region and illustrate this aspect in a way that transcends language.

This guide is organized by the basic questions one would ask in any investigation: who, what, when, why, where, and how. These basic investigative queries are reorganized to address mapping your community and surrounding landscape. 

We begin with why and illustrate the significance of incorporating mapping into a campaign. Next, we discuss how to create maps by collecting data and generating basic maps. After that, we provide some ideas of what information a community might map. Next, we discuss the basics of where that information or data should be mapped, that is, at what scale it should be mapped. Our last investigative question is who supplies the data, or what sources can be utilized to get spatial information. 

We finish the guide with information about utilizing maps in a campaign. There are checklists and ideas about how to incorporate these powerful visuals into a political or social movement. This guide is intended to spark creative thinking about how maps are used in communities facing large development projects.

Download the guide