Telling a story through maps

Image Esri Story Maps There are three different reasons why we use maps in today’s world: to determine a location, to navigate, and to examine spatial relationships. The third type of map, the kind used to look at spatial relationships, is the one we spend the most time on here at SCOPE. Why do we focus on spatial relationships? We’ve found that these maps tell a story about our community by creating a visual representation of data that is accessible for residents and community members to engage with.

In a recent blog post, John Calkins, a mapping expert at Esri says, “Even the best maps have no power by themselves; they just exist, like the maps you hang on your office wall, or the maps in the world atlas sitting on your bookshelf. But depending on how they are created, and how they are used, maps can have tremendous power.”

Check out this map of different types of community assets in Austin, Texas. What is the story that this map is telling?  Wouldn’t it be neat to create a map like this of your neighborhood, one that you could show to your neighbors?  Once you start identifying assets in your neighborhood, you might find that your neighbors know about other assets—ones that you had not even discovered yet. Mapping assets in your neighborhood can help build stronger connections between neighbors and their neighborhood, creating an even stronger sense of place.  Remember this blog post about asset mapping , something we spent time doing at the Asset-Based Community Development Workshop back in December? This technology can help residents create their own online asset maps.

Wordle Graphic Aspirations for Laurel

Last weekend we had the opportunity to spend some time engaging with residents of Laurel at the Sandra Sims Terry Laurel Civic Association Center (check out the photos here). We brought maps, we talked about community aspirations, and we listened to their stories. This is what Community Data 2.1 is all about: talking to the people of Sarasota County about the qualities of life that matter to them, what they would like to change, and use maps for storytelling.  Residents placed stickers on a big map of Laurel to locate where they live, where they work, where they volunteer, and where they play. We heard a lot about peoples’ aspirations for a more social, safe, and secure community.

What kind of community do you want to live in, and what would that look like on your story map?

We will be out and about this summer asking these questions of the people of Sarasota County at Community Data 2.1 Sessions and in Community Conversations. Contact Colleen at for more information or to get involved.