diving right into participatory mapping

A recent blog entry by my friend Meg Stewart reminded me of the work that Aly DeGraff is doing in the Grenadines.  I remember hearing about Aly a few years ago. We both went to Middlebury College (go Panthers!), where colleagues of mine in the geography department talked about her skills and motivation as she went through her years there.

Aly is now finishing up her year-long program of participatory mapping in the Grenadines.  After catching up on her blog entries, I just have to say that I’m really impressed with the focus, professionalism, and confidence with which she’s pursuing this work. I haven’t done much mapping of this type myself, but my little forays as part of projects and workshops over the years have clearly shown me that one must accept the process even more than the product as a metric of success.  I also know that I *never* could have done this type of work on my own at that age, even with the help of a mentor.  Kudos to the Compton Foundation for funding these projects.  Go, Aly, go!

Projects like these also remind me of geodesign processes, which I’ve thought a lot more about in the last year since I helped to edit Carl Steinitz’s forthcoming Esri Press book on A Framework for Geodesign.  Participation from “the people of the place” are a defining characteristic of geodesign, and how that’s implemented looks different in every situation. The case studies in Carl’s book range along a spectrum of size and scale, but all involved larger support teams than Aly’s work.  Another reason which I find her progress so enjoyable and remarkable.

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