Using Community Mapping as a Tool

Community mapping is a great way to recognize assets in any community. www.rudi.net

Community mapping is a great way to recognize assets in any community. http://www.rudi.net

Community mapping is a growing field in which community members mark out different assets their community has. There is an endless list of mappable assets- parks, restaurants, parking lots, bus stops, supermarkets, bars, etc. In addition, community mappers are using information from government surveys such as the census to garner more information on different neighborhood locations. The census data can provide anything from median household income to race populations. The University of Chicago has set out to use community mapping to mark the differences between neighborhoods around the city. The project is funded by the university medical center’s Urban Health Initiative. The students involved are currently conducting surveys that mark vacant storefronts, fast food restaurants, and markets with fresh fruits and vegetables. The data is brought back to a database and will be presented to show the discrepancies between Chicago’s “celebrated Hyde Park” and Woodlawn neighborhoods.

Some in Woodlawn hope the collaboration with the university is a first step toward bringing new prosperity to the neighborhood.

“You have to have that type of mapping in order to make intelligent decisions on what the community needs,” said Rev. Byron Brazier, pastor of Woodlawn’s Apostolic Church of God.

Brazier, whose church has thousands of members and has called Woodlawn home since 1952, supports the mapping project because its findings will be shared with community members who, he said, are deeply interested in the future.

“There’s a lot of activity going on and [the university] and the community are together in its planning,” said Brazier, whose father, Arthur, Apostolic’s retired longtime leader, is working with the U. of C. to improve education in the neighborhood’s nine elementary schools.

For more information regarding this project, see the article drawn from the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-resource_mapping-city-zone-2jul22,0,556875.story. All material was drawn from the Tribune article.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, VERTICES LLC

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