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Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy

Gerrymandering - creating the maps of politics

With the 2010 Census behind us, political districts of all levels across the United States are being redrawn.  Gerrymandering - the process of creating political districts to give extra power or take away power from a certain group of people, usually on the basis of race or class - has been going on in the United States since our earliest history.  The Economist recently published a nice overview article of the history and challenges of drawing fair political maps.  We've also looked before at the Illinois Fair Map Amendment and its impact on political districting here in Illinois.

NPO Mapping Case Study: Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living

regional map of illinois centers for independent livingThe Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living is a statewide coalition of the 23 regional centers for independent living (CIL) that serve Illinoisans with disabilities.  CILs promote full and equal access to our communities for those residents and visitors with disabilities.  The mission of INCIL is to help these regional centers share resources and collaborate on statewide issues such as funding and advocacy.

Accessibility Map Project - Geneva

The project invites "groups of people on the fringe of society to express their experiences and opinions through face-to-face meetings and mobile phones."  They've worked on some very cool projects but I'm most impressed with their urban accessibility maps (thanks to Urban Tick for the link).

The Geneva and Barcelona accessibility maps were created by giving GPS-enabled camera phones to people using wheelchairs.  Over a 6-month period, the mapmakers documented inaccessible barriers around their respective cities - each barrier was photographed and placed automatically on a mashup.  Common barriers include stairways, inaccessible curbs, escalators, broken elevators, etc.

News Maps: Unauthorized Immigrants and Gulf Oil Spill

screenshot of washington post immigration mapTwo prominent uses of maps as visual aids in news stories late this week - first up, the Washington Post's state-by-state map of "unauthorized immigrants as a percentage of state population."  Based on 2008 data, the map also includes a chart showing the estimated increase of this percentage in Arizona over the past 20 years.  

Resources for Mapping Race-Related Data for Public Interest

Legal Services of Northern California maintains a special program called the Race Equity Project, which helps provide resources for those engaged in race-related advocacy efforts.  As major users of GIS in their advocacy efforts, the REP has a great page of related resources for mapmaking.

Fair Political District Maps for Illinois

logo for the Illinois Fair Map InitiativeMaps are powerful and important!  That's the caption of a slide in my standard "GIS for nonprofits" presentation, right around the part where I'm trying to teach why nonprofit organizations should care about maps.  Maps aren't always used just to illustrate historical statistics or last year's data - they can also be used to visualize future plans and activities for our communities and our world... with both positive and negative implications.  That's why I think the Illinois Fair Map Initiative's Fair Map Amendment is such an important issue.