Community mapping is a chance for us to mark places of importance that we may be unaware exist, for example sacred sites or community-based places. The process of community mapping is an approach that activates people to get directly involved in their own surrounding. It highlights the local assets (resources) and encourages the community to consider what it can achieve for itself, before seeking assistance elsewhere.
Speaking about Community Assets
We live in a world where assets (resources) are spread unevenly. We often refer to poor and rich areas. However, let’s remind ourselves that poverty is a man-made system. Who is poor and how it is define? Poverty is generally defined as “lacking resources”. But who defines what resources we need?
Living in a “poor village” people keep on reflecting back to you that you are indeed poor. This pulls you down and you feel weak, you are sad and don’t feel like doing anything. Living in an area that is “wealthy” (however that may be defined), you feel like the world is yours and you can do what you want.
Oscar Lewis was the anthropologist who first used the term culture of poverty to assert the theory that people born into poverty become adapted to poor mindsets. His theory was that those mindsets cause people in poverty to continue in poverty and pass it down generation after generation.
Imagine us shifting that thinking: Instead of thinking that we have needs and deficiencies, to rather believe that we are all rich in ideas, skills and capacities. Every village has many local assets that people can draw on: natural, social, material and knowledge-based resources.
In ABCD (Asset Based Community-driven Development), we look at the glass half full, not half empty. Where you look drives what you see. That’s why mapping the many assets in our community helps us visualize and become aware of the many treasures in our immediate surrounding.
To enable this positive mind-set, we need to make places, locations and networks more accessible. Social exclusion has a major impact on young people, especially for those in underprivileged areas. They don’t have access to the same resources as others and lack the opportunities and services to enable them to thrive. As a result, they feel that they cannot influence their community and society.
A local, community-driven map can be a tool to unlock barriers and make opportunities more accessible. Anyone new to the community or youth coming out of school can feel more encouraged to use this map knowing that it is by the people for the people. While Google Maps may offer a more complete and polished mapping experience with a wider range of data and features, this local community map shares open data and community contributions that makes it a more flexible and customizable platform so we can have more control over our data. It’s about participatory and democratic development that may shape our maps in authentic ways from the bottom up, without hidden costs or ownerships.
An illustration of how the map connects people and places (workshop in June 2022).
Against this background, we have initiated an open source community map that may encourage more people to connect to local places and people.
The map was developed and sponsored by Mapping For Change. We are so grateful for the massive support of Louise who shared her time and expertise with us along the way.
We also want to say thank you to the many people who have shaped this map, just to mention a few: Zoe Palmer, Claire Roussel, Zaid Philander and Candice Horn.
This map is an Open Source map and can be used by anyone who can benefit from it. Follow this link to find out more about the opportunities and functions behind this map.
Share new entries by clicking on “add contribution“.
Would you like to get involved?
This volunteer-driven map needs more people to get involved and share their locations. We encourage any interested persons to join the working group to drive this map.
Please message us now if you want to get involved.