Maps are not innocent.Colonial powers mapped territories to divvy up and enslave parts of the planet. We are still recovering from these violent projects. Mapmakers can possess super-human powers. They can use this power for harm or for good. A city is never in one place. Public and private flows of capital shape our borders. Some city maps direct flows of visitors to eat, shop and be entertained. The icons on these maps are shoes, lamps, martini glasses, rings and gifts. But what are the icons for alivable neighborhood? Can our maps dance between the lines of visibility and invisibility? Can we use real estate as a point of resistance, re-appropriation, re-imagining? How do we map our overlapping uses of space? Can making maps resolve tensions and lead to positive change?
City maps show general land use plans for each district. But our maps will spatialize memory, fears, aspirations, movements, tamales. As Brooklyn maps and is mapped, what shape will it take? Will it become more or less livable? Will there be more or less violence? More or less green space? More or less asthma? More or less trash? More or less pizza? We will make new maps. And together we will map our future.
Adriana is a community cartographer, under-utilized space modifier, and urban lifestyle researcher. She teaches a course about the suburbanization of NYC at the Parsons School of Design and is the Research Director for CAPITAL B.