Friday, May 23, 2008

topophilia :::::::::::::::: a love of place

The New Orleans mashup for Citizen Monitoring of the Recovery is really gaining momentum. Yesterday as it bucketed with rain, Alan Gutierrez and I had long and productive phone conversations with three of our partners: Denice Warren Ross of the GNOCDC, Andrew Turner of Mapufacture and Karen Gadbois of Squandered Heritage. In the in-between-time, Alan met with the Neighborhood Coworking Project and I created a slideshow of a few of my favorite .

But back to the conversations:

New Orleans is a ripe or fertile environment for mapping. - Denice Warren Ross

No one knows this better than GNOCDC. In 1997 the Greater New Orleans Data Center was founded to democratize information from administrative data sets. The GNOCDC is offering us a wealth of wisdom gained through their years of experience. How to actually use this medium to create a map with context: one that tells a story. How to design a product for a specific audience with a specific purpose and then test it in the field.
The GNOCDC methodology includes field usability testing for mapping systems. While they will not be supplying us with data, they are offering us the use of some of their seminal maps, especially the Neighborhood Boundaries Map and the Planning Districts Map. Their support of this project provides us with a strong foundation. Thank you, Denise.

Mapufacture provides dynamic, customizable geographic information and collaborative mapping. - Andrew Turner

Andrew is the project engineer on our team. Two days ago, I posted in the GIS Forum a recipe for a demo map for us to help us tell the story of the plight of the public schools in New Orleans. And just 3 hours later, Andrew had presented us with a preliminary mashup of various data set with the School Facilties Master Plan building reports. This is a work in progress. The ultimate product should incorporate from on a historic basemap. I can't say thanks enough, Andrew.

Dead House Walking - Karen Gadbois

Karen and I talked at length last night about her story. She began Squandered Heritage in April of 2006 after returning home. Her neighborhood lost a significant block of houses to fire. Pritchard Place at South Carrollton. Can we all put our heads together and conjure up that memory? I know I've tried. Karen tried. She went searching for photos and could turn up no visual archive.
So Squandered Heritage began as a Memory Project. Which is a lot. But it's become much more. It started as place to visually document the memory of buildings. And as the stories of the buildings got told, it became more focussed on the various plights of the people who have . We are all indebted to Karen for continuing to fight, for continuing to keep us informed. For her diligence and dedication to the defense of New Orleans culture, our varied architectural heritage and the preservation of our neighborhood communities.

We all saw those 24 pages of addresses of houses to be demolished that was published in the Times-Picayune in the summer of 2007. I sat and stared at that paper. Gutted. I've spent years developing a New Orleans Virtual Archive (coming soon... coming soon). But my collection is based heavily in the 19th century city, the sliver by the river, the aisle of denial. We got that documented. But what about the other 80% that sat under water? What I could I do? How does one begin to tackle that scale of a documentation project? The scope of loss was Unfathomable. But while I sat frozen at the kitchen table, Karen started working. She is an absolute inspiration to me. Her success gave me the confidence to attempt to document . Muchas muchas gracias.

Now for a shout out for that Times-Picayune insert. If anyone has it, please please please let me borrow it and scan it. I would really like to take it to netSquared. It's a perfect artifact to help tell our story.

1 comment:

Megan Lubaszka said...

Hey - this is a really interesting site:

It combines a map with real estate listings and places photos of the most expensive and least expensive properties in a city. I first looked it in New York and Los Angeles, but then the New Orleans one really expressed such a huge gap between the classes. Its also extremely compelling graphically.

Here is the blog post the company wrote to explain it: