3cs in Chicago (part 1)

Liz and Tim are in Chicago giving a series of mapping workshops and making contact with some of our collaborators up there…

Thursday night (Feb. 11) we trudged through the cold and ice through Pilsen neighborhood to a community center called Biblioteca Popular (formerly Lichen). We talked to a crowd of 20-30 map-makers and activists about our work as 3Cs and about the newly-released edu-factory book, and gave a mini mapping tutorial with an intro to free GIS data-sources and software.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for our work and for map-making in general, and it was neat to hear all the different projects folks were involved in (sound maps of Chicago neighborhoods, mapping the displacement of poor folk through gentrification, folks from Area Chicago and their web-mapping ideas, mapping anti-militarization and the university). Folks also asked some really useful critical questions:

  • One big point of discussion was how to deal with the embedded biopolitics behind data sources like US Census data that we use in our maps — as 3Cs, we often talk about how we ‘queer’ data or statistics by pulling map stories out of them that they weren’t intended for. But data sources often come so tightly bound up with state politics, white supremacist racial policies, definitions of family structure, etc., that queering them might require more conscious work than we always put in.
  • Some folks also asked whether we’ve engaged with historical examples of indigeneous counter-mapping, suggesting that we might find some useful inspirations and ideas there
  • There was also a long discussion of the idea of “using the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house”, and whether we were also focusing enough on spreading knowledge of map-making to communities that haven’t had access to the tools. It made us realize that we should actually do some grassroots map-making workshops (something we’ve talked about doing for a long time but never actually organized…)

Here are some of the links to online mapping services we showed:

  • City of Chicago GIS — great source for property data, also for mapping police stations, parks, water mains, etc.
  • Geocommons Finder and Maker — Geocommons finder is  searchable online library of GIS data that anyone can upload to. Then you can bring layers into Geocommons Maker and design your own maps (here’s the sample one we showed at the workshop).
  • Trulia hindsight (hindsight.trulia.com) and snapshot.trulia.com for more generalized real estate data
  • National Atlas and OpenStreetMaps for basic physical/infrastructure data
  • USDA Food environment atlas
  • Chicago region GIS clearinghouse
  • http://opensourcegis.org/ for open-source GIS tools. Particularly recommend JUMP, uDig and QuantumGIS

One response on “3cs in Chicago (part 1)

  1. dan mcquillan


    where would i find out more about the ‘queering’ of data? those issues seem central (and ignored) in the huge open gov data project, which has just gone up a gear here in the UK (e.g. ‘A letter from Prime Minister David Cameron to Government departments on plans to open up Government data’ http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/statements-and-articles/2010/05/letter-to-government-departments-on-opening-up-data-51204).

    in terms of grass-roots map making, you might be interested in Open Maps Caucasus http://www.openmapscaucasus.org/ – i met a couple of them in tbilisi recently, and they told me about the projects they were doing with villagers from rural areas, soumded really positive.