March 13, 2011 Day 2 of Walking Home Projects Mapped Workshop



Review of Walking Home Projects’ Mapped: Youth Navigating DTES
Written by: Samantha Knopp

After a full day of discussion and experiential learning on Saturday March 12th, 2011, with Walking Home Projects Mapped: Youth Navigating the Downtown Eastside (DTES), many participants returned to 221A Artist Run Centre for the second half of this two-day workshop on Sunday, March 13th.  Armed with a deeper understanding of the area, and of mapping in general from the previous day’s work, it was time to put that knowledge onto paper and extend the conversation by creating our own maps of the area, which would be put on display at 221A Artist Run Centre.  This activity of map-making would not only serve to cement Saturday’s experience but would also give a unique documentation of each youth’s evolving perspective of the Downtown Eastside and of Vancouver as a whole.

Walking Home Projects' Mapped workshop participants busy creating at 221a Artist Run Centre (Photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

Sunday was a very relaxed and intimate learning experience spent mostly in the studio. Each participant was given one task: to create!  To harness our creative energy as a collective, a large communal worktable was set up in the centre of the gallery and a cache of artistic supplies, resources, and food were provided.  Even though I was leading this session as well, I was able to take a much more hands-off approach than Saturday.  In fact, the workshop was built to be a collaborative endeavour, with each participant giving the others feedback on their maps, taking turns as the day’s DJ, and helping curate and install the work for the exhibition.

Artist and Walking Home Projects Intern Samantha Knopp facilitating map making at 221a Artist Run Centre (Photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

After taking some time to speak with each participant in order to provide feedback on their map ideas, it was time to start making. Over the next several hours we worked together to make our own maps of the Downtown Eastside, which meant sharing glue sticks and sharpies but also good conversation and laughs.  Catherine Pulkinghorn, Walking Home Projects’ director, also joined us briefly in the afternoon to discuss our individual maps and join in the discussion.

Walking Home Projects' Director Catherine Pulkinghorn discusses each participant's map with them (Photo credit: Sam Knopp)

Many of the participants found it liberating to take an afternoon from our busy lives and schedules to be creative.  To visualize an idea, to experiment, and to make something with one’s hands is a luxury that we too seldom choose, and so even as our time was running out, people continued to work earnestly on their creations because the act of creating art was so enjoyable!  Finally, with only a half hour left, I had to force the group to finish their projects so that we could begin to decide on how the pieces would be displayed in Walking Home Projects’ exhibition.

The progress of one Participant's Map (Photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

The range of artistic abilities, experiences, and individual sensibilities created a diverse body of maps, which when taken together gave unique insight to the area.  Maps ranged from functional resource guides of the area (specific to youth) to more abstract depictions documenting very personal outlooks of the city. After learning about how to best display artwork in a professional setting, we hung our creations and did a quick wrap-up of the two days before saying our goodbyes.  As one of the main organizers and facilitators of this event, it was difficult to believe it was already over.  When I think of how much time went into the preparation and compare that to the time spent at the event itself, it seems ridiculously unbalanced!  Nonetheless, the experience was highly rewarding.  This event’s “for youth, by youth” implementation allowed for an empowering experience for both the facilitators (Maia and I) and the participants because the two days felt like a gathering of peers to hang out and learn from one another. Finally, I want to thank Walking Home Projects for supporting me in this endeavour and allowing me to organize and facilitate this event under their banner, and especially thank Catherine Pulkinghorn whose guidance and mentoring gave me the confidence and ability to do so.

Samantha Knopp


Participants of Walking Home Projects’Mapped: Youth Navigating the Downtown Eastside (DTES) had the opportunity to engaged in a critical discussion about mapping. Everyone was eager to join in the conversation and thus a large range of perspectives and ideas were explored, both before and after our two hour guided walk through the area.

Below is documentation of some of these discussions around mapping, transcribed from notes taken during the Saturday March 12th, 2011, session.

BEFORE THE WALK

What is important about walking?
-experience
-using the body
-having control
-cardio, exercise
-able to discover more little things along the side of the road
-getting your body moving
-tranquility
-taking in the scenery around oneself
-peacefulness
-time to think
-knowing one’s surroundings
-practical
-good shoes

What is important about storytelling?
-it takes creativity to tell a story
-it takes imagination
-it takes sharing
-storytelling is a journey
-it is how you can share an experience with someone else
-it is about being creative
-everything is a story
-stories can help tell and explain morals
-how to connect with people rather than directly telling them
-it helps form community and brings people together

Mapping – What comes to mind?
-destinations and how to get there
-patterns
-documentations of stories and geography (putting these different elements together)
-sense of direction
-shows you where to go
-drawing
-exploring
-conquerors and conquered
-Captain George Vancouver and a map of Vancouver
-each map tells a story and has its own ideas
-photography
-representing space
-topography
-taking something you don’t understand and putting it in front of you so you can understand it
-making the abstract understandable

AFTER THE WALK

What is mapping and what can maps be used for?
-documenting
-providing information
-locating oneself
-orientation
-bird’s eye view
-collage and montage are ways of mapping
-sharing relationships
-provide definitions and define our identity, society and community
-stream of thought
-visual cues of maps are grids, graphs, snapshots, information, facts
-maps are constructions
-storytelling
-direction
-perspective
-humans are so small compared to the world around us, so maps make the world more understandable, and our place in it, easier to situate ourselves
-planning
-making a map is to depict oneself
-making a map is to share your perspective, show a representation of oneself and details which are important to you
-is cartography an art or a science?
-power is given by a map depending on the perspective
-memory
-nostalgia
-collecting
-the typical “world map” is shifting from a frontal view with Europe at the centre to a view from above, over the Arctic because of global warming. This suggests the ideologies are shifting from nation states to a more global order of sorts. The view from above is an assessment tool in social policy, how the world changes, is biased, moves, should/could etc.
-maps simplify and make things more comprehensible
-sourced, a strategic planning
-strategy
-some maps provide a very logical version of the world or places yet they are always distorting or eliminating something to make this possible and thus that place is never fully represented. It is important then to not take maps as objective natural representations but merely as one perspective
-it is important to have many maps, many perspectives
-maps are subjective
-Anna Ruth’s maps are abstractions
-maps can be used to chart data and show very specific topic ex. Economics, social movements, crime etc.

Participants' maps installed at 221a Artist Run Centre (Photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)