The Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) is doing more community mapping this month. It’s part of our work to get the information about what low income residents want in the DTES. Last month we did four informative and fun sessions at PACE. We also did sessions with the Carnegie Seniors and residents of the Jim Green building.
What is a mapping session like? First, everyone is welcomed and gets some snacks or a meal to eat. Usually about 8 to 12 people participate in one group. Then we put a huge sheet of paper on the table and Wendy asks: What is the most meaningful place in the DTES to you? People then start drawing their meaningful places on the blank “map.” We have lots of coloured felt pens for this and some people are great artists. Some don’t even want to draw their place so someone else will do it for them. No pressure. Then Wendy asks: “Why are the places meaningful?” And a note taker writes down all the answers. For example, at one of the PACE sessions a person said First United Church was a meaningful place to her because “They helped me. I had my dad’s memorial there. And they did advocacy fighting the ministry for schedule C…It’s a place where I have good feelings.” Another person said Carnegie because, “On Sundays they have free movies. I used to volunteer there and they gave you work and food and friendship and you meet new people there.” When everyone is done saying what their most meaningful places are, they get 3 dots to place on the places the most meaningful places that they and others have drawn.
Then Wendy asks: what is the best housing in the DTES? And the best place to get food? And we go through the process again. Then it’s time to bring out another blank “map” and we put the most dangerous or unsafe, unwelcoming places on. Lots of people put condos on this map. Then we ask what can be done to make those places safer and get some good ideas. And that’s it.
It’s fun, people bond together, and it gives us some info we need to fight for a low income friendly community.