Kassie will give me crap for putting this up, because she’s who I told about it first.
Anyway, here we go. So when I was in NYC something hit me about how we perceive place. Much like my post from Wilmington about “over there’s and right here’s” let’s take that a step further and think about how we actually learn about place and perceive place. Outside of where we live immediately, we generally learn about other places or other cities by looking at maps. I love maps! I mean hell, I won the 6th grade geography bee. Maps reveal arrangement of civilizations over vast stretches of the earth. It’s a way of breaking down these enormous places and puts them into metrics that we can understand. If we know 1 inch equals 5 miles, well then you have some where to start from.
When we learn about places outside of our home territory we use these maps. While there are attempts to put place in to context through history and social commentary, I feel like our minds generally wrap themselves around the physical nature of other places. We see the yellow street grid, we see the green parks, we see the blue waters, and gray building markers. We might even think that all of those labeling words are literally on the ground as well. But what is the biggest thing missing from maps?
It’s an amazing feeling when you go to a place that on a map is this inconsequential, mundane, just-like-every-other-one street corner. But then you are actually there, on that street corner and there is AMAZING life happening, street performers, children and their parents playing, businessmen walking from place to place, Frisbee throwing, sun-bathing. It’s not until we inject the human side of place that we really begin to see and understand the true essence of the place.
How can we better portray the human side of place? Something for me to consider, because maps are so 6th grad.