Borders drawn on a city map defining neighborhoods can seem rather arbitrary. Where does one end? Where does one begin? Students may go to school in Highland Park, but live in Cypress Park or spend time in Eagle Rock, and visit friends in Pasadena. Can their community include all these neighborhoods? What is it that ties all these places together? These were some of the questions brought up when the Departures Highland Park Youth Voices student producers were asked to draw a map of their community and identify ten locations, or hot spots, that are significant to them in some way.
In watching and listening to the students, I found it's their personal experiences, memories and a freedom to move within all these places that defines their neighborhood. This emerged as the students were laying out their maps. First, using only their memory, they drew out streets, stores and homes and located their ten hot spots. Then on a second layer, a clear acetate transparency, the students annotated their maps, providing context for the ten locations they had selected. Why do you like to hang out at this place? What scares you about this area? Why is this bus line important to you?
These maps are not supposed to be geographically accurate, but rather represent the students' mental landscape of where they live.
Watch the following slideshow of maps from our creative student producers and experience how they view their neighborhood.
Group 3 Personal Maps