Maps can quickly bring clarity to meandering discussions about program expansion, collaborations, or community outreach. In fact, many times they provide an “aha!” moment for board or staff members who have heard or read about a community, but who have never completely grasped the scale of the neighborhood, the locations of agencies, or the distances between hot and quiet spots around town.
One simple yet powerful way to guide a discussion is to print a map large enough to spread across an entire table, label with stickers, and discuss and draw upon during conversations. Here is an example from one of our projects. We teamed with the City of Indianapolis’s Geographic Information Systems experts to produce this map:
This printed map has several attractive features:
- It measures about five feet by five feet, so it’s easy and fun for many readers to see.
- Different colors and icons highlight schools, parks, libraries, brownfields, major roadways, and other key neighborhood features.
- The size enabled us to use stickers to highlight possible partners for the nonprofit’s service programs. We assembled board and staff members to plot our client’s potential property expansion and community outreach initiatives.
By taking these steps, rather than simply having a conversation about where the group should do its work, we were able to rapidly identify places where we could cluster operations, take advantage of transportation routes, and minimize safety risks. Include maps in your organization’s planning and brainstorming discussions, and you will soon appreciate the benefits!