How do you map the journey of a batch of carrots from the community garden to the local shop? How are two Gloucester Old Spot pigs linked to a community interest company? The mapping of green spaces is nothing new but Future Maps explores the networks and the relationships between green locations throughout the city.

Future Maps Event

On a very wet Sunday afternoon, OPENGlasgow and creative studio Pidgin Perfect joined Urban Roots at their Toryglen community garden for a Future Maps workshop. Luckily for us – and our rain-sensitive equipment – the event was held inside the local community hall. The aim was to map local knowledge about the links between green spaces and organisations within Glasgow. This could include community gardens, food producers, florists, stalled spaces, cafes and fruit and vegetable shops. Glasgow has an extensive array of such places. Urban Roots began its life as the Toryglen Gardening Club in 2004 and now runs over 20 community gardens across the South Side. Working with such a well-established group meant that we were not starting from scratch.

The set-up at the community hall was maps atop of tables; there were paper maps to add pins to, laptops to be used for Open Street Map (OSM), and tablets for using Mapbox. OSM is an open-source mapping platform while Mapbox allows you to create highly stylised, personalised maps.

People could wander around the tables and add their local knowledge to the various maps. Within a short space of time we had a multitude of coloured arrows, lines and pins covering both the analogue and digital maps, showing links between different green spaces and organisations. This was exciting because lots of this information had never been mapped before. By drawing a line on Mapbox you can show, for example, the journey of a batch of carrots from the community garden to the local shop.

Journeys and Stories

While the mapping of green spaces is not new – indeed, Urban Roots have produced a Glasgow Local Food Network map – what OPEN Glasgow and Pidgin Perfect are doing in collaboration with Urban Roots is a little more unique. Mapping the relationships, even the stories, between different green organisations in the city is uncharted territory. The links that came up during the workshop were very diverse. Soul Food Sisters social enterprise in Queen’s Park is linked to the Glad Cafe in Pollokshaws through the use of a shared kitchen. Two Gloucester Old Spot pigs living in Queen’s Park are linked to Locavore, a community interest food company in the South Side who recently adopted the rare breeds. These links are stories, which is data, which is created by people. Using open source map platforms such as OSM and Mapbox is a democratic approach to mapping which confronts the preconception that maps are unchallengeable authorities of information. Maps can spark imaginations, reveal the potential and continue the conversation.

Yet, a map doesn’t only show what there is. It also shows what could be. For example, if a nursery wanted greater access to green space, and a youth group wanted to do some vegetable growing, they could search together for a local empty plot of land to be converted into a community garden and seek advice and support from Stalled Spaces. Maps have the potential to bring groups together for the mutual betterment of their community and their city.

Keep an eye out on the OPEN mapping portal where new maps will be added over the next few months. Or join the next mapping event at the Concrete Gardens on September 24th, 2014 from 10am-1pm. We look forward to seeing you there.