Communities are the Building Blocks of District Maps

Communities are the Building Blocks of District Maps

What are community maps?

Community maps are exactly what they sound like: maps of communities, as defined by the community members themselves. These maps are based around neighborhoods, or areas with shared interests. Community maps are created by community members -- without any specific rules regarding how those communities must be drawn in terms of population numbers, county splits, and so forth. The idea is simply to have communities tell their own stories and draw lines around the area that they consider their community where they share values, traditions, concerns, and lifestyles​. 

Why are community maps useful?

Community maps are not official, but they build knowledge and power. They encourage community members to think through what their community really is, what it looks like on a map, and why that community should be kept together. Those community members will be better able to participate in public hearings and articulate, for example, what is wrong with a map that dissects their community. 

How will they be used? 

Community maps will educate and empower citizens and enable them to better participate in public hearings to weigh in on what maps are good or bad and why. In addition, community maps can become the building blocks of district maps. Volunteer mapmakers can use the maps they have made to participate in public hearings more meaningfully.  

What is an example of a Community of Interest? 

A group with significant shared interests that should be given careful consideration by district line drawers, such as...

  • Small family farmers
  • Residents of regions with unique environmental concerns
  • Commuters who rely on the same public transit
  • Residents of tourist-centric coastal towns
  • People who work in the same industrial sector
  • Families that rely on the same public school system
  • Can be rural, urban, suburban, etc.

Things to Consider When Drawing Community Maps:

Communities are made up of people and places. Talk about your community and tell us who are the people, places, and resources that shape your community. What key businesses, community institutions (churches, community centers, lodges, etc.), public services or agencies (schools, hospitals, etc.) make up your community? 

What is missing from your community? What does your community need that is not easily accessible? What businesses or institutions do you frequent that you must leave the community to access? 

What are the issues that are most important to this community? Have you noticed any changes to the community?

Who lives in this community? What surrounding communities have similar interests to yours? Are there bordering neighborhoods that would make sense to keep together when we are thinking about how best to draw district lines that don’t separate communities? Or are there neighborhoods that are different enough from yours that would be okay to be split from?

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