This week, our group had the pleasure of meeting our project partners at the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project! Adrienne and Maggie introduced themselves and the project to us, and gave us a little bit of their own backstories of what led them to the project in the first place. They told us about their interests and areas of expertise, and told us how they were incorporating them into their work for the Atlas. After receiving a full-planning document including a chapter table of contents from Maggie, we’ve divvied up the available chapters and plan to work one-on-one with chapter editors. We plan on then reuniting as a group, and we will discuss together the overall theme and narrative arc of the Atlas, as well as how well it is communicated to the intended audience.
Moving forward, we’re excited about the prospect of preparing educational materials once working text drafts are available and shared with us, as well as for the grant-writing process which will take place during November. We also have an upcoming virtual meeting to discuss the Atlas and its progress this Sunday, and an ethical service workshop sometime in mid-to-late October!
Even from these brief interactions with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Staff, it’s clear that the collective of artists, scholars, and activists working on the project have poured their heart and soul into it. There is a strong sense of horizontalism among the different members, and there does not seem to be a set hierarchy in terms of importance or amount of work completed. This model makes sense given the decentralized nature of the project, and what seems to be a very individual and non-linear style of work. It sounds like a lot of our work will be “creative vision” for the project, and ensuring that there is continuity amongst and between chapters, and that overall, the atlas has a coherent and intelligible message.
Given our eagerness to collaborate with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project researchers, our initial plans to move forward center on: i) streamlining communication avenues with our partners; ii) getting to know our partners personally; iii) spending good time reading up on chapter drafts and iv) brainstorming ways of teaching this content to young audiences.
i) Digital Communication - Adrienne and Maggie made it very clear to us that the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project was a horizontally structured project. This meant that decisions on the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Atlas were to be made by the consensus of a large and diverse group of researchers rather than a single project lead. One strength of this structure is that it makes space for specialists in many different interconnected disciplines and allows for the discussion of diverse issues, spanning from incarceration and police brutality to housing prices and transport access, in a single issue. Notwithstanding this strength, currently Maggie and Deland are our only contacts to the large group and so we plan to make direct contact with each of the chapter editors to relieve the burden of two people managing the connections between a large number of people. Once we have everyone’s emails we plan for members of our team who are analyzing particular chapters in detail to connect with those chapter editors. For all our communications we want to be clear on general practices such as frequency and timing of check ins. On the whole, recognizing that all the authors have their own community based research projects, and likely classes and other priorities, we concede that we must be flexible and understanding of people’s schedules.
ii) Getting acquainted with the chapter editors - This step is not just a nicety but will influence how we interact with the chapter editors and how we can best collaborate with them. By hearing about how the chapter editor’s own history is tied to the issues they are studying we can learn about the things that motivate them and do our best to respect and imitate these motivations as we provide advice. For example, Maggie told us that for her Postdoc she is working on the link between social organizing and art as well as the role of indigenous communities in today’s Bay Area. Awareness of her knowledge of art and organizing may come in handy should we want help in offering advice on the documentation of art in other chapters. Similarly, Deland told us about her experience of learning to communicate complex urban planning jargon into everyday language for community members. We should try to make use of this strategy in looking to bring Atlas content into educational materials for high schoolers.
iii) Understanding the project - This step will involve a lot of reading of the chapter drafts, oral histories and visuals to be included in the chapters. As we do extensive reading we want to ask the project editors about things such as key elements to remain consistent throughout the atlas such as layout, themes or vocabulary so that we can perhaps contribute by adding consistency. We also want to check on the status of languages of the atlas and website since, given the experience of some of our members living in the Bay Area, we could maximize the spread of information about the Atlas if it was in Spanish and other languages, such as Chinese.
iv) Brainstorming educational modules - We do not yet know what audience we would present this information to but will keep track of basic teachable social-justice related content that we think younger audiences would understand. It would be good to talk to programs that run on campus for low-income youth to get their perspective on what aged children and what content they think would be beneficial to teach.