Popular education tools: Community mapping

Community Mapping and Issues Facing the Community

Overview:  When talking about “community radio” there are many assumptions as to who “the community” is. These exercises create a visual representation of the people in the rooms' vision of their community. They are great reference points for the rest of the workshop.

For outside facilitators and organizers, this exercise is also valuable in orienting you to the complexities and relationships of where you are. Each community map is distinct and every group interprets it slightly differently. This tool will often bring up issues of power and oppression and sometimes a recognition of who is and isn't in the room. Part II can highlight shared struggles and create a sense of unity. This activity can also highlight differences in what types of problems that people are facing based on their rank and privilege.

Time: Approx. 20 minutes (10 minutes each for two exercises)

Community Mapping

Goal: To create a visual tool that identifies people, groups, sectors, resources, and relationships in a community.

Facilitator instructions:

Be prepared with a big piece of paper and markers. Introduce by saying: “We are going to talk about community radio, so tell me who is 'the community' here?” Gather responses.

Record the responses on the big paper in a scatter fashion so there is no hierarchy implied. Note:  If people are making connections between two elements, draw lines and connect them.

Ask clarifying questions to draw out deeper and clearer answers.

Leave space for reflections & comments on the map.  

Depending on the group, ask how the people in the room are a part of the community.

More reflection.

Either transition into Part II or close by saying that as we talk about community radio, this exercise will remain on the wall to help guide us in our sense of who the community is.

Issues facing the community (Part II of Community mapping)

Time: 20 mins

Goal: To build a shared understanding of the problems that people are facing in their communities.  

Supplies: Map from previous exercise and large paper and markers. You may need to use a separate sheet of paper for each segment or two of the community identified in the previous exercise.  Self adhesive dots if doing “dotmocracy”

Facilitator instructions:
 Using the community map as a tool, ask the question, “So what problems are facing the community?” Gather responses and write them on a large piece of paper.

Ask clarifying questions.

If someone mentions that some people in the community face different problems than others, don't shy away. Help create space for those differences to be considered – separate sheets of paper set the statge for this.  Encourage an analysis of power, privilege, rank, and oppression.

Ask people to take a moment to reflect on how radio could be used as a tool to solve some of these problems. 

Optional: Using “dotmocracy”, ask people to vote (by placing a sticker dot, or simply noting it) what they think the 3 most serious problems facing the community are.  (This is useful for later exercises when groups produce a radio piece.)

Close by reflecting on community radio as a tool to solve problems serious problems that the community is facing.


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