OpenLab Calendar: Event

Storytelling with Maps to Understand Community Challenges

This talk will explore how communities can harness mapping tools (e.g., Google Maps, StoryMaps) to better center the individual stories of people facing community challenges. Many of today’s challenges are place-based, such as economic struggles and environmental issues. Interactive spatial tools give digital humanities researchers and creators rich possibilities for archiving, connecting, and contextualizing individuals’ stories that are linked to local concerns. For example, creators can use mapping tools to interpret and share the lived experiences and concerns of local groups when faced with a problem that has a place-based component. Sea level rise is one such issue that has relevance for people living in coastal Florida. In this presentation, I will describe how I worked with a colleague–Dan Richards at Old Dominion University–to gather personal narratives from coastal residents in Florida and Virginia. We then combined the narratives with dynamic maps and discussions about the potential threats from sea-level rise along the coast. Our resulting project, called “SLR Stories” (, tells an interactive story that adds a human element to what can be “dry” scientific information about risk. I will then discuss how storytelling with maps can be used to share a diverse group of voices and viewpoints about community issues, and focus on some of the best practices that creators should keep in mind for design and development of interactive mapping stories, such as emphasizing usability and thinking about your editorial stance.

Registration is available here.

Event Details

  • Date:
  • Author: Sara F. Johnson
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