Blair Thornburgh

Map enthusiast Blair Thornburgh is so fascinated by redistricting that she whipped up some love letters to democracy.

Hunting for a warm-and-fuzzy message for the map enthusiast in your life? Blair Thornburgh has got you covered: She whipped up these delightfully wonky odes to democracy during lunch.

Thornburgh, a Philadelphia book editor with some serious Photoshop skills, took a quick stroll through Google Images in pursuit of some of the squiggliest gerrymandered electoral districts, and paired their silhouettes with bon mots: “You’re the only gerryMANder for me,” and “Electoral manipulation is real, just like our love.” The sweet nothings are rosy, with a dash of vinegar.  

When Thornburgh shared them on Twitter, hawk-eyed observers pointed out that the district maps weren’t totally up to date. “Still, I think the point stands,” she says.

(Blair Thornburgh)

Thornburgh traces her recent awakening to the perils of gerrymandering to hearing Salon’s David Daley talk about his book, Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy. She gave it a read. Then, she says, “I just got mad—redistricting is such a wonky issue that it seemed easy to rig it without the public noticing, precisely because it's so unsexy.” Since then, Thornburgh has hoofed it to events such as a recent town hall held by Fair Districts PA, which drew a capacity crowd.

If this Valentine’s Day effort had been less slapdash, she adds, she would have printed batches as postcards, and donated the proceeds to a fair-districting cause. (Those notes would likely have plenty of company: In the wake of the recent women’s marches scattered across the globe, organizers have urged demonstrators to fill up their reps’ snail mail boxes with letters.)

Next up for Thornburgh’s art-based advocacy: a gerrymandering-themed coloring book. The collaboration with the Philly-based watchdog group Committee of Seventy is due out this spring.

About the Author

Jessica Leigh Hester
Jessica Leigh Hester

Jessica Leigh Hester is a senior associate editor at CityLab.

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