Jessica Lee Martin is the audience development editor for CityLab. She previously worked at Guardian US, Democracy Now!, and Wisconsin Public Television.
As part of our series The Maps That Make Us, we’re asking readers to share mini-essays about a map that is especially important.
How do we find our way through the world? We follow maps, and we make our own. Sometimes we wander off the map entirely.
The special CityLab series The Maps That Make Us is creating space to talk about the life-shaping role maps have on us. In her introduction to the series, Laura Bliss writes: “Because they can be so curiously emotional, maps are as capable of directing the way we relate to our world as they are of reflecting it.”
We invite you, our readers, to share with us a short story about how a map has left an impression on you, or defined an important moment in your life.
Need inspiration? So far in the series, you can read about one artist’s quest to map the ever-changing Rio Grande. Nicole Antebi, an animator and filmmaker, writes how she was captivated by the “meander maps” of the Lower Mississippi River made by Harold Fisk, an Army Corps of Engineers cartographer and geologist. “Like the unmoving lines of a traditional map, the border imprints one idea of how the river should move onto the landscape,” Antebi writes. She created this animation of the restless river that defines a high-stakes portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.
In another essay, Laura Bliss reminisces about how she unraveled the mysteries of Los Angeles from the backseat of her dad’s car using the Thomas Guide, the definitive pre-smartphone street atlas for the sprawling city. “Depicting L.A. in sweeping relief, it provided Angelenos with a common picture of the city and language for navigation. My dad has an old copy of it stashed away as a keepsake, and my generation may have been the last to absorb its innate wisdom,” she writes.
If you have more to say than a short paragraph, we’re accepting pitches for contributors who have a longer personal essay to share. Email your ideas to series editor Laura Bliss.
We look forward to reading your map story.