Broken City Brilliance

Broken City Lab is at it again.

They’ve got this great concept, at least, they’re borrowing it. Kind of like I do with every event I run.


Katy Asher, a student in Portland’s MFA in Art and Social Practice program, along with Ariana Jacob and Amber Bell, have initiated a project that “aims to make a vending cart of maps made by people from Portland.”

I love the idea of collecting maps that people have DRAWN! As Broken City Lab posits, it makes for a great outlet to see how people exaggerate distances and sizes of things on a hand-drawn map. We all do it. We run out of room on a map we’re drawing for someone, or we leave a ton of room and find that things are much closer, and we don’t need the allotted space.

It’s a new way of investigating the “psychogeographic” influences that driving a car has on the way we draw a map. Or, conversely, how walking or biking influences the drawing of a map.

I LOVE the idea of a possible mixture of Google Maps and simple hand-drawn maps, much like the recent walk that we held at Phog Lounge. I envision an art show consisting of hand drawn maps overlapped with ACTUAL maps of the area from, Google maybe. And maybe commentary with the person who drew the map to discuss the inconsistencies and reasons for them.

It’s yet another great tool to investigate what works in our (your) city and what doesn’t.

Justin, I absolutely love everything your group is doing! Dammit!
I feel inspired now. Thanks you.


6 responses to “Broken City Brilliance

  1. Tom, thanks for posting this, really like the idea of collecting enough maps to have a show with them! See you Thursday, for real!

  2. I fail to see how this could actually “fix” this city.

    • It’s about having discussions about the drawn designs. Why someone has drawn something oblong or rigid, menacing or undersized, which can lead to discussion about the artists’ feelings about the spaces they’ve drawn. It can be a portal to what people really feel about a particular space. You see, sometimes, we (I) am unaware of the space between things. Which might mean that the space, say from Phog to the U of W on University Avenue, is underused, zoned improperly, or unused altogether. It is a conduit to discussion about possibly repressed or under-examined appreciation or under-appreciation for certain areas of the city. Get it?

  3. There’s a group in the UK called Common Ground that believe that you have to care about what’s local before you can expected to take action to preserve it. One way they do this is through what they call, Parish Maps:

    Here’s mine:

  4. I agree. It will take more than one ‘band-aid’ to fix our ‘broken city’. To downplay a single act and it’s effect on the city lacks vision. As Tom said, it begins discussions that have the power to move people to act and to ‘see’ their city – not merely pass through it.

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