Both the reading and my semester topic, which specifically focuses on gentrification in Central Los Angeles neighborhoods, discuss Collective Power through participatory media, individuals organizing against institutional and organizational power. People who are “reaching across differences to achieve mutual goals.”
The second project of Mapping Memories was a collaboration with Express and Jane’s walk in Toronto. The walking tour and the online tour, called “Queer is in the Eye of the Newcomer,” used “personal stories to address stereotypes of youth with refugee experiences and to foster a sense of belonging among the participants,” states Chapter 5, “Identity, Belonging & Race.” Place-based stories gave refugees the opportunity to make comparisons between the cultures they’d left and those they were newly encountering in Toronto. This exercise of comparison focuses on individual reflection, and often has the effect of making an individual feel as though they’ve made connections with Toronto that tie them to their new place.
In particular Mapping The Walk Online is a virtual version of the walk, which both broadens the reach of the project through web-based media and also allows for some degree of interactivity on the past of the user. This interactive map is not unlike the Gentrification Watch map that will be shown in my group project on Gentrification in Central Los Angeles, an example of Social Change and New Media. While every web platform differs, they often give a bird’s eye view of the locations and neighborhoods. In the case of my semester’s topic, those areas that are experiencing gentrification. For both the literate and illiterate users, and for users to whom English is not a first language, virtual maps that do not rely heavily on text and serve as visual aids to spread a message will reach a larger audience than a text-based form of media.
In Mapping Memories, Gabe recounts his experience as a leader on the tour and on the video component of the mapping project as a mirror of his experience. Ralph is another participant who reflects on the video component: “Once I saw myself in the neighborhood talking about my stories and how they relate to being gay in Toronto, I realized I am myself included in this gay community in Toronto. So having this project was a great way for me to see how I could fit into this new society.”