Mapping ourselves: You Are Here and counter mapping ‘adds the messy details’

Photo credit: Agoasi via Flickr

Pearl Pirie is a local arts enthusiast who arrived in Ottawa about 20 years ago for university. She blogs about the city’s literary events — in both word and image.  Her second full-length poetry collection is coming out this fall.

It is a great city for walking, especially as fall colours show off to each other. Want another reason to hit the streets? Did you know that there are Naughty Haunted Walks that include political life? Did you know that there are self-guided foodie walks? Cheap Eats Ottawa has a google map with pop up pics of food photos.

What about literary life? How do we fit onto our own maps? Toronto has the Coach house stroll of literary history. Did you know that there’s a Poet’s Walk in Ottawa on the 35 km of Poet’s Pathway? It commemorates the Confederation Poets and the poets of the Mouvement littéraire, the literary equivalent of the Group of Seven. What about a literary self-guided map of the poetry that is everywhere?

What does a map not include? Sounds of a space, tastes, smells, experiences. What about a map that covers more memories and meaning? What gives a space significance? Memories and history. What was experienced there subjectively that made the space feel yours? What makes the place distinct? What writer came or comes to what cafe to compose or perform? Who was born and died where?

Some of the participants at the last session look at each other's counter-maps.

Germaine Koh did a map project for Vancouver, adding photos of the pedestrian landmarks and experiences we have in the city to make maps differently meaningful. The Push Festival out there invited all kinds of participants to make Counter Mapping. Counter mapping goes against the strict just-the-street-grid approach to maps and adds the messy details that makes a place distinctive.  

And now Ottawa has its own version — You Are Here — brought to you by the Tree Reading Series.

If you want to join in, come out to the Arts Court, 2nd floor at 6:45 pm on the next few second or fourth Tuesdays of the month. (That’s TONIGHT!) Monty Reid is leading the way. What does one associate with a place? These maps would have photos, audio clips, video clips, poems, memories to show a deeper meaning of place. People are invited to add their knowledge and short poems to what will become an online resource of what is Literary Ottawa, to eventually make a rich walking tour.

So that means You Are Here runs Oct 25, November 8th and 22nd at Arts Court Building. This is what local tourism is all about!