Radical Mapping: Making Meaning in Our Communities

Liberation is a spatial practice.
—Mario Gooden, Architect & Scholar

Throughout history, maps have helped shape human endeavor and experience. Hardly neutral and deeply embedded in the faultlines of power, maps have been used to name and delineate lands, peoples, and states. They have been used to create, and to sever, relationships according to race, economics, language, and more––from Ptolemy’s Geography in 150 AD, to the 1491 map that led to colonization of the “New World” and theft of Indigenous lands, to the 1885 Berlin Conference that divided Africa, to redlining and urban renewal maps that segregated US society in the 20th century, to Google Earth that has become indispensable in the 21st.

Yet, for just as long, artists, activists, communities, and those cartographically marginalized—especially people of color—have drawn themselves, their histories, their dreams, and their realities onto new self-determined maps. At The LP, we noticed that many of the artists we support were engaged in feats of radical, imaginative, and liberatory counter-mappings.

Inspired by them,
Radical Mapping: Making Meaning in Our Communities is a three-part virtual public program that gathers artists, historians, mapmakers, local leaders, and community members to share how mapping concepts and methods can democratize the knowing, keeping, and making of people and place. We will explore how Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and other communities of color can creatively use practices like cultural asset mapping, cartography, and archiving to invest in and make meaning of our localities.

>> This virtual event is free and open to the public. Register for individual components below.

Interested in exploring community asset mapping, data for social justice, and other topics related to this event? Check out our resource guide!

>> The Laundromat Project is committed to hosting accessible and inclusive events. Real-Time Captioning (CART) will be available for all components of Radical Mapping: Making Meaning in our Communities. ASL interpretation will be available at Thursday’s Fireside Chat. If you require any additional accessibility accommodations, please email [email protected].


Part 1 | Fireside Chat
April 15 @ 6:00–7:00pm EDT – Register Here

Join visual artist Julie Mehretu and The LP Executive Director Kemi Ilesanmi for an intimate chat and Q&A to discuss the ways Mehretu’s work explores displacement, migration, urban development, and, of course, mapping.



Part 2 | The Self-Determined Society
April 16 @ 12:00–1:00pm EDT – Register Here

How can mapping tools and concepts be used to realize self-determined visions in Black, Indigenous, and POC communities? This panel will bring together a global group of mappers, creative practitioners, and planners to discuss how they invite collective participation in decision-making processes about the preservation and sustainability of our communities. Featuring Laura Bustillos Jáquez, Steve DeRoy, Sadra Shahab, and Armando Sullivan. Moderated by Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham.



Part 3 | Where Is Home on the Map?
April 16 @ 4:30–6:00pm EDT – Register Here

How have our experiences of our homes and local surroundings been impacted by forces like housing policy, gentrification, and redlining throughout history? Further: how can uncovering these histories lead us to shape positive social change in our communities? This event will bring together artists, storytellers, and housing experts for a rich exploration and small group discussions on the places we call home. Featuring Walis Johnson, Barika Williams, and Ariana Allensworth. Moderated by Dr. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani.




Fireside Chat

Julie Mehretu, Artist
Julie Mehretu is a world renowned painter who lives and works in New York City and Berlin. She is the recipient of  The MacArthur Award (2005) and the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). She has shown her work extensively in solo and group exhibitions and is represented in public and private collections world wide. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. A mid-career survey of Mehretu’s work is currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art through August 8.

Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director, The Laundromat Project
Kemi Ilesanmi is Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, which advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities. She has previously worked at Creative Capital Foundation and the Walker Art Center. In 2015, she was appointed by the Mayor to the NYC Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission. She is on the board of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and The Broad Room. A graduate of Smith College, NYU, and Coro Leadership NY, she is also a Sterling Network Fellow.


The Self-Determined Society

Laura Bustillos Jáquez, Education Program Coordinator, Femme Frontera
Laura Bustillos Jáquez is a documentary filmmaker from the US-Mexico border. As a transnational woman of color, she focuses on telling stories about immigration and social reconstruction within the US-Mexico border and the world. Laura was a 2020 Create Change fellow at The LP in NYC, was 2019’s Distinguished Global Speaker at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, was invited lecturer of “Decolonizing our Identities” at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juarez as well as ISMA in Cotonou, Benin among other creative accomplishments as a Director, DP, Editor, Producer, etc. She is currently based in New York City.

Steve DeRoy, Director, The Firelight Group; and Founder, Indigenous Mapping Workshop
Steve DeRoy is from the buffalo clan, is Anishinaabe/Saulteaux and a member of the Ebb and Flow First Nation from Manitoba. He is the co-founder, director, and past president of The Firelight Group, as well as the founder of the annual Indigenous Mapping Workshop. Steve is an award-winning Anishinaabe professional and entrepreneur with expertise in mapping and geographic information sciences, business development, natural resources management, and project management. Since 1998, he has mentored Indigenous practitioners, conducted risk assessments, built decision-support systems and monitoring tools, supported land claims, established consultation processes, facilitated community engagement and planning approaches, and supported negotiations between Indigenous communities, governments and industries.

Sadra Shahab, Director of Data and Research, Hester Street Collaborative
Sadra is a participatory community planner, geographic information systems (GIS) specialist, and educator. He has extensive experience assisting community-based organizations (CBOs) in the majority Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) low and moderate-income communities in all 5 boroughs of NYC with various urban policy, planning, and advocacy endeavors. Sadra is the creator of Neighborhood Data Portal (NDP), a city-wide free and publicly accessible mapping and GIS analysis tool which provides the public with key demographic, socioeconomic, housing, and other vital neighborhood information. Sadra is also an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute’s Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment.

Armando Sullivan, Urbanist and Geographer, Black Space
Armando Sullivan is an urbanist and geographer focused on empowering communities through mobility. Raised in Silver Spring, MD, Armando has learned and worked in Philadelphia, PA, Durham, NC, and Cambridge, MA before choosing to root in Harlem, NY. Throughout his life, Armando has been nurtured by Black teachers, mentors, and professors, instilling in him a recognition of the importance of us planning for us. He chose to pursue a career in urban development in New York because he wants to provide the same experience for Black people at the largest scale possible. This is reflected in his work serving on the board of BlackSpace, an organization with the same passion-driven mission.

Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham (moderator), Co-Founder and Creative Director, Museum Hue
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham’s advocacy aligns with Museum Hue, an organization she co-founded and serves as Creative Director, supporting Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color. She built the first online directory and mapping of BIPOC museums across the US to help widen public knowledge and understanding of art, history, and culture. Stephanie is currently working on a larger Cultural Mapping project specific to New York City with support from NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs. She received the Americans for the Arts 2019 American Express Emerging Leader Award for her work. Stephanie centers cultural equity as an essential part of achieving social justice.


Where is Home On the Map?

Ariana Allensworth, Visual Artist and Researcher
Ariana Faye Allensworth is a visual artist and researcher based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work builds upon interests in photography, spatial justice, and the politics of the archive. She has over 10 years of experience as a cultural producer and arts administrator, specializing in arts education and social impact strategy. She currently works as a Senior Designer at IDEO and has previously held positions at The International Center of Photography, The Center for Cultural Power, Youth Speaks, and Cultural Engagement Lab. Ariana is also a founding member of the New York City chapter of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.

Walis Johnson, Red Line Archive
Walis Johnson is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher interested in the intersection of documentary film and performance, whose work documents the urban landscape through ethnographic film, oral history, and artist walking practice. She holds a BA in History from Williams College and an MFA from Hunter College in Interactive Media and Advanced Documentary film. She has taught at Parsons School of Design.

Barika Williams, Executive Director, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development
Barika X. Williams is the Executive Director of the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development Inc. (ANHD), a leading non-for-profit focused on creating housing and economic justice for all New Yorkers. Ms. Williams previously served as the Assistant Secretary for Housing for the State of New York under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo where she managed NY’s major housing priorities, including the $20 billion housing plan and expanding tenant protections statewide. Ms. Williams is the 2020 recipient of APA-NYM’s Robert W. Ponte Award for her commitment to a more just NYC build environment that understands systemic racism’s intersection to place and community.

Dr. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani (moderator), Buscada
Urbanist, curator, and artist Dr. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani is founder of Buscada, which creates vital spaces for dialogue to foster more just cities by fusing art, design, and research. She is author of Contested City: Art and Public History as Mediation at New York’s Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (University of Iowa Press, 2019)—finalist for the Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Prize—and teaches urban studies at Bryn Mawr College & the New School. Gabrielle’s creative practice has been shown at MIT, Brooklyn Public Library, the Center for Architecture, Artists Alliance, the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, and Tate Britain. She is a life-long New Yorker.


The Laundromat Project is committed to hosting accessible and inclusive events. Real-Time Captioning (CART) will be available for all components of Radical Mapping: Making Meaning in our Communities. ASL interpretation will be available at Thursday’s Fireside Chat. If you require any additional accessibility accommodations, please email [email protected].

Support for Radical Mapping: Making Meaning in our Communities has been provided in part by Humanities New York.