Hello CHI Community!

This week we are working on our mapping memory project. As one of our rapid development projects, our current prompt asks us to create a website to display a narrative of our choosing based on some linked geographic coordinates over some span of time. While a bit open ended, this allows us to ask ourselves what constitutes a memory and how a memory can be mapped.

And, different from our previous rapid development projects, and other years that CHI has used this prompt, instead of being broken down into groups, we have decided to do one project with all seven CHI fellows. This allows us to create a more developed project with more points of memory, as we have more brains to put to the task! It really is an interesting experiment, as there is a fellowship at another university that is similar to CHI, but instead of working on individual projects, fellows are asked to work on one large project. This is a nice way of allowing us all to come together to work on one project, and see how more fellows can create a more sophisticated product – but still allows us to work on our individual projects, which I know we are all extremely excited for, as this lets us explore ideas related to our specific research interests.

For our project, we decided to focus on a very recent and local memory, or the reactions to the leak and subsequent overturn of the Roe v. Wade trial, which has protected the right to an abortion nationally for the last fifty years. Specifically, we wanted to see how many organized rallies or protests have taken place since May and up until the November 8th election. While we initially wanted to look at the United States as a whole, we quickly realized that the geographic region was too large for us to be able to tackle with only nine fellows, and any attempt to limit the nation to capital cities, or larger populations, could potentially skew the data towards protests over rallies. As we wanted a more representative picture of all organized groups, no matter their preference for or against Roe v. Wade, we decided to limit our geographic region to Michigan and divide and conquer the state through counties.

I am responsible for most of the “C” counties (as we divided up an alphabetical list), which has allowed me to look at areas in Northern Michigan, near to the state capital, and up in the Upper Peninsula. Research for this project has had to be strategic – even searching with the term “protest” biases your search towards those that are only anti Roe v. Wade repeal, but expanding searches to include “rally” or demonstration” seems to provide a more even representation. Some digging through Facebook pages is required, as well as News Articles, but this is really a unique way to see exactly how those in the same state react to the same set of news – and exploring what is the best way to represent that data.

This week we are working as a group on the project and we present it next week. I know I will learn a lot and can’t wait to see how this rapid development challenge helps me prepare for my own project, which I hope to use mapping for!