Community Mapping

We appropriated some exercises from InsightShare’s handbook on Participatory Video to use in our photography class and later incorporated the results as part of the photography exhibition by creating a community mural of sorts that was representative of the children’s documented localities and experiences in their neighbourhood.

Map - Maly

I’d tried this exercise before when working with a youth center in Bosnia and found the results to be really interesting as each participant has their own unique vision of their community. What I found to be a useful way to introduce the activity is to ask the participants to:

“Imagine that your good friend is coming to visit you for the first time but the day they arrive, you get really sick and can’t leave your room. So instead, you draw them a map of all the things they need to see, do and experience and all the people they need to meet in your community.”

For our students in Peru, we also gave them a list of things to mark on their map:

  1. A place they want to change
  2. A place that gives them strength
  3. A place that makes me feel happy
  4. A place that I hate
  5. A place where I feel __________
  6. A person that I love
  7. A person that I want to know better
  8. A person that ______________
  9. Free choice
  10. Free choice

Because of safety issues (robbery is common in the area), we decided to purchase disposable cameras for the students to take home and document their communities.

A photo of a map in progress – he has written that his house is the place that gives him strength, and that SKIP is the place where he feels happy.

Map - Alex


Here, Maria has drawn that the sky makes her feel relaxed, and that her house is where she feels happy.

Map - Maria

From this class, we created a mural as part of the photography exhibition and put together their words and photographs, creating a conceptual map of their community.

Here are some pictures of the result & images taken by the students of their community:

“The students were asked to choose people and places in their neighbourhood to photograph and share in order to create their own conceptual map of the community.  The result is a map that reflects the people and places that are most important to them. Reading the descriptions and looking at these images provides the viewer with a better and more intimate perspective of their world.”

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