Grassroots Mapping is a series of participatory mapping projects involving communities in cartographic dispute. Seeking to invert the traditional power structure of cartography, the grassroots mappers used helium balloons and kites to loft their own “community satellites” made with inexpensive digital cameras.

Mapping with balloons, kites, and kids – first flights with Juan Pablo II in Lima

January 15th, 2010 by Jeffrey Warren

Yesterday Seth Hunter and I had our big flight with teachers from CEDRO and Manzanita “A” and the kids from invasion Juan Pablo II, and everything went extremely well. We started by reviewing the Google Maps imagery of the area (see previous post) and discussing their new homework project of writing about the history of the community, when their family arrived and from where, etc. (see the full homework on the Grassroots Mapping wiki). This was put together with the team from CEDRO — Ernesto, Sandy, Sara, and others, whose fantastic work and thorough understanding of the kids we’re working with has made this all possible. I’ve been very impressed with their personal commitment to the community – they know all the kids and their families, and have a very good rapport with the residents of Juan Pablo II.

After a short discussion of the camera rig and some helium safety tips/rules, we set out to launch our first balloon – or rather 5 balloons, which is what it took to launch our camera.

However, there was quite a bit of wind, and things got a bit turbulent. The rig kept getting pushed down by gusts, and with all the DIY electrical wiring around, we told the kids to let go of the string for a bit. Ultimately, though, we had a big crowd, and the kids helped with everything from filling balloons to tying the rigging — and most importantly, they had a ton of fun.

We were unsure about the pictures we’d get, and indeed we didn’t really get high enough with the balloons (see above) so later, with a smaller group of kids we tried flying kites, which worked fantastically – we got the camera up quite high and captured some really good imagery which we hope to rectify later today or tomorrow. To produce a complete map, we expect to repeat kite/balloon flights over the next week or so.

All in all, the day went terrifically well; many thanks to the aforementioned members of CEDRO as well as Carla del Carpio and Nancy, who were also there to participate.

The complete set of photos of the event are being uploaded to Flickr under the tag “grassrootsmapping”.

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One Response to “Mapping with balloons, kites, and kids – first flights with Juan Pablo II in Lima”

  1. Goodbye NASA shuttle, hello DIY space exploration | Eric P. Green Says:

    […] is a great method to consider. I posted a video about some of my work in Kenya here. In this post, Jeffrey shows how he has taken participatory mapping to a whole new level — or altitude […]

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