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.

PlayPhilly launches balloon in Philadelphia to observe public space usage patterns

May 17th, 2011 by Jeffrey Warren

Project: Grassroots Mapping from PlayPhilly on Vimeo.

Giacomo Ciminello of PlayPhilly writes:

Hello everyone, I wanted to pop in to answer any questions on the project. Yes, we used Photosynth as a quick and dirty method to stitch everything together. The project started as a means to use playful tools to get the public to stop and engage in public space more. This method really got people around the city talking. A couple even left their buildings and chased us down to see what we were up too. Fantastic experience overall. So many great stories. But if you would like to check out the Synths go here..

Photosynth 1
Photosynth 2
Photosynth 3
Photosynth 4

All of these flights were during peak office hours, and in the most occupied downtown district of Center City. yet, there are no people. The spaces go unused, and give the downtown landscape a sense of loss
and isolation. This could in theory translate to the un-innovative nature of the workforce here. The theory being that by using playful acts people get re-energized as the spaces do. The city recognizes its horrible planning and plans on spending upwards of 90 million to fix just one of these spaces. We spent $100 and got people talking. We hope to continue using this method to open the dialog between the people of downtown Philly, and city planners so that city resources get put to the appropriate use and that the public can have a voice.

More photos and documentation »

And photos on Flickr:

One Response to “PlayPhilly launches balloon in Philadelphia to observe public space usage patterns”

  1. Mediated Cityscapes 03: DIY Cartography - Guest post on CAN by Greg J. Smith (@serial_consign) | CreativeApplications.Net Says:

    […] than a one-off project and the apparatus has been used for multiple applications ranging from observing how public space is used in downtown Philadelphia to documenting a recent march for Palestinian independence that took place in Jerusalem – […]

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