This community mapmaking project invites newcomers and long-time residents to participate in the creation of an asset and resource map through mapmaking workshops and activities. Hibridos Collective wants to provide community members of all ages (who have first-hand knowledge of the neighborhood) with the tools to create a community resource that anyone can access regardless of language and community background.

The process of creating the map is as important as the final product. Our goal is to chart community resources and assets through a series of Community Mapmaking Workshops that will culminate with the release of a widely distributed map in different formats (printed, digital, online and mobile). Our map will capture cultural, social, historical, artistic, religious and green spaces using mapping tools and icons created by Green Map System (GMS). GMS is a non-profit organization with more than 15 years of experience in community mapmaking in over 800 communities in 65 countries worldwide.


The mapmaking process will provide Jackson Heights community members with the tools and the visual language to identify and describe local assets and resources. Given the fact that Jackson Heights is the most diverse neighborhood in the country, a visual language is critical to create a common language for new immigrants and long-time residents to engage in the mapmaking process. Community members will be able to suggest specific spaces to be included in the map using this visual mapping language during mapping workshops in the neighborhood. According to the Green Mapmaking Tools, the map can include the following themes: sustainable living (green economy, technology and design, mobility, hazards and challenges); nature (land and water, flora, fauna, outdoor activities); and culture and society (cultural character, eco-information, justice and activism, public works and landmarks). We will also use this as an opportunity to explore community needs and ways to build on existing resources.

Jackson Heights is a historic district in constant transition. It is home to immigrants from different countries, LBGTQ communities, and many faith-based institutions. We believe that as community members, we need to be involved in envisioning the community we want to create for the future. Community mapping affirms the integrity and diversity of local places and people. The core values of community mapping are cherishing the past, valuing the present and visioning the future. This project will create a sense of place, facilitate dialogue and encourage diverse communities to come together around shared space and resources.


Story Mapping Circle

The Story Mapping Circle workshop took place at the 78th Street Play Street in Jackson Heights. We invited people of all ages to tell us a story about the neighborhood in exchange for an instant photo. Each participant created their own story map using Green Map System’s icons to map their memories. The icons fall into three main categories: 1) sustainable living, 2) nature and 3) culture and society. We worked with the standard set of icons to introduce the concept of combining storytelling and mapmaking.


Story Mapping Circle - Flyer

Story Mapping Circle – Flyer


To create a story map, each participant was invited to think about a place in the neighborhood that had a special meaning or needed improvement. After identifying possible stories and locations they wanted to write about, the found these places on the map and started to write down some details for their story. Participants also matched the location they wanted to write about with a Green Map icon. Participants were encouraged to use any writing style to tell their story. Given our proximity to Travers Park. Many people mapped and wrote about the park and their experience with this vibrant place that hosts the Greenmarket, the playground and ongoing community and cultural events.


Story Mapping Circle Team

Story Mapping Circle – Facilitators

This workshop was facilitated by Beatriz Gil & Carlos Martinez from Hibridos Collective and Nancy Agabian, local author and writing instructor from Heightening Stories.


Read the DNAinfo article by Katie Honan about this project:
“Community Storytelling Project Coming to Jackson Heights Playstreet”


Photo shared by Zahida Pirani

Photo shared by Zahida Pirani

“I’m glad I participated in the Story Mapping Project – it was so great to tell my old Jackson Heights community organizing stories! I’m sharing the photo of “The Day Without An Immigrant” May 1, 2006 mobilization in Jackson Heights that goes with the story I told. I’m the one in the orange t-shirt…”



Hibridos Collective participated in Park(ing) Day®, an annual event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. Our parking spot was one of 27 throughout New York City. We decided to transform a parking spot on the border of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst as an asset mapping space to gather stories for the Queens DiverCity map we are creating with community input as well as a space to collect air samples. One of the main goals of Park(ing) Day® is to encourage “experimental forms of playful and creative human social behavior” to temporarily transform the urban landscape outside of a commercial setting.

Park(ing) Day 2013 - Flyer

Park(ing) Day 2013 – Flyer


We set up a pop-up space with a beach umbrella on Ithaca Street between 82nd Street & Baxter Avenue, across the street from Dunningham Triangle. We offered passers-by a free instant photo in exchange of a story about the neighborhood, which will inform the selection of sites that will be included in the map. During the course of the morning, some people were curious about what we were doing but also expressed they we hesitant to speak openly about the problems in the neighborhood. We recognize simply collecting stories will not in itself transform this urban landscape but it is an opening to interact with community residents to learn about the issues they see need attention in the neighborhood.

We also partnered with the Jackson Heights Beautification Group (JHBG) to collect air samples that will be used to measure air quality as part of the Department of Environmental Conservation Community Air Screen Program. This program works with volunteers from local communities to screen for toxic air pollutants in order to address local air quality concerns. According to a Green Agenda for Jackson Heights 2010 Census and Community Board 3 District Needs Statement: “More than half of all Jackson Heights households are completely car free. This compares only 34% being car free across all of Queens. That makes Jackson Heights one of the least car dependent communities in the whole country. Despite this low rate of automobile ownership, poor street design puts people in conflict with cars and has created safety concerns and air quality issues in Jackson Heights. Jackson Heights and surrounding communities must also contend with 23 million passengers per year coming through the neighborhood on route to the airport.” By collaborating in this citizen science program, we are collecting the data to advocate for a safer and healthier neighborhood.

Wendy Brawer, founder and executive director of Green Map System joined us to support our locally-led mapping efforts. We distributed information about the Queens DiverCity Mapping Project as well as bike maps to passers-by.

Wendy Brawer (Green Map System, Founding-Director) and Beatriz Gil (Hibridos Collective, Co-founder)

Wendy Brawer (Green Map System, Founding-Director) and Beatriz Gil (Hibridos Collective, Co-founder) at Park(ing) Day 2013 (Jackson Heights / Elmhurst)


DiverCity Mapping Toolkit


Mapping Toolkit

The Jackson Heights Mapping Toolkit is a set of tools provided to our local Mapmakers to document their own mapmaking experience outside of a workshop setting. We created a call for mapmakers to receive a toolkit, containing instructions, base maps, a journal, a pen, the Green Map Icon stickers, a NYC bike map and granola bars along with samples of Green Maps produced by other communities around the world. Initially we engaged 25 participants, of these 15 mapped their experience in the neighborhood between June and December 2014.


Meet the DiverCity Mapmakers




Anthony Ng  |  Anuva Kalawar  |  Amy Paul  |  Arun Antonyraj  |  Ann Lien  |  Bill Meehan  |  Edward Lopez  |       Elisa Lopez  |  Evie McKenna  |  Hibridos Collective  |  Jeff Orlick  |  Louise Mulvihill  |  Maureen Altman  |       Melissa Zavala  |  Nancy Agabian  |  Nitin Mukul  |  Nuala O’Doherty  |  Pauline Park  |  Rodrigo Salazar  |           Sonja Munshi  |  Suzie & Raul


Beyond Diversity:

Beyond Diversity - Flyer


Mapmakers Meet-and-Greet


During our Mapmaker Meet-­and-­Greet, several shared their vision to transform the Burson Building, which is now vacant building due to a fire. After the meeting, some mapmakers got together to attend a town hall to discuss future plans for this building. Through this mapping process, participants have become part of G​reen Map System, ​a global community of artists, urban planners, environmentalists and advocates.


Jackson Heights DiverCity Map Zine Release


Next Steps…