PRESS: Jackson Heights Locals Sketch Neighborhood Issues in ‘Map Zine’

By Katie Honan

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Nearly two years ago, members of the Híbridos Collective set out to engage their neighbors and create a map of the community that injects personal experience into cartography.

This weekend, they’ll release the finished result: a DiverCity “map zine” collection of sketches from both newcomers and longtime residents who drew their favorite streets and landmarks and shared observations, on issues from air quality problems as a result of the area’s abundant highways and airports to the rising cost of housing.

“We really wanted it to be a community-driven process,” said co-founder Beatriz Gil, who said they organized several workshops throughout Jackson Heights.

Gil said they originally envisioned a slightly different project when they launched in 2013. But as they hosted the workshops, they realized they weren’t reaching as many people as they hoped.

So they changed plans midway through and came up with a map-making kit, which included a base map, a small journal and a pen, and reached out to local residents active in groups around Jackson Heights.
Of the 25 kits they sent out, they received 17 back, they said.

The kits were filled with sketches of residents’ favorite streets and landmarks. Some were filled out by newcomers and others were filled out by longtime residents. Many sketched out continued issues that come from living in a neighborhood as diverse and dynamic as Jackson Heights, she said.

For example, Rodrigo Salazar, an active member of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, highlighted the various garden projects and clean-ups throughout the neighborhood in his small Moleskine notebook.


He also shouted out Wink the Penguin on 75th Street and the neighborhood’s great restaurants.
Gil said their goal was to expand the conversation on what diversity means to a community.
And through their workshops and meetings, where they met with more than 200 people, they did just that, Gil said.

Many of the people they spoke with expressed concern about the same issues, but felt they didn’t have a place to share them, she said.

“Where’s the common ground?” she said.
”The emphasis for the map is getting those conversations going, not really drawing a map that’s to scale.”
The map zine is a fold-out magazine to allow space to show what makes Jackson Heights so vibrant, she said. There are also facts on the history of the neighborhood.
”This really speaks to a changing landscape on a neighborhood level,” Gil said.

Híbridos Collective will be handing out copies of the map zine Sunday, July 26 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the 78th Street Play Street, between 34th Street and Northern Boulevard.

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