Friday, March 7, 2014

Do we need a “judgmental map” of Spokane?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 1:13 PM

There’s a thing happening on the Internet called Judgmental Maps, where people label maps of their cities with blunt assessments of the different neighborhoods: “Hipsters & Korean BBQ,” “botoxed white people,” “North Face families,” “young active hobos.” 

It’s an exercise in cynicism and stereotyping, to be sure, but it’s also about the identity of cities and our sense of place. It’s a counterpoint to the overly simplified notions of cities — Seattle is more than Starbucks and Microsoft, Nashville is more than tourists in cowboy hats.

The best ones point out how isolated we are in our own communities — “poor people in apartments,” “Scary Walmart,” “douchey rich” — and point out the stark socionomic contrasts that get glossed over in cities’ visitors guides and brochures. Plenty of people have also pointed out the maps often reveal more about the person making them than the city itself. The concept has been done before, but this series seems to purposely go for the “typing the first thing that comes to mind” aesthetic. 

We briefly put our cynicism to the test by labeling Spokane — and it’s surprisingly hard. Once we put “sparkly jeans” on the Valley and “yoga moms and dad bros” on Perry, we wanted to just put “kinda crimey” on everything else and call it good. And being judgmental isn’t really a thing we want to do anyway. But if you have suggestions, maybe we’ll revisit it...

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Spokane Lunar New Year @ Spokane Convention Center

Sat., Feb. 24, 1-7 p.m.
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Lisa Waananen

Lisa Waananen is the web editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She specializes in data and graphics, and her recent cover stories have been about family history, the legacy of Spokane photographer Charles A. Libby and genetically modified food...