ENGLEWOOD — Fans of the famous Folded Map Project can now join in.
The project, which highlights racial and economic disparities between North and South side communities, has been turned into an action kit. People can print and use the free kit, which contains activities families can do to learn more about the structural inequities that have shaped Chicago.
The kit builds off the work of Tonika Johnson, an Englewood-based photographer who founded the Folded Map Project to explore the impacts of segregation in Chicago. Johnson started her work by photographing people who lived on mirrored blocks and interviewing them about how their lives and neighborhoods were different.
Now, the Folded Map Action Kit asks people to fold a map of Chicago and compare the differences in communities of addresses that mirror each other, like 6700 N. Ashland Ave. and 6700 S. Ashland Ave.
“The project has evolved in all of these unexpected ways, and this is really the byproduct of people being so interested in wanting to take action,” Johnson said.
Johnson created the kits with her Folded Map partner, sociology professor Maria Krysan. Englewood Arts Collective co-founder Janell Nelson designed the packet.
The kit helps you identify your “map twin neighborhood,” pinpointing as closely as possible the block that is on the opposite side of the city from you.
Once you’ve determined your “twin,” the kit’s workbook takes you through exercises that ask you to reflect on life in your home neighborhood and visit your map twin to learn about the area.
The idea is to engage with your map twin’s neighborhood through a series of daily errands, like withdrawing money from an ATM or buying toiletries in your map twin’s neighborhood. People can use those experiences to see how communities are treated differently and question why they are provided with different resources.
“Buying toiletries looks different depending on the neighborhood, and a lot of stores in our neighborhoods keep them locked up,” Johnson said. “Why are you locking up toiletries in Black neighborhoods and not white ones? Are you literally saying people don’t steal in those neighborhoods?”
Participants share what they’ve learned on the Folded Map site, where they can upload written reflections or photos.
Johnson said people using the action kit can experience what it’s like to be a resident in a neighborhood that is “under-resourced and over-resourced.”
“I definitely want people who are from neighborhoods that have been historically disinvested to do the exercise so that they can experience the convenience and unfairness of how other neighborhoods are taken care of so that they know what they’re entitled to,” Johnson said.
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