Where are we in the process?


Water Map Team


August 1, 2022

Since summer 2020, a multidisciplinary team has been collecting data, researching histories, developing graphics, and creating prototypes with seed funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the support of our advisors and Antenna. Our goal has been to develop a strong framework for this project as we work towards a first print run of the map in spring 2022. This framework includes clear purpose and principles, an approach to language and graphics, integration of paper and digital modes, community input processes, and research and design methodologies that support broad-based exploration and authorship. A few highlights of our process and our research questions thus far:    

  1. Austin Hogans and John Mouton pulling together maps of Bulbancha and present-day New Orleans from different eras -- from the period of colonization to today -- and comparing and contrasting graphic techniques for describing land, water, and settlements used by Native Americans, European colonizers, and today’s engineers and planners. What can maps, drawings, lines, colors, and place names tell us about settler colonialism and genocide, fear and danger, people and resilience?  
  2. Jihad Doucette, Mike Biros, and Aron Chang working with Kurston Melton and Jeremy Paten from Collection of Collections to test different ways to fold a sheet of paper. (see picture above) How can a paper map fit in your pocket and unfold in a way that reveals different kinds of stories and information for people of all ages?
  3. Advisors Carol Bebelle and Shana griffin joining the project team for a discussion on symbols and iconography. We look at everything from the fleur de lis to Adinkra symbols to the logo of the US Army Corps of Engineers. What can we learn about our relationship to water through close study of the visual language that is already a part of our everyday lives?
  4. Graphics workshops where we are attempting to draw the flow of water and the definition of the water’s edge in ten different ways. How can we represent water in a way that is true to its constantly changing nature instead of attempting to fix it in time and space?
  5. Receiving input from community members as part of public events (see Seeds & Beats 2021) that weave together art, music, community conversations, and land stewardship. How can a water map support and draw from ongoing interactions between people, places, and systems as we work towards shared narratives in relation to water management, risk, resilience, and climate action across the region?  

Our project timeline for the months ahead is to print an initial paper map in spring 2022 and build upon the initial research and design exploration with the development of the digital map in summer and fall 2023. We are also raising funds to establish a fellowship program to support individuals and community groups around New Orleans / Bulbancha in developing research and storytelling specific to waterways, waterfronts, wetlands, and infrastructure that they are directly connected to.

Please use this blog to follow along as we share project updates, explorations, and resources.

And, please make a tax-deductible donation to support the development and distribution of the first Water Map in both print and digital forms. [] Your contribution will support the team in completing phase one of the project, which includes an initial print run of the paper map, a digital map, and a full program of public workshops and learning resources.