The WUN MAP Project
Enhancing Citizen Participation With Mobile GIS Technology

A Collaborative Project Between The West University Neighbors and The University of Oregon

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Reflection of Graduate Student Robert Stevens
October 19, 2004


Robert Stevens (right), a graduate student in the "Applied GIS and Social Planning" class at the University of Oregon collects data with Drix, his neighborhood partner and Chair of the West University Neighborhood Association.

Photo by Marc Schlossberg


"In the West University Neighborhood there are more than just college students that call this area home; there are longtime residents that are extremely passionate about the area.  The passion of the neighbors really showed through when our team was collecting data.  My partner was very passionate about the appearance of the neighborhood and would pick-up much of the loose debris.  I also could tell he wanted this area to have more of a friendly, community feeling by how he started up a conversation with anyone that we passed.  I cannot recall in any other neighborhood having people talk to each other that much on the sidewalks or pick-up litter.  In other neighborhoods people would simply be in their own world and do their own thing.


"I learned through the stories I was told that the neighbors have a plan of action for how to bring about positive, social change and make the West University Neighborhood a great place to live again.  Compared with other neighborhood associations, the West University seems to be the most organized and committed.  The residents have lobbied Sanipac to try to improve the collection of garbage, a major problem in the area with all the overflowing dumpsters, and routinely testify to the city, whether it is to get the West University Neighborhood Park opened again or to work towards improved housing standards.  I also learned what the residents really needed to make their efforts successful was solid evidence not simply verbal descriptions. 


"The West University Neighborhood Mapping Project will be the solid evidence that the residents need to lobby for changes in their neighborhood.  Residents will finally be able to identify graphically where the problems in the neighborhood are, whether it is areas that are a safety risk due to no lighting or areas with overflowing dumpsters.  If there are only certain areas that are the real problem, the neighbors can concentrate their resources on the areas that really need their attention.  Most importantly, I was empowered to learn how much the neighbors valued our class for helping to improve their neighborhood.  After Saturday, I have desired to find more ways to put my expertise to work in other communities to continue helping to change the world.  Before Saturday, I would never have thought that I wanted to help as many communities as possible; because, my perception was that much of the time the community really does not want your expertise, particularly if you are a university student.


"The West University Mapping Project allowed me the opportunity to see that there is a real effort, with a lot of enthusiasm behind it, to create positive changes in the neighborhood.  I was privileged to have been a part of the effort.  Most importantly, I want to help more communities become more empowered."

  Main Community-Based GIS with ArcPad Page  
Neighborhood GIS Walkability GIS Housing Condition GIS Teaching GIS



   For more information:
   Marc Schlossberg


Last edited on: December 07, 2004