Cultural mapping pilot project identifies residents’ connections

NANAIMO - Cultural mapping project aims at uncovering people's connection to downtown core areas in Nanaimo.

Stories are part of the cultural fabric of communities.

These tales could be connected to a historical event, a building or a unique fixture of the natural landscape. Connections to places are diverse.

Capturing the diversity of personal connections is the aim of the pilot project Where is Here: small cities, deep mapping, sustainable futures. The cultural mapping project, occurring in Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Courtenay, asks participants to share their’connect-spot’ on film in downtown core areas.

“It goes beyond the bricks and mortar to the stories, as to why people connect to the bricks and mortar,” said Sharon Karsten, project coordinator and PhD student at Simon Fraser University. “It’s a storytelling platform … it’s really beautiful to uncover the deeper stories. The sense of the pulse of the community.”

The Nanaimo project is April 2 at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. at the Nanaimo Museum. Participants will meet at the museum and then walk through the downtown core in groups. Each spot should be within a 15-minute walk of the museum.

Participants will be asked to share their spot and say why it is important to them and why they feel connected to it.

A Vancouver Island University film crew will capture the participants’ thoughts on camera.

Nicole Vaugeois, principal  investigator for the project and a member of the recreation and tourism department at VIU, said it shines a light on what people value, which may be different that what city and community planners may think.

“It gives a little bit of a different lens on the discussion,” said Vaugeois.

Cultural mapping helps people understand and share culture, re-think history and promote creativity and development, according to the Cultural Mapping Toolkit publication created through a partnership between 2010 Legacies Now and the Creative City Network of Canada.

According to the toolkit, it can help municipalities and communities gain knowledge about local culture, identify unknown resources and activities, provide a fresh perspective, identifying networks and hubs and for cultural planning projects.

People interested in participating can register at

Space is limited, but if people don’t get into the April event Vaugeois said there may be opportunities to participate in the project again this summer. People can e-mail and include their name, their downtown connect-spot, a short description of why it is important to them and which time slot would work for them.