On Thursday, March 29, the Millennial Mayors Congress executive committee heard from a panel of vibrancy mapping experts and made some decisions on how to move forward with our latest initiative. Read on for meeting takeaways, next steps and continuing questions for discussion.
Our expert panel featured David Mieksztyn from Data Driven Detroit (filling in for Kurt Metzger), Jerry Paffendorf of LOVELAND Technologies, and the Michigan Suburbs Alliance’s own Richard Murphy. Their presentations and commentary helped us refine the goals we wish to achieve with our metro Detroit vibrancy maps.
Goal 1: Our maps tell stories. We want to create a new regional narrative and also highlight the unique character of the cities within our region, telling stories with an insider’s perspective.
Goal 2: Our maps inspire future investment and development. As a direct result of our activities and the maps we’ll create, we want people to rediscover the places around them, spending time and money in these spaces. We also seek to coordinate future investments, of our own initiatives and those of any other groups who seek to make our region more vibrant and attractive to Millennials.
Goal 3: We help users navigate metro Detroit. Our maps should facilitate an experience that is guided by our research but ultimately shaped by the user. The vibrancy maps might not tell visitors which routes to take, but they should help them find unique places and personalities not on traditional lists of landmarks. The maps might not tell college students where to get groceries, but they might inspire those students to explore the next town over. They might not provide apartment listings, but they could give prospective residents an idea of what cities would be a good fit.
Though we all agreed on these general purposes of the maps, Congress representatives differed on a few points, including what we’d like to map, how, and who our target users are. To help us figure this out, we’ll be testing various methods this summer through small-scale pilots. Our Millennials and city officials will be able to propose and run their own local vibrancy mapping projects, with the help of Suburbs Alliance staff and interns. Read and download more information on how to propose a project here. Need some inspiration? Find some ideas below or at our brand new Tumblr:
First, though, we do need to come to an agreement on one thing: vibrancy. This is important because our definition of vibrancy will create a common understanding of what we map. Here’s our definition as laid out in our Millennial Vision for Metro Detroit:
“Vibrancy” is a combination of livability, access to amenities, density, walkability, attractiveness of the built environment, cultural, economic and racial diversity, social activity, and a strong sense of community.
In the executive committee meeting packet, I laid out some of the ways by which we could measure these elements, including census demographics, jobs, businesses, sidewalks or transit routes, and more. However, we can’t put all of these on our maps—they would be unusable!
Which of these components do we want to map? What are the most important determinants of vibrancy, and which are map-able? Which of these are most important to create a new narrative or direct investments? Do we want to map datasets, or do we want to capture a more general feeling? Discuss below, in the comments.