The Complete Guide to Hosting a #MapJam in Your City

Organizers Note: This is an evolving guide of tools and information. Please add a comment below or get in touch with us directly if you have ideas on how to improve.

This guide will walk you through the process of hosting a #MapJam in your community to bring people together to map grassroots sharing projects, cooperatives, the commons, and other community resources. By participating in our global #MapJam, you’re taking the first vital step towards creating a more resilient and equitable community. So far, hundreds of mappers in more than 100 cities have created nearly 90 community sharing maps.

If you’ve been waiting to map the sharing resources in your city or update your local map to feature new projects, hosting a #MapJam is a great opportunity to connect with your community and create an invaluable local resource.

WHAT IS A MAPJAM?

A MapJam is an easy-to-organize event where a small, dedicated group of people get together for a few hours to map as many sharing services in their city or town as possible. Like a music jam, it should be fun, social, and interactive. Join the Sharing Cities Network Facebook group to get the latest updates and meet other participants.                                              

WHY HOST A MAPJAM?

Mapping all of the sharing services in your city not only shows that another world is possible it shows it’s already here. Maps of sharing resources are also powerful organizing tools. Higher visibility and awareness of community resources can lead to more collaborations between existing sharing projects and foster ideas for new ventures to fill in the gaps. Some of the maps that were created during previous MapJams received thousands of visits within just a few months after they were created.

HOW TO HOST A MAPJAM

Set the details: Hosting a MapJam is simple first, set a date, time, and location. You need as few as three people and three hours to host a MapJam, though you can invite more people and spend more time on your map. You can also host a remote crowd-sourced MapJam using a shared spreadsheet. But it’s much more fun when it’s done in-person. We recommend hosting the MapJam in a free and easily-accessible place like your home, cafe, pub, library, coworking space, or school. Just make sure your event venue has free wifi.

Promote your event: Before the MapJam, take a moment to register and create an "event page" here: www.shareable.net/mapjam. You can connect that page to Facebook or create a Meetup page so participants can RSVP. Please send us a link so we can promote it on our social networks. Also, put flyers up or hand them out at high-traffic locations with potential attendees like local farmers’ markets, food co-ops, or college campuses.

Invite your community via email, social media, or by phone or in-person outreach. The best people and organizations to invite are community groups that represent different sectors and populations.

Make it fun, interactive, and social: To make the event more fun, add a gift circle, potluck, music, or a dance break to your MapJam. Try doing some hands-on mapping, art, or brainstorming in small groups to engage people. Consider doing something purely social after your session, like happy hour or a group meal. Whether big or small, give it a local flair.

Document and share: Have a signup sheet at the event to collect attendees’ contact information for future events. Be sure to snap photos of map jammers at work, get quotes, and share them on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #MapJam so we can help promote your event. And at the end of the session, please share this feedback form with attendees, so we can continue to improve our efforts.

Connect with other MapJams: One of the most exciting aspects of a MapJam is interacting with mappers all around the world. It’s inspiring and fun to see what people are mapping in other cities. Find other groups on the #MapJam website and chat with them on the Sharing Cities Network Facebook Group or on Twitter using the #MapJam hashtag. We'll also help in making some introductions.

EVENT RECRUITMENT

The day before your MapJam, it’s a good idea to send a reminder to all of your attendees letting them know that the big day is in 24 hours. Keep in mind that only around 50 percent of the people who RSVP will show up at the event. A simple reminder email can go a long way in ensuring a high attendance rate.

Here are a few suggestions on how to recruit even more people to your MapJam:

  • Send individual invitations to friends and friends of friends. A personal invitation in-person or by phone or email is worth 20 Facebook invites.

  • Promote via your social networks: Post event details on your social media accounts, local listservs, nonprofit organizational calendars, and Meetup groups.

  • Make announcements at local group events and meetings, farmers’ markets, and religious institutions.

  • Ask each registered attendee to bring a friend.

RESOURCES FOR HOSTS

We are continuing to develop resources to support your MapJam and will add them to this guide. Is there something else you think would be helpful? Contact Tom with suggestions.

SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDE

We’ve put together a guide to help you leverage your social media networks to spark dialogue about the great sharing resource that you and your team will be putting together. The links below go to Shareable’s MapJam site, but feel free to include links that point specifically to your group’s MapJam page to encourage sign-ups!

Twitter

Before the MapJam, let your friends and family know that you’re participating and invite them! Also, let your Twitter network know why you’re participating to inspire them to join you. Sample tweets:

  • I’ll be mapping sharing resources in ________ (fill in name of your city) at @Shareable’s #MapJam! Join me: http://bit.ly/1vc7ten

  • Let’s create a map of ALL the great sharing resources in ________! Sign up for @Shareable's #MapJam: http://bit.ly/1vc7ten

  • .@Shareable is hosting a #MapJam this June! Let’s build an amazing map of all the sharing resources in ________: http://bit.ly/1vc7ten

  • Join @Shareable for #MapJam, a fun global event to put sharing resources in cities on the map! http://bit.ly/1vc7ten

  • Want to learn how to map AND make a terrific community sharing resource? Join me @Shareable's #MapJam! http://bit.ly/1vc7ten
     

At the MapJam, tweet pictures and videos of the event. Be sure to tag Shareable in your tweets (@shareable) and use the #MapJam hashtag so we can retweet you! Sample tweets:

  • We’re mapping sharing resources in ________ (fill in name of your city) at @Shareable’s #MapJam! Check it out: (share photo)

  • We’re creating a map of the the amazing sharing resources in ________ at @Shareable’s #MapJam! (share photo or video)

Facebook

As on Twitter, use Facebook to invite people to join you in #MapJam.

  • Join me at Shareable’s third annual #MapJam in ________ on ________. The MapJam will bring communities together in cities around the world to map grassroots sharing projects, cooperatives, community resources, and the commons. Learn more and sign up here: http://bit.ly/1VRaTiX

  • Interested in creating an amazing resource to promote the sharing movement in ________? Join me at Shareable’s third annual MapJam! Details: http://bit.ly/1VRaTiX

HOW TO POPULATE YOUR MAP

NOTE: Check here to see if your city has a map from other #MapJams. If it does, instead of creating a new one, your MapJam group may just need to update the old map and move the data to UMap or Open Street Maps (see below). You may have to contact the administrator or creator of the map to gain access to the original research. We suggest doing this at least a week in advance.

Import maps: There may already be local maps like a map of all community gardens or co-ops in your area, which you can import to your map using the import or layer functions. If you already have a database, you can import it to the map using the import function. If you are using uMap or another OSM-based mapping app, you will need to convert your street addresses to latitude and longitude coordinates which is easy to do with a converter like this one. You can even convert multiple addresses at the same time with the batch conversion function.

Search by keyword: For entities you don’t already know by name, search for common keywords + your city’s name using this format: Philadelphia + park, library, kitchen, pantry, collective, coop, co-op, cooperative, social, green, garden, farm, community, cohousing, trust, housing, worker, market, justice, development, coworking, share, sharing, free, space, swap, eco, credit union, etc.

Do a survey: In advance, on paper or with a free online service like Google Forms, Wufoo, or SurveyMonkey, send out a survey to collect data. You can leave these up after the MapJam so others can suggest additions or edits to your map after the event.

Brainstorm together: Use a physical map that you can mark up or put Post-Its on, do a brainstorming session by sector on butcher paper or a chalkboard, draw out an artistic map together, or have a hackathon-style brainstorm using a shared document.

Think outside the box: In smaller towns, you may need to think outside the box. Consider adding sharing services hosted by religious organizations and common sharing avenues like food banks, parks, community centers, playgrounds, libraries, credit unions, public transit stops, community gatherings, and farmers’ markets. Each city has a different culture, which may make the new economy look very different.

Brainstorm List:

Below is a list of items you might include on your map. Use it to start off your brainstorming session but don’t feel limited to this!

  • Finance: finance, credit unions, public banks, microfinance and local investment groups, crowdfunding dinners, socially responsible investing firms, community currency organizations, slow money chapters

  • Production: production, energy co-ops, producer co-ops, community gardens, coworking spaces, urban farms, hackerspaces, makerspaces, art collectives, fab labs, computer kitchens, repair cafes, tool or kitchen libraries, shared commercial kitchens

  • Land/housing: land, housing, public parks, city repair projects, open spaces, community centers, housing co-ops, community land trusts, intentional communities, cohousing developments, tiny home villages, ecovillages

  • Services: public libraries, carsharing pods, ridesharing stops, bike sharing stations, worker coops, free clinics, bike kitchens, childcare collectives, preschool coops, timebanks, education co-ops, free schools, community-owned media groups, infoshops, free computer labs, local NGO’s, community/social clubs

  • Distribution: distribution, food coops, farmers’ markets, reuse stores, toy and seed libraries, barter markets, swaps, free stores, stationery free boxes, food pantries

  • Off-The-Map: Timebanks, Transition groups, Freecycle networks

HOW TO MAKE A MAP

Map of Berlin using UMap from #MapJam 2.0

Create a spreadsheet (preferably online): This will allow you to import data to any platform easily and share the information with other organizations for movement building. We have a sample spreadsheet (see above) that you can use. You can simultaneously add your information to the map and the spreadsheet. This will also allow you to create a resource directory for your community to complement your map.

NOTE: We will be collecting your local maps — regardless of which mapping platform that you use — and building a global map where each city will be a layer on the global map.

Choose a mapping platform: We highly recommend that you use an open-source platform for mapping like uMap, OpenStreetMap, or Local Wikis for directories (see Oakland Co-ops). Google Maps are easy to create and collaborate on but you will not be able to easily export the data you create at a later date or contribute to the global map. Feel free to use another online mapping platform (ex. Green Map: check to see if there is already a Green Map and add to it). Whatever platform you use, it’s best to opt for one that allows you to collaborate easily and keep the data open. You may want to choose 1-3 people to act as trustees to maintain the map.

Mapping With uMap:

#MapJam Webinar (recording): How to map with uMap

To walk the talk and promote software based on sharing principles, we recommend that you use an open source platform. We suggest to use uMap as it has a very user-friendly interface and lets you customize your map (if you have experience with other platforms, by all means use what you are comfortable with). We will also be using uMap for the global map.

uMap is an easy in-browser app for creating a Map using OSM cartographic data.

Creating a new map with a unique address with uMap is easy. It can be updated simultaneously from up to four computers at the same time, but be careful concurrent editing of the same layer is not possible — it will delete data. Therefore we would suggest that you handle the editing of your map carefully, designating 2/3 map curators who can coordinate their editing work.

Once you have created a new map with uMap, it is easy to scroll over the icons to find the tools that you need to add locations. UMap is user-friendly but still quite powerful. Fortunately, there are quite a few tutorials (with screencasts) on how to use the tool.

Basically it will go like this:

  • Go on http://umap.openstreetmap.fr/en/

  • Create a map by clicking the dedicated button (you may log in first — advised to be sure you easily find your map again and better manage editing rights)

  • Give a simple name to your map by clicking on the pen icon in upper left corner: e.g. Shareable Map Jam in NYC

  • Start adding points of interests (any initiative you may want to map) by clicking on the marker icon (right side)

  • You may create layers using the dedicated icon (left side) to make your map more readable

  • You may change the tiles style (the appearance of your map background by clicking on the tiles icons (right side)

  • You may look at more advanced ways to customize your map by clicking on the settings button (right side). Among many other things you can adjust the colour of markers, the presence of a panel on the right side showing your layers names, etc.

  • By clicking on the key icon (right side) you may share the editing rights with other users with different options: secret link allowing anyone with the link to edit, allow specific users by giving their username (they will have to create an account), allow anyone (we don’t recommend to avoid conflicting edits).

  • You may get a HTML code to embed your map on a webpage by clicking the icon ‘more’ (left side) and then clicking on the share button

  • You may choose a license for your map by clicking on the settings icon (right side) and the ‘credits’ category: we advise WTFPL (What The Fuck Public License) that will basically allow anyone to use the data anywhere (including importing it into OpenStreetMap at a later stage). You can also not choose any license and agree with Tom from Shareable on terms for sharing the map data. Remember, the more open, the more impact!

For more detailed instructions and get more inspiration check the how-to screencasts.

Editing the OpenStreetMap

In parallel to making your own map, you may want to make your discoveries even more visible. For that you may consider entering the world of OpenStreetMap editors. It’s actually very easy. But be aware that all the edits that you will make will be visible by anyone who uses OSM.

Imports

For advanced mappers, you may want to import the results of your MapJam into OpenStreetMap. This is possible but note that it is no one-click process and your data will need to follow strict guidelines: check here for more information. If you need support doing so plug into the TransforMap community forum.

Mapping with TransforMap’s demo editor

TransforMap put together a demo editor that allows you to edit OpenStreetMap directly while providing you with some pre-defined categories:

  • Needs: e.g. food, water, leisure, energy, community, etc.

  • Modes of interaction: e.g. selling, bartering, lending, etc.

  • Identity: e.g. Sharing economy, commons movement, transition towns, solidarity economy, etc.

To start editing visit this page, zoom in on the map and click on the editing button in upper right corner. For support, plug in the discussion here.

Mapping in OSM

This Beginners' Guide will show you how to add data to OpenStreetMap. Tutorials are available in many languages which you can select from the table at the top of this page.

The data you add to OpenStreetMap improves the free world map for everyone, whether it’s a small correction or thousands of roads added over time. There is a panel on the right of every page of the tutorial. The page you are on will be in bold text. You can move to any other page by clicking on the relevant page title. The bottom of each page has “previous” and “next” links, as appropriate, to take you through the tutorial.

Using Google Maps:

If you need to get started in a low-tech way, you may be better suited to use Google Maps. Brainstorm a list of items to add to the map (the beginning of a directory) on paper or use a spreadsheet or a drawing of a map to get started. Here are instructions for Google. Please be sure to make tom@Shareable.net an editor.

If you opt to use Google Maps we will be exporting your data as a KML file and including it in the global map built on uMap.

  • Check to see if there’s a map already: If there's already a map for your area on our list, check to see if it's open or closed to collaboration. If it's closed, you will need to contact the map maker to add or update listings. Or make another map and set yours to be public instead of private.

  • Learn Google Maps: Log into any Google account and go to Google Maps. Google will walk you through this process in its interactive tutorial.

  • Create a new map: Click on “My Places,” then “Create Map.” Enter a title and description for the map, like Share St. Louis Map. When you're finished, click “Save." This map will always show up in "My Places."

  • Adding entities: If you’re using Google Maps, you can add entities by typing the name or address you already know in the map's search box. If it's in Google's database, it will put a point on the map for you. You can add a description from there. When you find a resource to be added, click on its map pin and then hyperlink below it will appear that says "add to map" and click on that.

  • Edit a listing: Click on one of entities listed in the left column or the icon on the map. Click on "add a description" in the pop-up box. Here you can change the entity name in the title bar or enter a URL, contact info or short blurb in the description area.

  • Add categories: To make the map more visually organized, click on the paint can that pops up as you hover to the right of the listing in the left hand column and it will open a window with new icons to choose from to represent sectors, like mini houses to represent housing coops and colors for your icons or pins.

DIRECTORY OF “OFF THE MAP” RESOURCES

If you have a Sharing Cities Network community page, local website, or LocalWiki page, this is a good place to put your map and directory. In addition to mapped resources, directories can document events and organizations that don’t have a full-time or permanent address (e.g. Food Not Bombs, swaps, mobile libraries, and Really Really Free Markets, freecycle, bartering and neighborhood groups or other public services).

See an example of a directory on A2Share.

SHARE YOUR MAP

Please share your map with Shareable (tom@shareable.net), so that we can add it to the global list. Once it has been added we will give you the link so that you may share it with your community.  

Once your map is ready:

  • Embed your map on your blog or site and link back to this guide so other people can add to or edit your map. If you create a site to embed your map in, you can also add a directory, which is helpful for including activities that don’t have a permanent address.

  • Send the link to everyone that you put on the map, other sharing-related organizations, local nonprofits, city officials, media, and friends.

  • Share your map on social media. Be sure to cc: @Shareable on Twitter and use the #MapJam hashtag so we can easily share the map with our networks.

LEVERAGE YOUR MAP

As important as it is to map out your local community, it is just the beginning. Once you have completed this step you will have an incredible resource to share with family, friends, colleagues, local officials, nonprofits, and businesses to support and grow an economy that puts the needs of people first.

These maps are living documents that will need to be revisited periodically and updated so that they stay relevant and reflect the growth of new sharing and cooperative projects. Printing your map (after you have given time to receive feedback and suggestions from your community) can be an excellent way to reach those who don’t have/use internet and to increase distribution/usage.

It may take some work in the beginning, but our research shows that these maps can receive thousands of views in just a few months (depending on the size of your community/city).

Congratulations, you've taken an important step towards making your city a sharing city!

FAQ:

  • How do I list things that aren’t mappable? Keep a list of these things you’ve brainstormed and add them to the directory. If they have a regular space but not a permanent address, add them to the map with a note and a weblink for details.

  • How do we decide who’s in and who’s not supposed to be on the map? That’s up to you and your community to decide. The more representative of a group, the better. You can also check out these principles of solidarity economy.

  • What if someone’s already made a map but they don’t want to open it for me to edit it? There’s no harm in having lots of maps. You can share yours after the MapJam and decide if you want to join into one map or keep them separate.

  • What if we don’t have much to map? See “Think Outside the Box,” page 6.

  • How do I start a MapJam with just myself? Most great ideas start with just one person or a few people. Be bold. Set an event date and location with just yourself or a few friends and create an online event link on Facebook, Meetup, or Eventbrite, and then promote it and do more direct invites. Waiting for the right people to show up before creating the event doesn’t usually work.

  • Can we do the mapping offline if we can’t figure out the technology right now? Absolutely! Many mappings begin as drawings, group brainstorms, or pins on a road map. Just make sure you document your brainstorm by taking a photo or notes to create a map ASAP. Email your photos to: tom@shareable.net.

CUSTOM #MAPJAM LOGO

You can overlay these over a screenshot of your city and then add the city name below in black.

Blue banner logo over clear background:

Blue square logo with sharing S icon:

Partners

#MapJam is brought to you by Shareable in partnership with the organizations below:

US Solidarity Economy Network, Transition US, Center for a New American Dream, OuiShare, P2P Foundation, The People Who Share, Data Commons, RIPESS (International Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy) , Commons Transition, Transformap, City Repair and many other community and Sharing Cities groups.

This article was adapted and expanded from the Host Guide for the Sharing Cities Map Jam written by Mira Luna.