Do we share the same city?

The Sepsi LAG Association organised a mind mapping workshop with the Uplift Youth Board on 16th of August at Sfantu Gheorghe/Sepiszentgyorgy.

The main objective of the workshop was to bring the young people involved in the Uplift project together and to reflect about how they use the city whilst drawing a personal city map of Sfantu Gheorghe.

The organisers made a clear request from the start of the activity, that the young people were to draw their version of the city in a map form and not to recreate a replica of the actual city map.  Thus, to create a visual representation of the most important places in their lives and the distances between these places.

The workshop started with a warm-up circle, catching up on personal news and updates since our last meet.  We then played a small game based upon sociometry. The group consisted of six young people, who each named one place in the city that was most important to them. All the places were named loudly so that they could hear each other and then they had the task of finding their place in relationship with the others representing other places from the city.

It was a nice warm-up game as it encouraged healthy discussions about the correct location of places or the distances between them.  It began the process of mapping relationships to spaces and places at an individual level.   

The next part of the workshop was to create a personal versions of the map.  The young people discussed meaningful places for them and started to group these based on occurrences.  For instance, each named 3-5 places are somehow related to their lives, including places where their friends and/or loved ones lived. They all had post-its with different colours, so they grouped together the places that were mentioned more than once.

The real debate began after they had agreed to sticking the post-its on a big sheet and creating their version of the city map around these. They had also agreed to be democratic and use all the post-its regardless of the occurrence of the given place.  It was agreeing on distances between places that caused most of the debate. This was the most exciting part of the co-working process, as it perfectly showed that our perception or mental image of a place or of the city we live in can be very different to another’s, even if we use the same routes or we belong to the same group of friends or school.

The workshop concluded with the successful completion of a map that represented their places.  The imaginary map contained ‘hubs’.  These ‘hubs’ represented groups of the places and buildings perceived close to each other.  As you can see on the photos, if not circles but at least concentric half-circles are easy to spot on this map, which is consistent with the real city development: starting from the very centre of it and being extended to the outskirts and neighbourhoods of the town.

The young people presented their final version of their map, emphasising those places that are not commonly shared but represent a best friend or a partner.

It was a fun workshop, and we gathered a lot of useful insights and information about the way these young people perceive their (home)town.