terra incognita (n.) by olliegoblue25



     terra incognita (n.)                                                                                                                                                                    Storytelling Is Political
     an unknown, unexplored region; territory that has not been                                                                                                                              We propose two intertwined ways to foster recognition
     mapped or documented                                                                                                                                                                    of terra incognita neighborhoods:                                            • Stories of action—building on local knowledge, these stories share
     B y M a r k C a m e r o n , Z o ë c h a r l t o n , R i c k d e l a n e y, a n d I r e n e P o u l s e n                                                                                                                                                             advice, guidance, and ideas for effecting neighborhood change through
                                                                                                                                                                                             www.interraBaltimore.com                                                     a virtual community of online forums, discussion groups, and blogs.
     During the days of exploration, undiscovered territories were often                                             Bricks, boards, and blocks have been used to seal up houses,            An interactive website that will allow geographically separated com-         Links would be provided to information, data, resources, and community
     identified on maps as terra incognita. These unknown territories                                           symbolizing the ambiguous and the neglected status of a community.           munities to be linked electronically. The website would be a virtual civic   people.
     were considered dangerous and exotic, full of mystery, strange beasts,                                     These neighborhoods are primarily highlighted when a crime, acci-            space shaped by the neighborhoods using three types of storytelling:
     and wild people. Until western explorers named and “civilized” the                                         dent, or murder occurs. Their true identity has been obscured, and res-
     terra incognita, these areas were regarded as regions to be avoided.                                       idents have sometimes been made to feel that difficult neighborhood          • Stories of everyday life—celebrating a kindergarten graduation,            mobile story collectors
          In Baltimore, many neighborhoods have devolved into terra incog-                                      conditions are their fault. It is important to change the misperception      remembering a neighbor who was killed, or describing a community             Recognizing that a digital divide is still prevalent in Baltimore, we propose
     nita, burdened and rife with vacant land and abandoned structures,                                         of these terra incognita neighborhoods by illuminating the circum-           event. These stories are eloquent and profane, told through text,            a series of mobile units (like a bookmobile) equipped with computers
     and rampant with drug and gang-related problems. Like the early                                            stances that are behind these conditions.                                    audio, pictures, and video journals.                                         and classroom space. They would travel from neighborhood to neighbor-
     explorers who “brought civilization” to terra incognita, individuals to-                                        Stories and histories related by residents create a more authentic                                                                                   hood occupying vacant lots that, for several days, would become a new
                                                                                                                                                                                             • Stories of circumstance—telling how gentrification is affecting a
     day see these places only as a resource to be exploited, gentrified, or                                    record of their neighborhoods. These stories illuminate the challenges                                                                                    community gathering space to collect stories, teach people how to use
                                                                                                                                                                                             neighborhood; questioning why the City fails to clean up a vacant lot;
     resold for profit. In reality these places contain residents and histories                                 that incognita neighborhoods face. Sharing these stories supports resi-                                                                                   the Internet and access information, and host meetings and events. The
                                                                                                                                                                                             learning how to break a drug addiction. These are stories that give a
     full of hope, promise, and the desire to make their neighborhoods safe                                     dents in their struggle for recognition, justice, and control in gaining a                                                                                mobile units give form and place to www.interraBaltimore.com.
                                                                                                                                                                                             human face to issues that affect neighborhoods.
     and vital.                                                                                                 status of health that all Baltimoreans expect and deserve.

60       703-637-6781                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      w w w. u r b a n i t e p ro j e c t . c o m m a r c h 0 7   61

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