Monday, 21 October 2013


If you were looking for a place to live, you most likely would want a place where you are most likely to succeed. But where are these places? 

How do you map personal and community "likelihood of success"? Where are the opportunities? Would an "opportunities map" like that in Austin, Texas, affect your decision where to locate in that community?

Greendoors' Opportunity Mapping  defines opportunity as "a situation or condition that places individuals in a position to be more likely to succeed or excel". They are looking for opportunity-rich communities. 

Their report "The Geography of Opportunity in Austin and How it is Changing" maps Opportunity Index and Change Index. They display overlays of affordable housing and race in static and interactive maps. The Geography of opportunity in Austin TX, USA, is a joint project between Green Doors and the Ohio State U Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. It includes educational quality, economic mobility, access to transportation and affordable housing.

Queensland University of Technology urban designers, Guaralda Mirko and Magdalena Kowalik, write about opportunities presented through "negative space" -- the space in between existing development -- in their report "Negative space and positive environment : mapping opportunities for urban resilience".  They discuss negative space to build sustainable units, to support/enhance 24/7 social interaction, and to adapt to cultural/social changes. Mapping negative space lets them see and understand where opportunities lie.

Researcher Eoin O’Mahony
writes me that his project to map dereliction in Dublin "seeks to find the places where a new politics of the city, one which relies on all of the people resident in Dublin, can emerge". I call the mapping of vacant sites, boarded up houses, closed commercial, closed institutional and publicly-owned and abandoned sites opportunity mapping for creatives. 

Let's get rural where larger tracts of land are available. In Bridgetown North, Nova Scotia, for example, a request for Proposal to develop thirty-four acres of vacant, municipally-owned land represents rural opportunities for creatives. "Proposals [are sought] for the purchase or lease of land for direct business development, private use, commercial or industrial development, agriculture use, or other such develops than enhance or create recreational, tourism, or cultural opportunities".

Are we really mapping opportunities -- opportunities such as:

  • derelict buildings/vacant space
  • meeting places
  • film shoot locations and locations of past films
  • fixed assets alongside dynamic events
  • the geography of resident and non-resident company HQs
    • absentee-HQ'd companies vs resident companies
    • branch plants vs home-grown businesses
  • inventions
  • startups and business deaths (turbulence/edge-of-chaos businesses)
  • "rate-of-growth" businesses
  • community leaders ('doers and producers')
  • profit-margin mapping (low profits = adverse to innovate)
  • entrepreneurs
  • strong and weak infrastructure and virtual connections 
We need to map "outside the box" and look at our communities differently.

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