2.2. Mapping communities

Cartoon illustrating topic

The first aim of this unit helped to look at your understanding of community and the position of your group in the community. This second aim helps you to explore your community more fully, building up a community map. It should end up a bit like you might imagine a police investigation room, where all the information gathered is pasted on a wall or laid out on the floor or table, with arrows and lines and questions linking and trying to make sense of the various bits of information. The three activities each map a different aspect of your local community – the three Ps:

  • Places
  • People
  • Power

There are broadly three approaches to gathering evidence and information:

  • Visual – maps, community walk, photos, video, collage, posters, models, drama
  • Verbal – conversations, focus groups, interviews, phone
  • Written – reports, the internet, literature, publications, e-mail

Each activity encourages the group to collect information on each of the three Ps using each of the three approaches. You will be hard pressed to manage each activity in the short time suggested, so the group needs to agree whether it wants to take more time over it, for example doing some research between meetings.

Just before you all head off to gather your information, how are you going to lay it out and record it? You may want to make a file but this doesn’t help to see how everything connects. If there is a large wall or space on the floor that won’t get disturbed so much the better. Mounting your evidence onto a large piece of plyboard is excellent for its strength, but very cumbersome to store. Make a huge basic plan of the area you are exploring. Wallpaper lining paper is ideal. The bigger the better, as long as you can protect it or store it from one meeting to the next. You will soon fill a plan layout of four metres by two metres. Your task over the next three activities is to fill it – and more!

Activities in this section

To break the task down into manageable chunks, this mapping has been divided into the three parts – places, people and power. But you may want to read through the whole aim and agree on ways to gain information about each aspect at the same time. For example, while listing the places in the community, you can also be finding out about the people who use them. And so on.

The matrix or grid below, activity sheet 13, shows you how the approaches and different aspects of the community link together. You could use this as a planning tool before you start.

Community mapping
Approaches Places People Power


Wiki Tools