My Brother's Cognitive Mapping

[The hand drawn Twin Cities, penned by my brother.]

Somehow, my brother scored a frontpage piece (below-the-fold) in the Strib's Variety section yesterday. In what has to be the unlikeliest newspaper column of my lifetime, my shy MN-expat sibling gained some notoriety for posting some of his many "hand drawn maps" onto the website of the Hand Drawn Map Association, a new and wonderful internet compendium. Here's the piece:

On the East Coast, where people "don't have a good idea of what the rest of the country looks like," it's helpful, in conversation, to have a map.

So Glen Lindeke drew one.

Now his maps (two, in fact) are on display with nearly 60 others at the Hand Drawn Map Association (HDMA) website, www.handmaps.org.

Lindeke, a 27-year-old analytical chemist from Mendota Heights, moved to Groton, Conn., where he doodled a map of the Midwest with special attention paid to Minnesota, including the Boundary Waters and the northernmost point in the continental United States, the Northwest Angle.

"Every once in a while I just want to draw from memory and freehand it," Lindeke said.

The piece goes on, but not for much longer. It even includes a shout out to me! ("His low-fi cartography flows from personal interest and his brother's study of geography, cities and sidewalks at the University of Minnesota.") Apparently, the piece was penned by an intern at the Strib, looking to fill some space in the fluff section.

[Senate candiate and all-around mensch Al Franken hand drawing the USA.]

It made me think, though of something we occasionally talk about in Geography called "cognitive mapping." Here, people draw the city as they remember it, piecing together how they perceive space. Particularly when thinking about urban planning, and what makes a good landmark, avenue, or "legible" space, these kinds of maps can be really interesting. What are the landmarks in your life? When you give directions, what do you remember?Do you think the distance from Saint Paul to Minneapolis is really far, or really close? Is Saint Anthony falls next to the Guthrie in your mind?

(For example, judging from these two hand drawn maps: my brother is clearly from Saint Paul and doesn't spend a lot of time in the SW suburbs, doesn't think much of Iowa, and has a thing for Lake Michigan and Chicago. Al Franken, meanwhile, is a crazy genius who doesn't think much of the Rocky Mountain West.)

Next time you doodle a direction map on a bar napkin, why not put it in your pocket and send it to the Hand Drawn Map Association? We might learn a thing or two about how we perceive the world.

[Minnesota lopsidedly towering over a too-square Iowa in a Glen Lindeke original hand drawn map.]

* Never in a million years did I think I'd see a map of the awesome indoor mini-golf course my bro made in his Norwich, CT apartment published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

He always won on the course. He rigged the tees around the furniture to benefit right-handed mini-golfers. The cat was in play, too. For better or for worse, she would sometimes attack the ball.



Tony Gonzalez said...

It took some convincing of editors to get that article OK'd. Filling space? For sure, but probably more in editors' eyes than mine.

The HDMA has another Minnesota-related map up now too.

Bill Lindeke said...

Thanks Tony. It made my day, that's for sure.

e said...

I love this kind of stuff - I had to do this as an assignment for a social psychology class.

(My map would be missing all of the southern suburbs...)

Anonymous said...

Al Franken's map is legitimate. Wow.

Emily said...

Very cool, as a Wisconsin native, I enjoyed that the area south of Green Bay is represented as about four times its actual size; it's how I would like Wisconsin to be.

Kris Harzinski said...

Bill, this is Kris Harzinski from the HDMA. Thanks for posting this article. I love the extra context you've provided to the maps created by Glen. Did you play the mini golf course? I'll be adding that map to the site soon. At any rate, it's great to see another side of the story.

Viagra Online said...

I remember that when I was a child I made my own map of the city, and is totally normal when you start to travel alone through the city, inclusive my friend ask me to made one for each one of them.