Finding the Art in C(art)ography

By Guest Blogger Jennifer, Software Products Intern

We all come from different parts of the world, but at the same time we are connected as one, linked in our quest for knowledge of both place and identity. Even at a young age, we are taught spatial awareness in one way or another—we play hide-and-seek, build cities with blocks, hunt for treasure, and imagine magical kingdoms. As we grow, we become curious thinkers who strive to learn about space and place, whether it be the space of the universe, the Earth, society, or even of the mind and body.

Within this desire to learn, our strengths and passions sway us towards various fields, like magnets, pulling us to ask the right questions about life. To explore one’s calling is, unfortunately, a privilege to some and a dream to many, which is why we must not take these questions lightly. As geographers, we ask, “where?”; as philosophers, “why?”; as anthropologists, “who?”; as engineers, “how?”; as historians, “when?”; and as scientists, we ask, “what?”. The end goal is to bring every field and school-of-thought together to create integrative solutions that address every side of the issue. The beauty of this is that individuals do not fit neatly into little boxes; each person has a different story and experience that provide a unique perspective to every situation. After working with Esri, I can assuredly say that it is a company that understands and embodies this ideal.

I am drawn to Esri because it is able to see the beauty and art in everything and in everyone. Each person contributes to the team and often finds themselves moving from niche to niche, depending on his or her changing interests and strengths. After speaking with numerous employees, I was placed on the Content Team within the Software Products division. I can now see that I was given the perfect position, as it has allowed me to pursue one of my passions: finding the art in cartography.

Jennifer showing off the Urban Observatory exhibit at the Esri UC.

One of my first projects entailed adding around 50 new cities to the Urban Observatory. TED conference founder Richard Saul Wurman, Radical Media, and Esri envisioned this captivating exhibit. Manipulating strikingly bright hues atop dark gray basemaps, themes such as population density, historical boundaries, and urban footprints are vibrantly displayed to compare each city’s shared and unshared experiences.

I exercised my creative thinking and storytelling skills through the creation of two Map Journals. The first was a World Cup Map Journal that highlights the United States’ level of participation in soccer, Major League Soccer viewership, and World Cup viewership by ZIP Code. The second was a Global Poverty Map Journal that utilizes storytelling, videos, and interactive maps to tell a portion of the global poverty story. There are countless perspectives at play in this story of poverty: the perspective of the poor, the government, aid agencies, researchers, and the people indirectly involved. The goal is to bring all of these diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise together to find solutions.

As the internship comes to an end, I am left to continue asking the questions described earlier in this post. Who are the people in need? What can I do to create change? Where am I headed? And how can I continue to learn and collaborate with others?

So with all of this in mind, my question to you is, What are your questions?

Want to do meaningful work like Jennifer did this summer? Check our website next month for information on how to apply for a 2015 internship.

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